Trojans Open the Season with Walk-Off Victory in Extra Innings Over Northwestern, 4-3
Feb. 15, 2014
LOS ANGELES - The USC baseball team took advantage of their opportunities when it counted to earn an exciting 4-3 victory in 11 innings over visiting Northwestern on Friday afternoon to open the 2014 campaign.
The Trojan offense collected 12 hits, including two hits apiece from Timmy Robinson (Huntington Beach, Calif./Ocean View HS), Dante Flores (Norwalk, Calif./St. John Bosco HS), Frankie Rios (Lakewood, Calif./Long Beach Poly HS) and Kevin Swick (La Canada, Calif./Loyola HS). Flores, Swick and freshman Jeremy Martinez (Fountain Valley, Calif./Mater Dei HS) each drove in runs in the victory.
On the mound, junior starter Wyatt Strahan (Villa Park, Calif./Villa Park HS) went a solid 6.0 innings, allowing only two runs on five hits, while striking out five in the no-decision. He started the game off strong, settling in to strike out three of the first six batters he faced.
The Trojans struck first in the bottom of the fourth inning, as Flores drew a one-out walk from Wildcat starter Brandon Magallones. A single from Swick put runners on the corners and Martinez came through with his first collegiate RBI, a sac fly to score Flores.
The Wildcats countered with two runs in the top of the sixth to take a 2-1 lead as they took advantage of two free passes from Strahan to start the inning.
The Trojans answered in the bottom of the inning to tie things up, as catcher Garrett Stubbs (Del Mar, Calif./Torrey Pines HS) led off the inning with a walk himself. Robinson laid down a nice sacrifice bunt and a single from Flores to center brought Stubbs home.
In the bottom of the eighth the Trojans took a 3-2 lead as Robinson led off the inning with a single and Flores delivered a sacrifice bunt to allow Swick to drive home the run with a laser double down the left field line off Wildcat reliever Ethan Bramschreiber.
After lefty reliever Sean Adler (Northridge, Calif./Sierra Canyon HS) threw two shutout innings in the seventh and eighth innings, only allowing one hit while striking out two, sophomore right-hander Brent Wheatley (Villa Park, Calif./Orange Lutheran HS) entered in the top of the ninth.
Wheatley induced two ground outs to start the ninth and the Wildcats were down to their last out. A double by Kyle Ruchim gave way to a single to left field by Scott Heelan to drive in the run and tie the game up, 3-3.
In the bottom of the ninth AJ Ramirez (Bakersfield, Calif./Bakersfield Christian HS) singled to lead off the inning. Another solid sacrifice bunt from Rios put Ramirez in scoring position. Ramirez then advanced to third on aggressive base running on a passed ball. With two outs, the Wildcats brought in new reliever Jack Quigley. On the first pitch, Stubbs lays down an excellent bunt down the left field line, but Quigley makes an even better play to grab the ball and tag Ramirez out along the third base line to end the inning.
Wheatley puts up a zero in the top of the 10th and the Trojans have a scoring opportunity in the bottom of the 10th, as Robinson starts off the inning with a single up the middle. Flores again lays down the sacrifice bunt to put the go ahead run at second. Swick then reaches on an error by the second baseman to put runners on the corners, with just one out. After Martinez was intentionally walked to load the bases, the Trojans were unable to plate a run, as they were cut down at the dish on a fielder's choice and strikeout ended the inning.
Wheatley got the first two outs of the 11th inning and then with a runner on second, James Guillen (Covina, Calif./Damien HS) entered to induce a flyout to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 11th, the Trojans once again led off the inning with a single, this time by Rios. Omar Cotto Lozada (San Juan, Puerto Rico/Bonneville School) was hit by the pitch to put two on, and a bunt single by Stubbs loaded the bases. Robinson then reached on a fielder's choice, as a throwing error by the third baseman who decided to come home got past the catcher and Rios stepped on home to give the Trojans the walk-off victory, 4-3.
The Trojans and Wildcats will meet again on Saturday, in game two of the series at 2 p.m. PT at Dedeaux Field.