No. 25 Trojans Punctuate Strong Weekend with Victory Over No. 6 UCLA|
March 8, 2015
LOS ANGELES - NO. 25 USC baseball punctuated an outstanding weekend in the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic with an 8-4 all-around team victory over No. 6 UCLA in a nonconference tilt at Dodger Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
On the victory, head coach Dan Hubbs said, "This was obviously an excellent weekend for our baseball team. I've been saying it all along, it's not about who you play it's about how you play. We're a really resilient group, I think we're a relentless group and that's something we focus on. The kids want to be the best team on the field every day we play and they've been able to accomplish that over and over and over. I'm really proud of how they're playing right now. A lot of people were looking this weekend, trying to see who this team really is. Well, I think we made the statement that we're pretty good. We have a lot left to do."
The Trojans (15-1) played in front of an outstanding crowd of 14,688 and took the lead in the top of the first inning and never looked back. Eight of nine in the starting lineup had a hit in the team victory, with five having multi-hit outings.
Freshman starter Mitch Hart (Granite Bay, Calif./Granite Bay HS) had a strong outing, going 5.2 innings, scattering eight hits while allowing four runs. He also struck out four and walked just two. He was relieved by junior Tyler Gilbert (Felton, Calif./Santa Barbara City College), who collected his first save in dominant fashion, allowing no runs and only three hits in 3.1 innings of work. On the save, Gilbert stated, "I'm still trying to grasp it. Playing at Dodger Stadium was unbelievable, I'm still kind of in awe with the whole situation."
The Trojans got on the board in six of the nine innings vs. the Bruins (11-4). Timmy Robinson (Huntington Beach, Calif./Ocean View HS) delivered the first RBI of the day with a 2-out single up the middle to plate Garrett Stubbs (Del Mar, Calif./Torrey Pines HS), who reached on a fielder's choice, advanced to second on a wild pitch and took third on a productive groundout by Jeremy Martinez (Fountain Valley, Calif./Mater Dei HS).
In the second inning, AJ Ramirez (Phoenix, Ariz./Bakersfield Christian HS) lived out every kid's fantasy by hitting a towering solo-shot home run to left field in a big league ballpark to put the Trojans up 2-1.
On his home run, Ramirez exclaimed, "It was like a dream come true. As a kid growing up wanting to be a major leaguer, it was a dream come true to hit a home run on this stage."
In the top of the third, the Trojans added again to their lead with an RBI double with two out by Robinson to plate Stubbs from second after the catcher stole second. However, the talented Bruins weren't going to go down easily. The team touched up starter Hart for three runs on five hits, including a two-run home run by Christoph Bono. Ty Moore then drove in the game-tying run on a double to left center. Hart was able to strand two runners and get out of the inning without any further damage, tallying a strikeout and getting a ground out to end the inning.
The Trojans wasted no time taking back their lead, chasing starter Poteet in the fourth as Reggie Southall (Inglewood, Calif./Serra HS) singled up the middle to score Ramirez who stole second to get into scoring position.
The team then broke things open in the fifth, adding two more runs as Blake Lacey (Clovis, Calif./Clovis HS) came through with a two-RBI single against reliever Griffin Canning to make the score 6-4.
The Bruins pulled within one in the bottom of the sixth, but the Trojans added with two more in the top of the seventh as Flores missed a home run by inches, doubling off the top of the wall in right field to bring home one and then David Oppenheim (Mercer Island, Calif./College of the Canyons) got in on the action with an RBI single to punctuate the score, 8-4.
"I think it [this weekend] says that we don't fear anybody and that we're capable of beating anybody," Hubbs said. "With that being said, we also know that if we don't play well we're capable of losing to anyone as well. The state of college baseball is that you have to play well every time you go out there. Fortunately, we've been able to survive a few punches and not get knocked out."
"These guys are good players. They started to really believe that the second half of last season. We're seeing that now. They believe in themselves and they believe in each other," Hubbs exclaimed.
The Trojans are back in action on Tuesday, as they travel to UC Irvine for a 6:30 p.m. PT tilt at Anteater Ballpark.