No. 8 USC completes series sweep of Arizona
USC baseball continued its winning ways this weekend by sweeping the University of Arizona Wildcats. The No. 8 Trojans (25-6, 7-2 Pac-12) traveled to Tuscon and won all three games against the Wildcats (22-9, 7-5 Pac-12) in dramatic fashion.
On Thursday, the Trojans and Wildcats carried a 1-1 tie into the seventh inning, as Arizona starter Cody Hamlin settled down after allowing a run in the first inning when Jeremy Martinez hit into a run-scoring double play.
Trojans starter Brent Wheatley matched Hamlin’s dominance, however, allowing only a solo home run in the bottom of the third against Wildcat standout Scott Kingery. Each starter had to work out of multiple jams throughout the game, as Wheatley worked into the bottom of the sixth.
Head coach Dan Hubbs pulled Wheatley after he got into a jam in the bottom of the sixth, as reliever Brooks Kriske came into the game and quelled the Wildcat threat.
The Trojans finally got to Hamlin in the top of the seventh inning, as a go-ahead triple from Dante Flores keyed a three-run outburst to put USC up 4-1.
USC would not relinquish the lead, as Kriske was solid through 3.1 innings pitched, retiring 10 of the 12 batters he faced to earn his second win of the season.
Thursday’s win represented the first time USC has won in Tuscon since 2009, but that was not enough to satisfy the Trojans this weekend.
Friday’s contest featured an offensive outburst for the Trojans unlike any they have seen this season. USC scored 13 runs on a season-high 18 hits to take their second-straight win against Arizona in a game that was over before it really started.
The Trojans exploded for seven runs on eight hits in the top of the first inning. Wildcat starter Robby Medel lasted only one-third of an inning, surrendering after seven hitters combined for six runs on six hits.
USC batted around in the inning, as Jeremy Martinez, Dante Flores and Blake Lacey drove in one run apiece, while Reggie Southall and Bobby Stahel recorded two RBI each.
The Trojans never looked back, as small Wildcat rallies were squashed relatively quickly and retaliated with more USC scoring. After Arizona made it 7-2 in the bottom of the third, USC responded with five more runs in the next two innings to push the score to 12-2.
After the Wildcats touched up reliever Mason Perryman for three runs and scored one off Bernardo Flores, the Trojans scored one more run to account for a final score of 13-6. Flores went 3.1 innings of one-run ball to earn his first save of the year and guarantee a series win for the Trojans.
But again, the Trojans were not satisfied. They came out swinging on Saturday, as they took a back-and-forth 10-9 game over Arizona to complete USC’s first series sweep in Tuscon since 2001.
USC jumped on the board early, taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a sacrifice fly from Timmy Robinson.
Trojan starter Mitch Hart was knocked around right away, however, and lasted only 2.1 innings after allowing five runs on four hits. Arizona jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the second inning and added a three-run home run in the third inning by Bobby Dalbec to extend the lead to 5-1.
The Trojans answered right away, putting up seven runs in the top of the fourth inning to knock Arizona starter Tyger Talley out of the game.
The Wildcats went right back to work, as they clawed their way back from the 8-5 deficit. Arizona and USC traded runs in the bottom of the fourth and top of the fifth to push the game to 9-6, but the Wildcats were able to tie the game with two runs in the seventh and another in the eighth.
With the game deadlocked at 9-9 going into the top of the ninth, the Trojans’ tenacity showed once again, as they continued to dipslay they could come from behind on the road.
USC strung together a rally to scratch across the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning against Dalbec. Robinson led off the inning with a walk, and Flores advanced him to second on a sacrifice bunt.
Lacey then grounded out to advance Robinson to third base with two outs. Oppenheim then hit a slow roller to shortstop that rolled just under Kevin Newman’s hand to score Robinson and give the Trojans a 10-9 lead.
Reliever Marc Huberman threw two innings of relief and stranded two runners in the bottom of the ninth to lock down the series sweep for the Trojans.
USC returns to the field Tuesday night when they host UC Santa Barbara at Dedeaux Field. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.