Baseball loses twice in rain-shortened Arizona series

USC visited Arizona over the weekend, losing twice before inclement weather canceled the finale of the scheduled three-game set.

On Friday, the Trojans dropped a lopsided 12-4 matchup to the Wildcats. In a sign of things to come, the evening began when the first three Trojans struck out in the top of the first inning.

Arizona put up 5 runs in the first against the Trojans’ junior right-handed pitcher Connor Lunn. With the help of an error to start the frame, a walk and five hits — including back-to-back home runs — the Wildcats set the tone for the rest of the night. After junior third baseman Nick Quintana hit a 3 run homer, freshman second baseman Dayton Dooney followed with a solo shot of his own. Five runners crossed home before Lunn recorded a single out.

The teams traded runs in the third inning, and USC cut the lead to 6-2 after a fourth-inning RBI fielder’s choice by sophomore shortstop Ben Ramirez scored junior center fielder Matthew Acosta.

From there, Arizona took off. An RBI double and single in the fourth inning pushed the Wildcats’ lead to 6 runs. After junior infielder Cameron Cannon’s solo homer and two RBI singles, a wild pitch put the Wildcats up 12-2 in the sixth inning.

The Trojans’ junior right fielder Brady Shockey scored on an error in the seventh, and freshman first baseman Clay Owens doubled home redshirt junior catcher CJ Stubbs in the eighth. But the runs were too little, too late as the Trojans went down quietly in the ninth to lose the first game.

Lunn has been one of USC’s best starting pitchers all season, but Friday was not his night. He surrendered 8 runs (7 earned) on nine hits through 3.2 innings.

Junior left-hander Austin Manning relieved Lunn, and did not find much more success, allowing 4 earned runs on seven hits through two innings. Sophomore left-hander Augie Sylk provided the only bright spot on the mound for USC, holding the Wildcats scoreless through two no-hit innings.

Owens was the only Trojan with multiple hits, as USC tallied just five for the game.

On Saturday, the Trojans lost again by a more competitive score of 8-5.

In the bottom of the first inning, the Wildcats jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on an error by Ramirez. USC quickly erased the lead when freshman third baseman Emilio Rosas cranked his first career home run, a 3-run shot for a 3-1 second inning lead.

The game entered a weather delay in the middle of the second, and the contest was postponed until Sunday.

The two teams picked up where they left off, and the Trojans seemed to lose all the momentum they had the night before. Arizona tied the game at 3 runs in the third inning on a 2-run homer by freshman right fielder Ryan Holgate, and tacked on three more in the fourth, highlighted by a Quintana RBI double, for a 6-3 lead.

Stubbs’ solo homer in the fifth (his sixth home run of the season) cut the deficit to 2 runs. A Wildcat sacrifice fly in the sixth again pushed their lead to 3 runs, and the Wildcats answered senior infielder Brandon Perez’s RBI single with a run-scoring double of their own in the eighth.

The 8-5 score held when Shockey, representing the tying run, grounded into a game-ending double play in the ninth.

A trio of sophomores handled pitching duties for USC. Sophomore left-hander Isaac Esqueda started on the mound, lasting only 1.2 innings due to the game’s postponement. He allowed 1 run four. Sophomore right-hander Kyle Hurt took the loss, surrendering 5 earned runs through four innings. Sophomore left-hander John Beller finished the game with 2.1 innings of 1-run ball for the Trojans.

Perez, junior outfielder Blake Sabol and sophomore designated hitter Trevor Halsema each collected two hits for USC, part of their 10-hit attack.

After Saturday’s game was postponed, Sunday was scheduled to be a doubleheader, but the latter game was canceled again due to weather. The Trojans left Arizona after the shortened two-game series.

USC will visit Loyola Marymount on Tuesday for one game against the Lions, who are 28-20 on the season pending Monday’s result. LMU won a 14-5 matchup against the Trojans in early March.

After LMU, Oregon will come to town for a three-game set at Dedeaux Field. Entering play on Tuesday, the Ducks are 25-24 on the season, and have not yet faced the Trojans in 2019.

Tuesday’s and Friday’s games begin at 6 p.m., Saturday’s at 1 p.m., and first pitch for Sunday’s series finale is scheduled for noon.