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USC baseball sweeps No. 25 Arizona in Tucson

USC baseball sweeps road series at nationally ranked Arizona

The final question about the USC baseball team may have been answered this weekend. The Trojans went on the road to Tucson and swept a three-game series against nationally ranked Arizona.

After leaving the friendly confines of Dedeaux Field the last two weekends and getting series wins against a pair of unranked opponents, USC traveled to Hi-Corbett Field to face off against No. 25 Arizona and its supercharged offense. The Wildcats (22-9, 7-5) led the nation with a .332 batting average entering the weekend.

The Trojans proved they are capable of knocking the ball around the ballpark as well as anyone in the nation, out-hitting the Wildcats 41-30 for the series.

But it was one of the weakest hits of the entire weekend that secured the sweep for the Trojans on Saturday. After falling behind 5-1 early, they brought 11 men to the plate in the fourth inning, scoring seven runs to take the lead. The teams traded runs before Arizona scrapped its way back with two runs in the seventh and another in the eighth inning to tie the score.

Timmy Robinson led off the ninth inning with an eight-pitch walk and advanced to third on a sacrifice and a groundout. With two outs, David Oppenheim hit a dribbler that Arizona's preseason All-American shortstop, Kevin Newman, unsuccessfully tried to bare-hand. Oppenheim reached with an infield single and Robinson scored the go-ahead run.

The Wildcats didn't go quietly, putting runners on the corners before left-hander Marc Huberman was able to get a popup to end the game and seal the sweep.

Saturday's seven-run inning was the Trojans' second of the weekend. On Friday, they staked Kyle Twomey to a big lead with seven runs in the first inning and rode that cushion to a 13-6 win to clinch the series. Twomey allowed two runs in five innings to earn his fifth win of the season. Reggie Southall went three for four and drove in four runs at the bottom of the lineup, while Bobby Stahel propelled the offense from the leadoff spot with four hits and three runs. Stahel sizzled throughout the series, going nine for 14 with five RBIs and six runs scored.

In the series opener, Brent Wheatley and Brooks Kriske shut down the Arizona offense, holding it to just four hits. Wheatley was effectively wild, walking eight and throwing three wild pitches in 5 2/3 innings. But he made his biggest pitches when he needed them the most, continuing to pitch out of jams.

Following a clean 1-2-3 first inning, Wheatley stranded two runners in each of the next three innings and another in the fifth inning. Arizona loaded the bases in the sixth inning, but Kriske got Newman, a first-round draft prospect, to fly out to end the inning.

The Trojans carried the momentum from escaping the jam into their subsequent at-bat. The first five batters reached with Dante Flores scoring a run after tripling home the go-ahead score. USC added another insurance run when Stahel beat out a potential inning-ending double play.

Kriske took care of the rest, allowing only an infield single and a double in 3 1/3 innings to pick up the win. The Wildcats left 11 men on base with the infield single being their only base hit with runners in scoring position in 12 at-bats.

The No. 9 Trojans improved to 25-6 on the season and 7-2 in conference, setting up a classic crosstown showdown next weekend against UCLA. The No. 7 Bruins (23-6) will come to Dedeaux Field sitting in first place in the Pac-12 at 10-2, making the series a potential battle for first place.

First, USC will play host to No. 12 UC Santa Barbara, who handed the Trojans their first loss of the season last month, on Tuesday at 6 p.m. 

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