Road to Omaha Ends For Now

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Written by Caroline Deisley and Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributors

It was a wild and unbelievable nine-plus hours of baseball on Sunday for the Trojans' final two games of a historic 2015 season. USC entered the day with its back against the wall, facing elimination once again after defeating UC Santa Barbara on Saturday. The Trojans rallied late against San Diego State to advance to the regional final against Virginia, but fell in extra innings to the Cavaliers in the second game of the doubleheader to end their 2015 season with a 39-21 record.

"There's no reason for them to hang their heads. They had a hell of a year," said head coach Dan Hubbs. "The kids buy into what we do. They believe in it. They live it."

The possibility of staying alive looked grim early on for the Trojans as they dropped to a quick 3-0 deficit against the Aztecs. The Trojans' bats started heating up in the top of the fourth as they put up two runs before Timmy Robinson gave the Trojans the lead in the fifth inning with a monster two-run shot to left field sparking a five-run fifth inning for USC. The Aztecs immediately responded with a six-run inning of their own, taking back the lead and the game's momentum. They rode this hot streak into the seventh inning, putting up three more runs to lead the Trojans 11-7 heading into the eighth.

However, the Trojan team that seems to play best when odds are against them continued to rally in Lake Elsinore with a clutch, two-out, two RBI single from sophomore Jeremy Martinez, cutting the SDSU lead to two. In the top of the ninth with two outs, senior catcher Garrett Stubbs (right) came up clutch for yet another time this post season, ripping an RBI single to narrow the Aztecs' lead to one followed by another clutch two-out, two RBI single from Martinez to keep the hope of a trip to the College World Series alive.

"If that doesn't get you excited about college baseball, I don't know what will," Hubbs joked in between the doubleheader elimination games.

Battling fatigue but riding high on the adrenaline from an epic comeback, USC immediately had to turn around and prepare for its next game against the University of Virginia whom they lost to in the regional opener on Friday. The Trojans' momentum was quickly drained as the Cavaliers jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first, but the team with the epitome of the 'Fight On' spirit responded with a five-spot of its own in the first and a four-run bottom of the fourth to lead the Cavaliers early, 9-5.

"There's no quit in any guy on this team," praised Stubbs. "There was never a moment when we thought this game was over."

The Trojans held their four-run lead confidently until the team slowly started to unravel in the top of the eighth when their bats went cold. The Cavaliers quickly tied the game with a three-run eighth inning, and the momentum that had been in favor of the Trojans since the bottom of the first was now in the hands of a program that's won six of its last seven regional titles. Virginia continued its rally, forcing extra innings and ultimately causing the exhausted USC baseball team to crack, scoring five runs in the top of the 11th. It was early Monday morning when the final out was called, signaling a 14-10 loss for the Trojans and the end to their season.

USC finished with its best regular season record since 2001 and its first postseason berth since 2005, something seniors like Stubbs and Dante Flores have been devoting themselves to over the past four years.

"We set out at the beginning of the year to make a mark and that's exactly what we did," said an emotional Stubbs, the Lake Elsinore NCAA Regional MVP, after the game. "I don't think anyone is going to turn the TV off when they're watching USC now."

USC loses seniors like Stubbs - who was 4-for-9 on the day and 9-for-14 over the weekend - and second baseman Dante Flores. However, the team is stacked with young talent like sophomore first baseman Jeremy Martinez who drove in four RBIs in the final game against Virginia alone.

"The future's really bright for us," said Martinez. "There's a lot of young talent on our team... freshmen, sophomores that are going to be more developed, more mature. Again, the future is bright for USC."

Stubbs noted how the experience of this past weekend will only help the young Trojans as they continue to grow and develop into a team that can compete for a trip to Omaha. "You've been here. Now you know what it takes," he said.

"We came into the year and the kids said they wanted to make a mark. They wanted to make a statement and they wanted to get the program back to where it was relevant," said Hubbs. "Well, I think they've done that."

