Despite Early Lead, Trojans Fall at UC Irvine, 6-4|
March 4, 2014
IRVINE, Calif. - The USC baseball team jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, but was unable to hold on, falling 6-4 at UC Irvine on Tuesday evening.
At the plate the Trojans were led by Pac-12 Player of the Week Kevin Swick (La Canada, Calif./Loyola HS), who continued his hot-hitting, going 3-for-4 at the plate with one RBI.
The Trojan pitching staff was plagued by walks on the night, allowing seven free passes. Three of those walks came back to haunt the Trojans as they eventually came around to score.
The Trojans tallied 10 hits on the evening and climbed on top early, taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning as freshman catcher Jeremy Martinez (Fountain Valley, Calif./Mater Dei HS) blasted his first career home run, a two run shot to deep left field.
The Trojans added on again in the top of the fourth inning, as a leadoff single from Dante Flores (Norwalk, Calif./St. John Bosco HS) drove Anteater starting pitcher Evan Manarino from the game. Against the new pitcher, Jake Hernandez (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Los Osos HS), who was a stellar 2-for-3 at the plate on the day, laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Flores to second. A groundout moved Flores up 90 feet, allowing Blake Lacey (Clovis, Calif./Clovis HS) to deliver a two-out single to put the Trojans ahead, 3-0.
However in the bottom of the fourth inning, Trojans starter Brent Wheatley (Villa Park, Calif./Orange Lutheran HS) displayed some command issues with one out, walking back-to-back Anteaters after long at-bats. Wheatley's day was over in favor of freshman righty Jeff Paschke (Santa Barbara, Calif./Santa Barbara HS). After he allowed a walk to load the bases, the flood gates opened, as five runs came home on three hits to put the Trojans down, 5-3. Sophomore lefty Sean Adler (Northridge, Calif./Sierra Canyon HS) entered to record the final out of the inning.
The Anteaters added another run in the fifth inning and the Trojans found themselves playing catch up with a 6-3 deficit.
The Trojans took advantage of a double with one out by Garrett Stubbs (Del Mar, Calif./Torrey Pines HS) in the top of the seventh inning, setting up the hot-hitting Swick with two outs to single up the middle to put the score at 6-4.
Overall the Trojans stranded seven baserunners as they just could not get the timely hits to fall.
Bright spots on the night included relievers James Guillen (Covina, Calif./Damien HS) and Nigel Nootbaar (El Segundo, Calif./El Segundo HS), who both looked sharp in their outings. Guillen threw two innings of shutout ball, only allowing two hits, while Nootbaar put up a zero in the bottom of the eighth, keeping things close and giving the Trojans a shot at a comeback in the top of the ninth.
The team will regroup as they return to Dedeaux Field this weekend for three games. On Friday the Trojans host Houston at 6 p.m., then welcome Pepperdine on Saturday at 2 p.m. and finally a big nonconference game vs. crosstown rival UCLA at 1 p.m. on Sunday.