USC drops two of three in weekend series against UCLA

Jamal O'Guinn watches the ball after he hits it in a game against UCLA.
Redshirt junior infielder Jamal O’Guinn makes contact with a pitch during a game against UCLA. O’Guinn leads the team with 17 RBI’s so far this season. (Rohan Palla | Daily Trojan)

USC lost two of three games in a series against No. 10 UCLA this weekend at Dedeaux Field. 

The losses bring the Trojans to an overall record of 10-9 and a 4-2 record in Pac-12 play. The pair of wins help the Bruins improve to a 15-7 overall record and a similar 4-2 mark in conference play. 

USC had a slow start to the season but began picking up momentum after its six-game win streak in back-to-back series sweeps of Nevada and Washington. The Trojans have followed this mid-March win streak by dropping three of their last four games at the hands of San Diego and UCLA. 

“It was good to see us bounce back from our 3-6 start right there and go on that little run that we went on,” redshirt junior infielder Ben Ramirez said. “I think getting a taste of that and realizing that we played good baseball throughout those games and were locked in a lot of the time in all those innings in those games and trying to repeat that is I think something that we’re gonna try to do.” 

This is not the first time the Trojans and Bruins have met this season, with USC losing to UCLA earlier this season by a score of 10-1 at Jackie Robinson Stadium. 

The Trojans won the first game of the series Friday in a closely-contested 5-4 battle. USC trailed 4-1 going into the bottom half of the ninth before scoring four runs to seal the walk-off comeback win.  

With the bases loaded, redshirt senior infielder Tyler Pritchard walked, bringing the score to 4-2. Redshirt junior infielder Jamal O’Guinn followed Pritchard by driving the ball into left field for an RBI double to tie the game at 4-4. Redshirt freshman outfielder Rhylan Thomas then hit a ground ball to UCLA’s shortstop, who overthrew the UCLA first baseman, allowing Pritchard to score and USC to win the game. 

“It was cool to see us fight till the very end right there,” Ramirez said. “I think that’s something we’ve been trying to work on as a team, just trying to put together quality at bats for the whole nine innings. It definitely brought us together a little bit more after getting that walk-off and getting that win.”

With the same starting lineup as Friday night, USC fell to UCLA 6-3 in their second game Saturday to tie the series and hand USC its first conference loss. 

Sunday’s rubber game had a slower start with neither teams scoring in the first inning. At the top of the second inning, UCLA senior outfielder Pat Caulfield hit a two-run homerun to give UCLA a 2-0 lead. USC responded with an RBI triple from Ramirez to cut the lead to 2-1. 

UCLA then ran with the lead in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings scoring a combined 10 runs to extend the lead to 12-1. Both teams followed with two offensively quiet innings with no runs scored. 

UCLA secured the blowout win in the series-deciding game, holding back the USC offense and scoring another run in the ninth to close out Sunday’s 13-1 Bruin victory. 

“We learned a lot from the game today,” Ramirez said. “Just trying to learn from that and making sure if it starts falling apart at some point in the game like that again that we can reel it back in and get back to playing the ball that we want to play.” 

Conference play will continue Thursday when USC travels to Berkeley for a three-game series. Before that, USC will head to LMU for a single-game matchup this week. The Trojans defeated the Lions twice in their season-opening three-game series earlier this season. First pitch between USC and LMU is Tuesday at 6 p.m.