USC baseball falls to UCLA while Austin Overn breaks record

USC baseball player is preparing to his the ball with his bat
The Trojans fell short in the first game of the three-game series against UCLA on Friday night. (Louis Chen | Daily Trojan)

USC baseball dropped its first of three games to No. 22 UCLA Bruins Friday by a score of 9-3.

The Trojans’ usually hot offense couldn’t get anything going against a Bruins pitching staff that has been one of the best in the nation.

“I felt like we came out a little bit flat,” said freshman centerfielder Austin Overn. “It’s hard to come back in the second down a few runs but I feel like tomorrow we’ll come back with energy. We can’t [let] the Bruins come out and do this on our own turf.”

UCLA put up a 4-piece in the second inning thanks to an error that gave the Bruins an easy run. The Bruins held USC to just one run in the bottom of the second, taking a 5-2 after two. After the Trojans put up a run in the fifth inning in an attempt to mount a slow rally, the Bruins knocked in three more runs to all but put this one away. UCLA would knock on another run in the ninth to add insult to injury before it was all said and done.

Despite the tough loss, Overn had something to be happy about. He was able to leg out his 11th triple of the season, which broke the USC single-season record for triples that was previously set by former MLB second baseman and first round draft selection Grant Green in 2007.

“I’ve been waiting for a little bit because I’ve been at ten for a little bit too long for my liking,” Overn said with a light smile. “But I knew I was gonna get it eventually and I thought in my mind that this weekend would have been perfect. Just seeing that ball drop felt good, knowing I could finally get the record in my hands.”

Overn increased his season total to 12 later in the fifth inning, hitting another three-bagger down the right-field line.  He now has a chance to also break the NCAA record for triples in a season if he’s able to go on a streak in the last few weeks of the season. The NCAA record is 17, set by former minor leaguer Keith Hagman of the University of New Mexico.

However, USC isn’t done with the Bruins just yet. The Trojans will have two more chances to take down UCLA Saturday and Sunday.

Overn said that for the rest of the series, the team knows the offense needs to get hot again, and that while the rest of their performance was solid, the offense was what cost them. He also said he’s confident that sophomore pitcher Caden Aoki will be able to deal against the Bruins on Saturday and give USC their best chance to win.

Head Coach Andy Stankiewicz said the Trojans need to come out for the next two games ready and prepared to protect their turf.

“We’re at Dedeaux, man. We’ve got to protect our home and we didn’t do a good job tonight of doing that,” Stankiewicz said. “[We need to] come back tomorrow and play a better brand of baseball. That’s the biggest part in the development of our program is getting guys to understand that when they make mistakes, it happens, but we can’t make them again. ”

USC’s next game against UCLA will be Saturday at 6 p.m. at Dedeaux Field. The series will wrap up Sunday at 4 p.m.