Baseball can’t hold lead against UC Irvine

USC baseball dropped its single mid-week matchup with UC Irvine Tuesday 6-5 at Dedeaux Field as their season record dropped to 18-21.

Though UC Irvine began the game with a 2-0 lead in the first inning, a well-executed offense from the Trojans tied the score immediately in the bottom of the inning. Lead off batter junior left fielder Corey Dempster walked to get on first base, stole second base, advanced to third base due to a ground out from David Oppenheimer and was able to cross home after another ground out from junior Jeremy Martinez. With the bases clear, the next batter, sophomore center fielder Timmy Robinson, tacked on the game-tying run with a monstrous solo home run to left field.

While roughed up in the first inning, giving up two runs off four singles and a balk, freshman pitcher CJ. Stubbs recovered in the second inning in highlight-worthy fashion when he quickly adjusted to a wizzing line drive hit by John Brontsema right back at him, with a nifty catch and strut towards first base for the easy toss to the freshman Dillon Paulson for the third out. Stubbs would remain in the contest to throw three scoreless innings and permit only two more hits.

The top of the batting lineup continued to be effective when USC took its first lead of the game in the bottom of the second inning after Robinson’s double to left field brought in Oppenheim and Dempster to give the Trojans a 4-2 lead.

USC added to its lead in the fourth inning when a double from Martinez to left center field scored Oppenheim. 

With a three score lead going into the fifth inning, head coach Dan Hubbs handed the ball off to reliever senior Brent Wheatley, who proved immediately effective in his sole inning of the game. 

But things did not work out so smoothly for the next USC pitcher, junior Andrew Wright, who, in the sixth inning. hit Jonathan Munoz and walked Grant Palmer. Though Wright was able get batter Adam Alcantara out on a fly ball to right field, Munoz to advance to third base and in position to score off an error by junior second baseman Frankie Rios. By the end of the inning, USC’s lead had been cut to 5-4. 

UC Irvine wasted no time completing its come back rally in the seventh inning, tying the game at 5-5 and taking its first lead of the contest since the first inning in what would turn out to be the game deciding score when Munoz hit an RBI single to left center field.

In the ninth inning, senior pitcher Brooks Kriske did his part to give the Trojans offense the best chance to win, striking out two batters in a scoreless inning for UC Irvine. But despite getting two runners on base in their half of the ninth, the Trojans failed to drive in either to end the game.

USC will host Arizona in a pivotal three- game Pac-12 series beginning Thursday at Dedeaux Field.