Looking to improve on their 20-36 record in 2013, Dan Hubbs’ USC Trojans began the 2014 season with a three-game against the Northwestern Wildcats.
If the first two games into the 2014 schedule are any indication, the Trojans, who were picked to finish ninth in the Pac-12, may be in line for a thrilling season.
In the season opener on Feb. 14, the Trojans and Wildcats played into the 11th inning after the teams exchanged scores in the eighth and ninth innings. Freshman Jeremy Martinez got the Trojans on the scoreboard first with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fourth inning.
The Wildcats responded with two runs in the top of the sixth inning and the Trojans tacked on another in the bottom half of the sixth as the teams entered the bottom of the eighth deadlocked at 2-2.
Garrett Stubbs began the Trojan rally with a leadoff walk and after being sacrificed over to second base on a Timmy Robinson bunt, Stubbs was singled in on a Dante Flores base hit, giving the Trojans a 3-2 lead.
After retiring the first two Wildcat batters in the ninth inning, Brent Wheatley gave up a double and run-scoring single to consecutive hitters, tying the game at 3-3. The Trojans managed to get a man on third base with two outs in the ninth, but failed to score on an attempted squeeze play.
Frankie Rios lead off the 11th inning with a single, which was followed by Omar Cotto Lozado reaching on a hit-by-pitch and a bunt for base hit by Stubbs.
Robinson was then up to bat with the bases loaded and no outs. He hit a grounder to Wildcat third baseman Nick Linne, who attempted to throw out Rios at the plate but the ball sailed past catcher Scott Heelan and the Trojans walked off with a 4-3 win.
James Guillen, who pitched 0.1 of an inning, collected the win on Friday.
With no rest for the weary, the two teams were back on field for a 2 p.m. start on Saturday.
The game didn’t include as much back and forth as Friday’s game with the Wildcats getting on the board first in the fourth inning to take a 1-0 lead, but the Trojans quickly responded in the bottom half to tie it at 1-1.
The Trojans and Wildcats would then go scoreless for the next 10 innings, stranding 14 and 13 runners, respectively. Flores drew a lead-off walk in the bottom of the 15th and advanced to third on a Martinez single up the middle.
That set the stage for freshman Joe Corrigan, who hit a flyball to center field, sacrificing Flores in for the 4-3 victory and giving Corrigan his first collegiate RBI.
The Trojans have amassed 23 hits through the first two games of the season and will go for the series sweep when the teams meet again at 1 p.m. on Sunday.