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Cold Bats On A Cold Night Doom The Trojans

Jackson Safon |
April 7, 2015 | 11:40 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

USC Baseball fell to UCSB for the second time this season (@Pac12Networks/Twitter)
USC Baseball fell to UCSB for the second time this season (@Pac12Networks/Twitter)

After a 90-minute rain delay, the USC Trojans (25-7) fell to the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (24-7) by a score of 2-1 in what was a top-25 battle.

The Trojans were 15-2 at home coming into this game, but it was the Gauchos who came out on top on back-to-back two-run singles in the sixth by Peter Maris and pinch-hitter Kyle Plantier. 

USC starter Jeff Paschke had not pitched since March 24 against Pepperdine and came out a bit rusty. After just two innings, Paschke was replaced by lefty Bernardo Flores. Flores loaded the bases in the third, but escaped the jam and really settled down after that until the sixth. 

Coach Dan Hubbs was happy with the way Paschke pitched, and said the innings limit was just to save him for this weekend’s set of games, “I’m trying not to use all our bullets going into the weekend…we needed to see him pitch like he did. He had two really good innings, so that was good, to get out of there with a lot of confidence.”

On the other side, Gaucho starter Domenic Mazza was lights out for the second time this season against the Trojans, throwing seven shutout innings and only allowing four hits and one walk. In two games, Mazza has now gone 14 2/3 innings against the Trojans, allowing a total of just nine hits and two runs. 

Right fielder Luke Swenson made a couple huge defensive plays, namely his diving catch in right center in the fifth inning. With two outs and two runners on, Swenson saved two runs with his great grab. 

The Trojans only managed six hits throughout the entire game, and scored their only run on a passed ball in the eighth inning. Two passed balls by Gaucho catcher Campbell Wear allowed Bobby Stahel to score, but the Trojans could not punch across any other runs despite hitting the ball hard several times throughout the night. 

Coach Hubbs, however, did remain confident after the game. 

“I thought we smashed some balls right at people,” Hubbs pointed out. “He pitched well, but it would be interesting to see what the game was like if Jeremy’s ball falls in right field.”

Even when the Trojans did get runners on, they could not capitalize on their chances. Whether it be falling just one hit short, or not playing sound situational baseball, USC just could not make the big plays in key opportunities. 

In the fifth inning, Blake Lacey led off with a single for the Trojans, but when David Oppenheim tried to bunt him over, he bunted it directly to the pitcher who turned and fired to second to start the 1-4-3 double play. 

In a game as close as that one, where scoring chances were hard to come by, its mistakes like those that cost the team the game. 

Coach Hubbs lamented this issue, saying that not only did that play cost them a base runner and an out, it cost them a chance to put pressure on the opposing pitcher. 

“We bunted into a double play instead of getting the sacrifice down…we gotta be able to get that done,” he remarked. “That puts a little bit of heat on him to have to get AJ out right there…In a 2-1 game every little bit counts.”

The bright spot for the Trojans is the same one that it has been for weeks: Bobby Stahel. Stahel came into the game with the third highest batting average in the country, and added to it with a two-for-four night. 

While his individual statistics have been great, Stahel just wants to win and do it for his team.

“My mentality and my approach hasn’t changed, I just feel relaxed. I’m out here playing for the guys,” he said. “My job is to get on base and spark this offense, bring a lot of energy. I just do my best to help these guys out and get that W.” 

Although this was a tough loss, the team is confident and looks to turn it around in a key weekend series against their crosstown rivals. The Trojans play three games against UCLA at Dedeaux Field before heading to Pepperdine next week. 

Reach Staff Reporter Jackson Safon here.



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