No. 12 Trojans Unable to Even Up Series, Fall 5-4 to Visiting North Dakota

    Lars Nootbaar led the way at the plate on Saturday.
    Feb. 20, 2016

    Final Stats

    LOS ANGELES – The No. 12-ranked Trojans had their opportunities, but were unable to push across the game-tying run in the bottom of the ninth inning, falling 5-4 to visiting North Dakota in game two of the series.

    The Trojans were able to get the offense going better on Saturday, managing four runs on just six hits, but three of their runs came on RBI sac flies, as freshman Lars Nootbaar (El Segundo, Calif./El Segundo HS) had two and junior Jeremy Martinez (Fountain Valley, Calif./Mater Dei HS).

    Saturday starter Brent Wheatley took the loss, as he was charged all five runs on six hits and two walks through 4.1 innings of work. He struck out six in his season debut.

    After giving up one run in the first inning, Wheatley settled in as he put up zeroes in the second and third innings.

    The Trojans answered the Fighting Hawks’ (2-0) run in the first with two in the second, as David Oppenheim (Mercer Island, Wash./College of the Canyons) led off the inning with a single and AJ Ramirez (Phoenix, Ariz./Bakersfield Christian HS) doubled off the wall in left field to bring Oppenheim home. After a walk and a sac bunt, Nootbaar delivered his first sac fly in the game to give the Trojans the 2-1 lead.

    However, the Fighting Hawks answered with back-to-back solo home runs by Daniel Lockhert and Connor Trygstad in the fourth to take the lead back, 3-2. That would not last for long, however, as the Trojans tied things up in the bottom half of the inning with Nootbaar’s second sac fly of the day.

    The Fighting Hawks were not going to quit, however, and the responded with two more runs of their own in the top of the fifth, chasing starter Wheatley after a double by Ben Reznicek brought home one run. Reliever Joe Navilhon (Brentwood, Calif./Chabot College) entered and after he hit the first batter he faced, a double steal put runners at second and third with one down. Navilhon induced a ground ball, but it scored the runner from third to put the score at 5-3. The junior college transfer settled in and was strong in his USC debut, allowing just one run, no walks and five strikeouts through 2.2 innings.



    In the bottom of the seventh the Trojans chipped into the lead against Fighting Hawks reliever Austin Crank. Nootbaar led off the inning with a single and Angelo Armenta (Monrovia, Calif./Loyola HS) drew a four-pitch walk. Both base runners advanced 90 feet on a wild pitch, setting up a lineout to center field sacrifice fly by Martinez to pull the Trojans within one, 5-4.

    The combined efforts of Navilhon, Brad Wegman (Temecula, Calif./Great Oak HS) and Brooks Kriske (Palm Desert, Calif./Palm Desert HS) kept the Fighting Hawks off the board and the Trojans within one.

    In the bottom of the eighth the Trojans had a runner at second with two outs, but eventually ran themselves out of the inning with the base runner being cut down at third.

    Down to their last three outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Trojans mounted another rally, as Nootbaar led off the inning with a single, pitch hitter Frankie Rios (Lakewood, Calif./Long Beach Poly HS) laid down the sac bunt to put the tying run in scoring position. However, after a long fly out to left field by Armenta, the Trojans had Martinez at the plate. He battled with Fighting Hawks closer Brandon Radmacher, eventually smoking one on the ground, but right at the third baseman who was able to keep it in front of him and throw Martinez out at first to end the rally and the game.

    Fighting Hawks starter Brett DeGagne’ earned the win, going 5.1, while reliever Radmacher got his first save of the year.

    The Trojans will be back in action in game three of the series on Sunday at 1 p.m. PT at Dedeaux Field.