USC is set to return 31 players from this year's squad, pending MLB Draft decisions from some of the team's non-seniors. Regardless, the 2015 season was one for the books, and this past weekend's regional is hopefully just a glimpse of what this program is capable of accomplishing.

Here are the highlights and celebration from USC's comeback victory over San Diego State on Sunday...

Not Ready to Go

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Senior catcher Garrett Stubbs and the 2015 Trojans are in the same position. The next loss this weekend will be there last.

Thumbnail image for USC_BASEBALL_UVA_NCAA_REGIONAL_052915_MCG4726.jpgWith their backs against the wall, the Trojans came out fighting on Saturday afternoon in Lake Elsinore, pasting No. 1 seed UC Santa Barbara 12-3 led by Stubbs, who went 3-4 with an RBI double. The team leader is now 5/7 plus two walks in the postseason.

"This could be my last game ever in a Trojan uniform, but I try not to think about that kind of stuff," Stubbs acknowledged the tenuous nature of his USC career. "This team is really, really good, and I think we showed it at the end of the game here."

Click here for the recap.

Stubbs opened the scoring with an RBI double high off the right field "monster" in the 3rd inning, giving USC its first lead of the NCAA Regional. He drove in another run with a single in the 7th.

Junior starter Kyle Twomey took it from there, giving up three runs on seven hits over 7.1 innings to claim the victory. While the bullpen made things interesting for a minute, Tyler Gilbert settled down the Gauchos with a huge strikeout to strand the bases loaded in the 8th.

"I was very nervous," Gilbert admitted about coming into a chaotic situation with the bases loaded and a 2-0 count on the hitter. "I think that kind of helped me in a way, just focus up and throw the ball over the plate."

After Gilbert's heroics, the offense turned a 5-3 game into a 12-3 blowout. After going 1/21 in Friday's loss, USC's 4-9 hitters broke out for eight hits and eight RBI, highlighted by SS Reggie Southall (2/3 with 3 runs scored), RF A.J. Ramirez (3-run double) and 3B Blake Lacey (2/4 with 2 RBI).

The Trojans will live to play another day, but the test is even greater on Sunday. Having sent home No. 1 seed UCSB, USC will face either Virginia or San Diego State in the first game of a doubleheader tomorrow at 3 p.m. If the Trojans win, they will face the winner of UVA/SDSU in the second game on Sunday at 7 p.m. Even with a doubleheader sweep, USC will have one more game to win on Monday to advance to the Super Regionals.

While the odds are still stacked against them, Stubbs (pictured) and his team are willing to do whatever it takes to keep this season and his USC career going.

Photo Gallery: Baseball Falls to UVA

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USC baseball is in desperation mode now, having fallen to Virginia in the opening game of the NCAA Regional at Lake Elsinore, leaving the Trojans to play UCSB for their season today at 3 p.m.

USC's performance in the 6-1 loss was not without highlights as Kyle Davis pitched a beautiful game, carrying a no-hitter through six innings, and Bobby Stahel made a remarkable catch in left field, which SportsCenter ranked as its No. 1 overall play on Friday.

Here are the John McGillen photos including a great look at Stahel laying out to make the play:

Slow Start

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Written by Grace DeWitt, USC blog contributor 

No. 2 seed USC baseball kicked off the road to Omaha today against No. 3 seed University of Virginia at Lake Elsinore Stadium. Despite outstanding pitching from junior RHP Kyle Davis, the Trojans dropped their opening game and now are looking to bounce back as they face elimination.

The fast-moving game started with an incredible diving catch deep in left field by redshirt junior Bobby Stahel. The Trojans' great fielding combined with Davis for one of his most impressive performances of the season, a no-hitter through the first six innings that included two strikeouts.

"Kyle pitched an unbelievable game," said senior captain Garrett Stubbs, who added that he was quick to commend his teammate's efforts after the game.

