The USC Trojans (12-20) jumped out to an early lead at Goodwin Field but suffered through a tragic third inning in a 6-4 loss to fourth-ranked Cal State Fullerton (29-4).
The Trojans finished the game with 10 hits–the same as the Titans–but the team was unable to string together timely hits, especially in the later innings, as they stranded nine total base runners in the game.
Early on the Trojans were able to put things together, jumping out to a quick 2-0 lead. They got on the board first with back-to-back doubles from Kevin Swick and Blake Lacey to go ahead 1-0 against starting pitcher Sophomore Kobe Guana. Guana pitched five scoreless innings against the Trojans in his last start, but could not get past the third inning after striking out two in the opening frame.
In the top of the third, Timmy Robinson deposited the first pitch he saw over the wall in left center field for his first collegiate home run, giving the Trojans a 2-0 lead. This hit shifted the momentum of the game against a Fullerton squad that already defeated USC twice this season by a combined eight runs.
The lead was short-lived, however, as the Titans roared back against left hander Sean Adler who was making his first collegiate start. The freshman looked steady through innings one and two, but he got into trouble with two outs in the bottom of the third. Then, powerful right-handed hitter J.D. Davis crushed a first-pitch fastball over the fence for a grandslam giving Fullerton a 4-2 lead. The next batter Michael Lorenzen continued his impressive power display, posting his seventh home run of the season, extending the lead 5-2.
Adler was lifted for Nigel Nootbaar, who gave up one final run on an RBI single from Matt Chapman to put the Trojans down, 6-2. Adler was helped defensively in his 2.2 innings of relief by a nice double play turned up the middle by Adam Landecker in the first inning, forcing a quick one-two-three in the opening frame. Lorenzen blasted the grand slam in the third, but was robbed of a double by starting left fielder Bobby Stahel who leaped at the wall to make a spectacular catch in the second.
Nootbaar pitched through the fifth inning, limiting the Titans attack to only two base hits in the next 2.1 innings. The Trojans bats came alive in the fifth, scoring two runs on sacrifice flies by Kevin Swick and Blake Lacey making the score 6-4 in favor of the Titans. From that point on, the Trojans went 0-2 with runners in scoring position to finish the game, limiting any chance for a comeback.
Home-run machine Lorenzen entered the game in the ninth for Fullerton Head Coach Rick Vanderhook, sealing the deal for the Titans. After allowing a two-out double to red hot Swick (2-5 on the night), Lorenzen forced Lacey to pop up to right, ending the contest as the games tying run.
The loss completes the Titans season sweep over the Trojans for the second-straight season. Fullerton will now present their impressive 29-4 record for a league series against UC Santa Barbara. While the Trojans head home to face Arizona State in a three-game series starting Friday night at 6 P.M.
Freshmen Shane Gonzales and Brooks Kriske pitched the final three innings for the Trojans. Dan Hubbs used three freshmen alongside sophomore Nigel Nootbaar in the losing effort. Blake Lacey and Kevin Swick brought their bats to Fullerton, finishing the game a combined 5-10 including three extra-base hits; as Swick now holds an impressive four-game hitting streak. Freshmen Bobby Stahel capitalized on his third-straight start, going 2-4 in the contest while also collecting his third HBP in two games, drastically raising his on-base percentage.