Feb 24, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; General view of the NCAA championship baseball banners of the Southern California Trojans at the entrance to Dedeaux Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports
The USC Trojans (11-16, 4-5) headed into Cal Berkeley over the weekend coming off one of the most difficult stretches of their season, ready to make waves in Nor Cal. After losing the series finale against Washington and dropping both games to fourth-ranked Louisville, the Trojans bounced back with an impressive performance in Berkeley.
The Trojans and Golden Bears made history this weekend up in Berkeley, playing under a unique set of circumstances. As part of Cal’s incredible story of persistence and generosity, the Bears played their first game under the lights at historic Evans Diamond. With a packed house in attendance, the Golden Bear faithful were primed to support their ball club that battled adversity to reach the 2011 College World Series.
USC plated the eventual game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning, as a two-out RBI single dribbler down the third base line by Adam Landecker scored highly-touted freshmen Timmy Robinson to cap the historic evening.
The Trojan offense tallied 10 hits overall, including a solo home run by AJ Ramirez in the fifth inning. Seniors Adam Landecker and Greg Zebrack each had two hits on the day. The Trojans leaned on Boby Wheatley to set the tempo over the weekend. The junior threw a stellar performance going seven complete innings, allowing only one unearned run on four hits, while only walking one and striking out three.
The Trojans offense came alive on Saturday, putting together nine runs on 14 hits as the Trojans took game two from California, after having secured a 9-5 victory at Evans Diamond on Friday night. USC starter Wyatt Strahan earned his long overdue first win of the year, going six complete innings and allowing only four runs (three earned) on six hits while striking out one. Freshman Brent Wheatley earned a three-inning save, his first of the year, allowing the Golden Bears only one run-on-run hit while striking out two.
Five Trojans had two-hits days, with Blake Lacey and Vahn Bozoian each delivering two RBIs on the day. The Trojans and Strahan had to work out of an early innings hole, as Andrew Knapp had a two-run home run to put the Bears up 2-0 in the bottom of the first. The Bears then tacked on another run in the bottom of the second to put the Trojans in a 3-0 hole.
Sunday started off equally successful after Blake Lacey delivered his first homerun of the season, giving USC a 4-0 lead in by the fourth inning. Freshmen Kyle Twomey was dealing on the mound, striking out batters left and right until a shaky fifth inning. Berkeley’s Chris Paul hit a three-run home run to pull the Bears within one, 4-3. They would add on two more in the bottom of the sixth on back-to-back home runs by Devon Rodriguez and Andrew Knapp to take a 5-4 lead.
From that point forward, the Trojans staff failed to keep the game close as the Golden Bears scored eight runs in a horrendous seventh inning, officially breaking open the contest. USC failed to mount any significant comeback losing the series finale 15-5.
The Trojans now stand at 4-5 in Pac-12 play, with a non-league game versus UC Irvine on Tuesday before hosting Stanford in a crucial series for conference standings.