The Trojans had two runners on base with a scoreless tie and one out in the sixth inning when Timmy Robinson hit a warning-track drive. Battling the sun, Cavaliers right fielder Joe McCarthy appeared to lose the ball but it struck the heel of his glove and popped in the air, giving him enough time to snow-cone it and flip it up again. Then he smothered it against his body for a catch.
Dante Flores grounded out to Virginia starter Connor Jones to end the threat.
"That play was a big moment," Virginia Coach Brian O'Connor said. "If he's unable to snag that ball, it certainly changes the complexion of the ball game."
It spoiled a strong start for USC junior Kyle Davis, who had a no-hit bid through six innings, but once Virginia got its first hit in the seventh inning, the Cavaliers capitalized on each Trojans mistake and ended up with six runs, including three unearned, over the final three innings.
"We made a couple too many mistakes to give them opportunities and they made the most of it," USC Coach Dan Hubbs said. "Plays that I think we can make and should make we didn't."
Jones, who gave up one run and five hits in 7 2/3 innings, picked up the win for Virginia.
USC faces an elimination game at 3 p.m. Saturday against top-seeded UC Santa Barbara, which was upset by San Diego State, 4-3.
After the game, Hubbs said a lawsuit filed Thursday against left-handed pitcher Marc Huberman and former players Vahn Bozoian and Sean Adler was not a distraction, calling the situation "ancient history."
"We've moved on," Hubbs said.
The three athletes are being sued by a woman who alleged that in 2013 the players publicly distributed, without her knowledge, a video of her having sex with her then-boyfriend, Bozoian.
A USC athletic department official declined to comment. A person familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak publicly about it said Huberman was cleared by a school judicial panel that investigated the matter.