Baseball narrowly avoids getting swept at home


Junior pitcher Austin Manning is the only member of the Trojan pitching staff to not allow a run this season. (Michelle Mankoff/Daily Trojan)

The Trojan baseball team lost two of three games against Grand Canyon University at Dedeaux Field over the weekend.

USC’s struggles began on Friday in a 4-2 defeat against a GCU team looking to bounce back after three consecutive losses. The game was a defensive stalemate, as both teams went scoreless after five innings, but GCU finally broke the game open at the top of the sixth with a 4-run inning.

With two outs left in the bottom of the seventh inning, sophomore infielder Ben Ramirez started the Trojans’ scoring with a ground ball single up the middle that put redshirt junior catcher CJ Stubbs on third. The rally continued when junior infielder John Thomas floated a ball over center field that cut the deficit to 2 runs, but the Trojans’ bats cooled down for the rest of the game.

The second game of the series was rained out on Saturday, which meant a doubleheader for the two teams the next day.

USC trailed early after giving up 7 runs in the first three innings to start the day. In the fourth inning, freshman infielder Emilio Rosas put the Trojans on the board with a single that split the gap over right center field.

Outfielders junior Matthew Acosta and sophomore Jamal O’Guinn would chip away at the deficit in the fifth inning with a pair of RBIs that cut GCU’s lead to 4.

GCU sophomore pitcher Zach Barnes responded with a great stretch, retiring nine consecutive batters to set up sophomore pitcher Coen Wynne with a 4-run lead. Wynne pitched a scoreless ninth to close the game for the Antelopes 7-3.

In the second game of the day, the Trojans scored early with a sacrifice fly by O’Guinn that pushed junior outfielder Blake Sabol across home to give USC its first lead of the series.

Grand Canyon would tie things up in the fourth with a solo home run over right center from redshirt sophomore first baseman Cuba Bess. Unfortunately for the Antelopes, their offensive success ended there.

In the sixth inning, USC took back the lead with a RBI single from senior infielder Chase Bushor. A run on a walk by Sabol put the Trojans ahead by 2 runs by the end of the inning.

The two teams entered the eighth inning with the Trojans up 3-1, and USC’s offense put the game away by surging for 4 runs.

With the bases loaded, a wild pitch by GCU senior pitcher Nick Ohanian allowed Bushor to take home and expand the Trojans’ lead to 3.

After GCU walked Stubbs to load the bases again, Acosta pushed 2 runs across by hitting a looper into right field. Sabol and Thomas both scored, bringing the game to 6-1.

“Hitting is contagious, and obviously getting guys on base was the biggest thing no matter what it was — with the walk, hit by pitch or even the hit,” Acosta said. “Hitting is contagious, getting on base is contagious and I’m just happy that we did it all with two outs, and just keeping it going was the biggest thing.”

Before the inning came to a close, Stubbs was walked home to make the score 7-1. Pitchers senior Quentin Longrie and junior Chris Clarke each threw a scoreless frame to end the game, securing the win for the Trojans.

Acosta led the Trojans with 3 RBIs on the day, going 3-for-7 with two doubles and a run. Junior pitcher Connor Lunn picked up the win in relief with three scoreless innings in which he gave up one hit, walked one and struck out two.

With the win, the Trojans avoided a series sweep, hoping to establish some momentum and tighten things up defensively before a tough slate of games.

“The guys [have] just got to keep rolling with some confidence — go up there and just compete, compete, compete,” head coach Dan Hubbs said. “We need good outings from our pitching, we don’t hurt ourselves and if we do those things, we will be able to win the games 2-1 and 3-2 until we get things rolling offensively.”

The weekend dropped the Trojans to 4-6 as they look ahead to a Tuesday matchup against Loyola Marymount. The first pitch is at 3 p.m. Afterward, USC will face a gauntlet of games over the weekend against Oklahoma State, No. 16 Michigan and No. 2 UCLA.