No. 12 USC gets back on track against Oregon

No. 12 USC gets back on track against Oregon
USC freshman Mitch Hart throws a warm-up pitch during a game against UCLA on April 12. (Shotgun Spratling / Los Angeles Times)

Last weekend, USC freshman pitcher Mitch Hart took his first college loss, giving up five runs in 5 2/3 innings and the Trojans took their first series loss of the season.

Hart bounced back in a big way on Sunday at Dedeaux Field. The right-hander gave up just three hits and one run in six innings to lead No. 12 USC to a 7-3 win and a series victory over Oregon.


In last week's loss to then-No. 6 UCLA, Hart got in trouble in the sixth inning, giving up two doubles, a sacrifice fly and a home run. Against Oregon, he again ran into a sixth-inning jam when Nick Catalano led off with a double and Mitchell Tolman was hit by a pitch. A sacrifice bunt put two runners in scoring position, but Hart got his seventh and eighth striekouts of the day to complete his outing with USC (29-10) holding a 4-1 lead.

Hart's six solid innings earned him his sixth win of the season.

"He's been fantastic all year," USC Coach Dan Hubbs said. "The most encouraging thing is this is the best he's pitched in probably four weeks."

The Ducks (23-18, 5-10) were able to get two runs in the seventh inning, but USC responded with a pair in the bottom half of the inning and added an extra insurance run in the eighth inning.

Hart's outing didn't start as well as it ended. Jakob Goldfarb ambushed him on the first pitch of the game, hitting a solo home run. The Ducks managed just one hit off Hart the next five innings.

The Trojan hitters picked up their pitcher, scoring two runs in the first inning on a Dante Flores single. They added single runs in the second and fourth innings on a pair of sacrifice flies by Garrett Stubbs. His second RBI came after Bobby Stahel tripled to right-center field to extend his hitting streak to 21 games.

Flores and Stahel both had multiple-hit performances while Stubbs finished with the curious line of 0 for 0 with two runs and two RBIs. He walked three times.

Sunday was the third day in a row the Trojans fell behind early. In the series opener, Oregon scored four runs in the first inning, but USC answered with three runs in its half of the inning. USC tied the score in the fourth inning and Timmy Robinson quickly untied it later in the inning, hitting his first career grand slam.

The Trojans had another five-run inning in the seventh and cruised to a 13-5 win. Robinson had five RBIs while Blake Lacey drove in three runs.

Saturday's early deficit proved too much to overcome with Oregon scoring seven runs in the second inning en route to a 15-4 win. Ten different Ducks knocked in runs in the game.

With the series win, USC remains in third place in the Pac-12 standings with a 10-5 mark. It is currently 2 1/2 games behind conference-leading UCLA. The Trojans have the week off before traveling to defending Pac-12 champion Oregon State to begin a series starting Friday evening at 5:30 p.m. PDT.