Poor pitching dooms Trojans at home

Sophomore infielder Ben Ramirez’s RBI single put USC up 7-5 in the fifth inning of Tuesday’s game against UC Irvine. (Kevin Fohrer/Daily Trojan)

The USC baseball team lost 12-9 to UC Irvine Tuesday in a night game at Dedeaux Field.

Sophomore pitcher Brian Gursky started the game for the Trojans, and UCI wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. With runners on first and second, junior infielder Adrian Damla singled to right center, scoring an Anteater and pushing another to third base. Damla’s hit was followed by another RBI single to increase the Anteaters’ early lead to 2 runs. Another two singles followed to score two more Anteaters and make the game 4-0.

USC head coach Dan Hubbs substituted Gursky for freshman pitcher Chandler Champlain. UCI would score again on a fielder’s choice. The inning ended with the Anteaters up 5-0.

With junior center fielder Matthew Acosta on first, freshman catcher Clay Owens smashed a fastball over the right field fence for his second home run of the season, cutting UCI’s lead to three in the bottom of the second.

Junior right fielder Brady Shockey followed up an RBI double by freshman catcher Tyler Lozano by crushing a 2-run shot over the right field wall that tied the game 5-5 in the bottom of the fourth.

A pair of RBI singles by Acosta and sophomore third baseman Ben Ramirez tacked on 2 more runs for the Trojans while a 2-run single by Lozano extended USC’s lead to four in the bottom of the fifth.

In the sixth inning, the Anteaters started their comeback. Two straight singles put runners on first and second for freshman infielder Andre Antone, who catapulted a fast ball to left field. Mazur and Koss both rounded the bases to reach home, cutting the Trojan lead to 2 runs.

A groundout advanced Antone to third base. A walk by Champlain put another Anteater on base, and the righty was subbed out for freshman pitcher Carson Lambert.

“I thought Champlain did a great job for us,” Hubbs said. “I might have left him out there too long and that’s on me.”

With two outs left, the Trojans hoped to escape the inning with a lead. However, Damla drove his third hit of the night to right field and scored two more Anteaters to tie the game 9-9.

UCI got a pair of runners on base in the seventh after a walk and throwing error by Lambert. Sophomore pitcher John Beller stepped in for Lambert and delivered a strikeout to strand both runners and end the inning.

As the game entered the ninth frame, both teams hoped for just one more inning of offense to put the game away. Sophomore pitcher Kyle Hurt replaced John Beller and retired three straight batters to close out the top of the inning while UCI returned the favor and retired three to close out the bottom of the frame and send the game into extras.

UCI moved ahead in extras with a stroke of luck when freshman catcher Tyler Lozano fumbled a wild pitch, allowing freshman second baseman Sam Ireland to score from third. Junior pitcher Chris Clarke stepped in to relieve Hurt after the righty hit an Anteater with a pitch, but followed with a wild pitch of his own that allowed sophomore left fielder Mike Peabody to score. A UCI single immediately after made the game 12-9, and the Anteaters retired the side to end the game.

USC’s record drops to 17-21-1. The Trojans now look ahead to a non-conference series against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. First pitch is at 6 p.m. Friday in San Luis Obispo.

“We played hard today — our bats were hot and we did a lot of good things,” Hubbs said. “You hate to lose one like this but we’ll take the positives, make some adjustments and move on to SLO”.