USC baseball falls in its final series of 2018 season

Trojan Baseball closed out its 2018 regular season by dropping two out of three games to the Cal State Northridge Matadors at Dedeaux Field last weekend.

Junior infielder Dillon Paulson totalled 10 home runs in his 2018 season. Emily Smith | Daily Trojan

In Thursday’s series opener, the Trojans fell to the Matadors 1-2 in a 10-inning affair. Both teams scored in the second inning. The Trojans immediately responded to the Matadors’ score with a run from junior third baseman Brandon Perez off a groundout to tie the game. The 1-1 score would hold into extra innings.

In the 10th inning, CSUN redshirt junior outfielder Joey Cooper opened the inning with a single to right field. He would advance to second base on a sacrifice bunt and proceed to third on a groundout. A Trojan throwing error allowed Cooper to advance across the plate, granting the 2-1 lead to CSUN. Consequently, the Trojans were unable to match the Matadors score in the bottom of the 10th inning.

USC freshman pitcher Kyle Hurt threw 7.1 innings, to be relieved by fellow freshman pitcher John Beller. CSUN junior pitcher Walker Armstrong tossed the first 7.0 innings, and senior Hayden Shenefield pitched for the rest of the game.

USC looked to turn the series around on Friday night with a second chance against the Matadors. CSUN drew first blood in the first inning with a five-run performance that the Men of Troy could not match. Senior left fielder Albee Weiss hit a two-run home run that contributed to CSUN’s early dominating lead.

Trojan junior starter Quentin Longrie was replaced by freshman Isaac Esqueda for 4 innings, followed by sophomore Chris Clarke who finished the game. USC tried to fight against its first inning deficit but only mustered one run in the second inning and two runs in the third inning. The Men of Troy ultimately fell 3-9 in game two.

On Saturday, the Trojans took advantage of their third and final chance by defeating the Matadors 8-4 on senior day.

The offense was headlined by junior center fielder Lars Nootbaar’s three-run homer and junior first baseman Dillon Paulson’s two home runs.

Redshirt sophomore Kaleb Murphy contributed to the win with a two-run single to knot the score in the fifth inning. Junior pitcher Solomon Bates dominated on the mound for 7.0 innings. Wegman threw the eighth inning, making his first appearance in about 11 weeks, followed by Beller, who tossed the final inning to close the win for Bates.

“It’s been huge going out on Sundays and being able to salvage series or even win series with [Bates],” Paulson said. “He’s given us his all the whole year and it was nothing different today.”

USC concluded its 2018 season with a 26-28 record. This marks the third straight season that the Trojan ball club has failed to achieve a winning record. However, the team’s young roster looks hopeful for the upcoming 2019 season.

“It was a great way to send [the seniors] off with a win,” head coach Dan Hubbs said after the game. “Our guys are learning how to win. It’s a young staff and that bodes well moving forward. The guys know they need to get a little bit stronger to withstand the whole season. I’m excited for the future of the program. Big things are coming.”