USC edges CSUN to take weekend series

USC baseball stepped up in a 30-inning effort this weekend to take two of three games against the Cal State Northridge Matadors this weekend.

“We know we have to play well to win, and I think Northridge is a good team,” USC coach Dan Hubbs said. “They’re scrappy and they play hard to the end so this was a good test for us.”

Freshman pitcher Kyle Twomey took the hill on Sunday for the Trojans (4-3), pitching a complete game in only his second collegiate start to lead the team to a 4-2 victory against the Matadors (4-3). Twomey gave up two runs on five hits and three walks and struck out five.

Going the distance · With a depleted bullpen, freshman lefthander Kyle Twomey threw a complete game in Sunday’s 4-2 win over CSUN. — Joseph Chen | Daily Trojan

Going the distance · With a depleted bullpen, freshman lefthander Kyle Twomey threw a complete game in Sunday’s 4-2 win over CSUN. — Joseph Chen | Daily Trojan

“Getting to the ninth inning wasn’t really something of my concern,” Twomey said. “As cliche as it sounds, I was trying to take it one inning at a time.”

The Trojans gave Twomey the lead early in the second inning when the team put two aboard, setting up freshman designated hitter AJ Ramirez to knock in the first run with an RBI single. The team added another run an inning later when sophomore first baseman Dante Flores brought home redshirt senior centerfielder Greg Zebrack, who led off with a double to deep left field.

“If I could keep throwing up zeroes, it would be good,” Twomey said. “I knew every time it was going to get the offense going again, and they picked me up big time.”

Twomey was helped in particular by Ramirez, who posted 3-for-4 outing with 2 RBIs and a double.

“To see him go out there on the mound and do his thing, the whole field and the whole dugout is 100 percent cheering him on,” Ramirez said. “It’s awesome to watch [Twomey] pitch.”

The complete game was pivotal for USC, whose depleted bullpen got a much-needed break after stepping up in consecutive extra-inning games. Hubbs said the extra rest will allow the relievers to be ready going into their next game Tuesday.

The first two games of the series were both extra-inning affairs, with the Trojans losing at home in 11 innings on Friday evening but winning on the road in 10 frames on Saturday.

USC bested CSUN 6-5 in 10 innings on Saturday night, despite squandering a four-run lead in a four-error game that Hubbs called “atrocious.”

Despite coming out on top, the Trojans let a four-run lead evaporate in the bottom of the seventh by allowing three unearned runs on sloppy defense. The Matadors added the tying run that knotted the game at five apiece with a squeeze play in the bottom of the ninth.

Quelling a late comeback effort from the Matadors, freshman pitcher Sean Adler stepped up with runners at first and second and delivered a two-out save to help the team record the win.

The Trojans pieced together their winning rally when freshman right fielder Vahn Bozoian singled to start off the 10th inning, ultimately leading junior Kevin Swick to drive the winning RBI-single through the left side to put USC ahead.

The Matadors took game one of the series on Friday night with a couple of big offensive bouts, including a five-run 11th inning that ultimately gave them the 9-4 win.

The Trojans missed a series of opportunities, stranding 13 runners and failing to hold on to their two brief leads for more than two innings at a time.

After the Matadors broke open the flood gates in the top of the 11th, USC was unable to respond.

The bullpen will come off its Sunday rest thanks to Twomey’s spectacular outing and join the rest of the team Tuesday to take on Cal State Long Beach at home for a 6 p.m. game.