After winning two of their first three games against the University of Nebraska-Omaha, the USC Trojans continued their homestand with a three-game set against SEC powerhouse, Arkansas.
Thursday, February 21, 2019
The Trojans opened their first game of a three-game set against No. 16-ranked Arkansas with a loss. The game marked the first time in program history that the Razorbacks played at Dedeaux Field. This was also the second time that these two storied programs faced off against each other in consecutive seasons.
The Razorbacks jumped to a 3-0 lead in the second inning and made it 5-0 before the end of the third. USC senior starter Quentin Longrie was forced out after just three innings of work, having given up 5 runs, 4 earned on just four hits.
USC answered back in the bottom half of the fourth inning with 3 runs of their own. All 3 runs came on a hit-by-pitch or walk and cut Arkansas' lead in half, 6-3. Those 3 runs would be the only runs for the Trojans, as they left three men on base to end the inning.
The trio of Kole Rampage, Zebulon Vermillion and Matt Cronin quieted the rally and kept the lead intact for the Razorbacks. USC's Austin Manning (junior) and Isaac Esqueda (sophomore) prevented any late runs in their six innings of work out of the bullpen, but the Trojan's offense was unable to repay them.
Final Score: 6-3
Friday, February 22, 2019
The Trojans played the second of a three-game home series against Arkansas on Friday evening, with the hope of ending their two-game losing skid.
USC sophomore pitcher Kyle Hurt made his second start of the season, looking to build upon his five-inning, six strikeout performance in the season opener.
Similar to Thursday's game, the Trojans went down early thanks to a two-out RBI double off the right-field wall from Arkansas center fielder and Southern California native Dominic Fletcher in the first inning.
The Trojans were able to strike back in the bottom half of the third, as junior DH Brady Shockey began the rally by driving a ball up the middle to give the Trojans their first hit of the night.
Shockey's spark proved to be just what the Trojans needed to get going, as junior John Thomas would go on to execute a perfect hit and run to put runners on the corners for junior leadoff hitter, Matthew Acosta.
Acosta delivered for USC, singling to right to score 2 runs, while advancing himself to third on a fielding error, tying the game 2-2.
Senior Chase Bushor laid down a perfect squeeze bunt for the Trojans to bring home Acosta. Bushor landed on second, following another throwing error to first. The error, again, proved to be costly for Arkansas, as sophomore Jamal O'Guinn brought home Bushor with a single in the following at-bat, picking up his fifth and sixth RBI's of the season, and widening the lead to 4-1 for USC at the end of the third.
The Razorbacks answered right back in the fourth, but Hurt was able to work out of a jam and limit the damage to only 2 runs, keeping the Trojans in the lead at 4-3.
Hurt began to struggle with his command in the top half of the fifth, hitting leadoff batter Christian Franklin with a pitch to give the Razorbacks a baserunner. Arkansas' Casey Martin followed the HBP with a deep 2-run home run to put the Razorbacks back on top 5-4 and end Hurt's night. Hurt finished with a final line of 5 earned runs in five innings pitched on three hits with five strikeouts.
A rough sixth inning for sophomore relief pitcher Brian Gursky made matters worse for the Trojans, as Arkansas would tack on 2 more runs, increasing the Trojan deficit to 3.
The back and forth action would continue, as the Trojans brought home 2 more runs in the sixth inning, courtesy of an RBI single from redshirt-junior C.J. Stubbs, chipping away at the lead to make it 7-6 in favor of the Razorbacks.
After the Razorbacks tacked on another run in the top half of the ninth, the Trojans' rally attempt ultimately fell short, as Dan Hubbs's squad was unable to overcome their own mistakes on the night. Finishing with three errors and four stolen bases allowed, USC dropped its second game of the series and third straight overall.
Final Score: 8-6
Saturday, February 23, 2019
The Trojans wrapped up their three-game set with a game-winning walk-off home run in extra innings courtesy of Stubbs. USC avoided the sweep with their 6-4 win over No. 16 Arkansas and improved to 3-3 on the season.
Following their loss on Friday, the Trojans came out swinging against the Razorbacks. Bushor opened the game with a home run to left field off Arkansas starter Connor Noland in the first inning. Thomas tacked on an RBI in the second inning to put the Trojans up 2-1.
Despite the opening scoring, the game was a tight pitching duel between Noland and USC sophomore starter John Beller. In four innings of work, Nolan allowed three hits, 2 runs and stuck out two. Beller's six strikeouts across five innings, with just five hits given up and 1 run allowed, helped continue his impressive start to the season.
Arkansas tied the game late in the 7th inning on a one-out single from Christian Franklin. USC answered back in the bottom half of the eighth inning on Stubbs double to right field to go up 3-2.
In the 9th inning, Arkansas scored on a passed ball to tie the game at 3-3. USC went down in order, pushing the game to extra innings.
Cypress native Dominic Fletcher opened the 10th inning with a home run to push the Razorbacks up 4-3. In the bottom of the 10th, USC was down to its final strike when O'Guinn singled to tie the game at 4-4. Stubbs followed the single with a 2-run home run to walk off the Trojans.
"[The walk-off win] was one of the most emotional games I've ever played in," Stubbs said. "We needed this one."
The Trojans will continue their homestand with four games this week. On Tuesday, the team will take on UC Santa Barbara before opening a three-game set against Grand Canyon University. Last season, the Trojans split the season series against UCSB, 1-1. USC did not play GCU in 2018
David Ramirez contributed to this recap.