Though USC began the game with two singles from Stubbs and sophomore first baseman Jeremy Martinez, the Trojans didn't capitalize on opportunities at the plate. Stubbs and Martinez did add to the Trojans' hit tally with another set of singles in the sixth. 

But it was Virginia, the 2014 College World Series runner-up, who put the first points on the board late in the game. The Cavaliers scored two runs in the seventh to end Davis' hot streak and followed with another run in the eighth inning to bring the score to 3-0. Martinez finally ended the shutout in the bottom of the eighth inning, hitting a single into left field to bring in Stubbs. 

Virginia added on to its lead with three runs in the ninth inning to defeat USC, 6-1. 

Despite the loss, the Trojans were hopeful about the rest of the weekend as they now face elimination. "I do know this about our team," said coach Dan Hubbs. "We're pretty resilient." 

Hubbs recalled the team's closing weekend against Arizona State, hinting that he hoped for a similar result this weekend. The Trojans followed a Friday loss to the Sundevils with back-to-back wins on Saturday and Sunday. Stubbs expressed similar optimism. "I think we play better when our backs are against the wall," he said. 

The head coach added that he felt comfortable with how things stood. "I think you're gonna see the Trojans show up tomorrow and be just fine."

USC plays again tomorrow at 3 p.m. PT against the winner of San Diego State vs. UC-Santa Barbara, the second of Friday's games.

Back Where They Belong

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USC baseball begins the road to Omaha today at 3 p.m. PT against Virginia in Lake Elsinore.

Click here to watch live online.

Click here for ticket information.

Click here for our Tournament Central page.

Here is Katie Boggs' feature on how Dan Hubbs, Garrett Stubbs and the Trojans returned to prominence:

All-Conference Turner Rows USC to NCAAs

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USC women's rowing begins its seventh consecutive NCAA Championships today, taking on the nation's best boats over the next three days on Lake Natoma in Gold River, California. The Women of Troy will be led by senior starboard Elizabeth Turner who was named to the 2015 Pac-12 All-Conference team.

Click here for the NCAA preview.

Turner is the program's 39th all-conference selection to go along with being a two-time Pac-12 All-Academic honoree. The two-time captain is also a two-time Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) National Scholar Athlete.

For all the live updates from this weekend's regatta, follow @USCWomensRowing on Twitter.

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Sizing Up The Competition

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No. 15 USC baseball begins its road to Omaha on Friday after finishing with its best regular season record since 2001. The Trojans snagged the No. 2 seed in the Lake Elsinore Regional and will face No. 3 seed Virginia at 3 p.m. PT. 

Here is a preview of all four teams competing in the regional this weekend...


Best on the Beach

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USC sand volleyball stakes the claim to the best team on the beach at both the college and professional level. The Women of Troy flexed their muscle through an undefeated season led by Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes, the national pairs champions, and at the AVP level, USC alum April Ross seemingly never loses with her partner Kerri Walsh Jennings.

Ross and Walsh Jennings started the 2015 season the same way they played throughout their perfect 2014 campaign. The duo claimed the New Orleans Open title by defeating another former USC All-American Jennifer Kessy with her new partner Emily Day.

Click here for more.

Ross and Kessy teamed up to win the Olympic silver medal at London 2012, losing to former USC sand volleyball assistant coach Misty May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings in the final. Walsh Jennings will be going for her fourth Olympic gold medal with Ross at Rio 2016.

RB6_6388.JPG(Photo by Robert Beck)

Let the Countdown Begin

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Trojan Track Corner: Myles Andrews

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USC track & field needs to finds it finishing kick now as the NCAA Championships are upon us. The Trojans are in action this week (Thursday-Saturday) at the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds in Austin, Texas, trying to qualify as many athletes as possible for the NCAA Finals in Eugene, Oregon (June 10-13).

Click here for the prelims preview.

Senior Myles Andrews is among those competing this week as he attempts to qualify for the 800m. Here is more on Andrews in the latest "Trojan Track Corner":