USC’s baseball team visited No. 12 Oregon State over the weekend, handing the defending national champions a series loss to conclude the 2019 season with a 13-15-1 conference record and a 25-29-1 overall record.
The Trojans defeated the Beavers by a score of 2-0 in the series opener. USC took an early 1-0 lead when junior infielder Tyler Pritchard delivered an RBI single in the second inning. Junior outfielder Matthew Acosta added to the lead in the fifth inning with an RBI single of his own giving the Trojans a 2-0 lead.
Sophomore pitcher John Beller shut out the Beavers through seven innings. Beller was effective all night, allowing only six baserunners and striking out nine batters on the evening.
“[Oregon State] is a dominant team, they’re explosive,” Beller said. “I was able to just go out there and trust my defense.”
The two runs provided by the Trojan offense proved to be enough for Beller and the bullpen as they would combine to shut out Oregon State. The Beavers came close to scoring in the last inning, but junior outfielder Brady Shockey robbed a potential home run and sealed the 2-0 victory.
“[Shockey] made an unbelievable play in the ninth,” head coach Dan Hubbs said. “We were fortunate that we were able to make [a two-run lead] hold up.”
The Trojans were unable to carry the momentum over from the series opener, and fell in game two. USC had a bases-loaded opportunity with one out in the first inning, but only scored a single run.
Oregon State responded to the Trojans’ early rally and hit three home runs, knocking in five runs in the first four innings. Senior infielder Brandon Perez countered the home run barrage with a solo shot over the left field wall in the fifth. However, neither team scored again and the game concluded at 5-2 as Oregon State evened the series.
Despite taking the loss, pitcher Connor Lunn struck out ten batters, a new career high for the junior.
The Trojans clinched the series win Saturday, rolling to a 5-0 win. Sophomore infielder Ben Ramirez got USC on the board by scoring Owens on a sacrifice fly in the second inning. Acosta added a run for the Trojans in the sixth with an RBI single that fell into left field.
Sophomore pitcher Kyle Hurt protected the two run lead by holding the Beavers scoreless through seven innings. He struck out nine batters while allowing only six total baserunners.
“[Hurt’s] performance was big time,” Hubbs said. “He dominated from start to finish, pitched out of a couple jams, and had some huge punchouts in between.”
USC scored three more insurance runs in the ninth inning to seal the game.
A key part of shutting down Oregon State’s offense over the weekend was quieting OSU’s catcher Adley Rutschman, who is en route to a likely first overall selection in the 2019 MLB Draft.
In the two games the Trojans won, the switch-hitting Rutschman, who hit .419 on the season, went a combined 0-5.
The Trojans entered the final series following a loss to UC Irvine last Tuesday. USC started the game strong, scoring four runs in the first two innings. Acosta provided two of these runs in the second inning with a single to left field.
Despite the early offensive effort, the Trojans were shut out for the rest of the game, and the Anteaters scored seven unanswered runs. USC did total ten hits, but they were unable to capitalize and fell by a score of 7-4.
The series win against a strong Beavers team allowed the Trojans to end a somewhat disappointing season on a positive note.
“[This series win] means a lot to us,” Hurt said. “It’s given us a lot of joy and happiness.”