Rally keeps Tro­jans alive

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Shot­gun Spratling sports@la­times.com

Down to its fi­nal out, the USC base­ball team had a sud­den re­vival in the ninth in­ning Sun­day to stave off elim­i­na­tion with a three-run rally. The Tro­jans de­feated San Diego State, 12-11, to stay alive in the Lake Elsi­nore Re­gional of the NCAA tour­na­ment.

With two outs, Bobby Sta­hel drew a walk. Gar­rett Stubbs hit an RBI sin­gle to pull USC within one run of the Aztecs and put the ty­ing run 90 feet away. On an 0-1 pitch, Jeremy Martinez lined a dou­ble into the left­cen­ter-field gap. Stubbs hus­tled around from first base and slid in to score the go-ahead run be­fore catcher Seby Zavala could con­trol a throw up the third base line.

Zavala led off the ninth in­ning with a hit, but af­ter a strike­out, he was dou­bled off first base on a shal­low f ly to right field to end the game.

“If that doesn’t get you to love col­lege base­ball I don’t know what will,” USC Coach Dan Hubbs said. “I think that the kids on both sides bat­tled and fought. There was no quit on ei­ther side.”

Tyler Gil­bert picked up the win with 21⁄3 score­less innings. He struck out two and gave up only the hit to Zavala.

One of those strike­outs came in the sev­enth in­ning to quell an Aztecs rally. For the sec­ond day in a row, Gil- bert en­tered with the bases loaded and got the Tro­jans out of a jam. Be­fore Gil­bert’s re­lief ef­fort, San Diego State scored eight unan­swered runs, in­clud­ing three in the sev­enth in­ning, to push its lead to 11-7.

It was the sec­ond dras­tic shift in the game. San Diego State opened the game with a 3-0 lead af­ter two innings. But af­ter be­ing shut down for three innings, the USC of­fense awak­ened. David Op­pen­heim dou­bled home a run in the fourth in­ning and scored on an AJ Ramirez sin­gle.

Timmy Robin­son put the Tro­jans ahead with a tworun homer to left field in the fifth in­ning, and af­ter an Op­pen­heim RBI sin­gle in the sixth in­ning, Ramirez hit an op­po­site field two-run home run for a 7-3 lead.

But that was not a com­fort­able edge. San Diego State scored five runs in the sixth in­ning and three in the sev­enth.

“We felt like the last team that was go­ing to hit was go­ing to win that,” Aztecs Coach Mark Martinez said. “But we got to hit last and didn’t win.”

With the loss, San Diego State was elim­i­nated from the NCAA tour­na­ment, com­plet­ing its sea­son with a 41-23 record. USC ad­vanced to play Vir­ginia in a game later Sun­day night. The Tro­jans (39-20) needed to beat the Cava­liers twice to win the re­gional.

Shot­gun Spratling Los An­ge­les Times

GAR­RETT STUBBS races around third to score the win­ning run for USC against San Diego State.

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