USC needs extra effort to win series at Washington

USC needs extra effort to win series at Washington
USC senior outfielder Bobby Stahel hit his first career home run in the 10th inning Sunday to help the Trojans beat Washington, 4-3. (Shotgun Spratling / Los Angeles Times)

The USC Trojans baseball team needed to play nearly four games to take a three-game series at Washington. After losing the opener Friday, the No. 9 ranked Trojans (22-6, 4-2) needed eight extra innings to win a pair of one-run games the following two days.

In the rubber match on Sunday, USC senior leadoff hitter Bobby Stahel hit his first career home run in the 10th inning to give the Trojans a 4-3 victory and the series win. Washington (15-12, 2-7) jumped out to an early lead on a Braden Bishop run-scoring triple in the first inning. After USC took a 2-1 lead on a solo home run from Mercer Island, Wash., native David Oppenheim, Bishop continued to be a thorn for the Trojans, evening the score with an RBI double.

The Huskies regained the lead in the sixth inning only for USC to answer in the eighth. Timmy Robinson picked up his second RBI of the day on a dribbler to third base on which Garrett Stubbs scored.

Washington put two runners on in the ninth inning, but couldn't get one across, sending the game into extra innings where Stahel crushed an 0-1 pitch over the left-field fence. The Huskies again got a runner in scoring position in the bottom half of the inning, but were unable to get the clutch hit they needed. Instead, USC reliever Alex Chavarria picked up his second save in as many days to give the Trojans the series.

On Saturday, Chavarria had to wait around for 15 innings before he got the chance for a save. The two teams could not score through the first 15 innings.

Washington starter Tyler Davis struck out six and gave up four hits in 8 1/3 innings and Troy Rallings followed with 6 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up just three hits. USC's left-handed trio of Kyle Twomey, Tyler Gilbert and Marc Huberman also fired 15 scoreless innings. Twomey surrendered just four hits in seven innings but did walk seven batters. However, he routinely escaped unscathed by getting 10 groundball outs.

In the 16th inning, Stahel started the Trojans rally with a single up the middle. Following a walk, Corey Dempster feigned a bunt to draw the infielders in, pulled back his bat and slapped a single through the left side to end the scoring drought. Robinson added a couple of insurance runs with a two-run single.

Those proved critical. In the bottom half of the inning, Bishop hit a two-run homer off Huberman, prompting USC Coach Dan Hubbs to turn to Chavarria. The redshirt freshman from Indio High ended the game with a strikeout.

The Huskies took the opener, 5-1, behind a three-hit performance from shortstop Chris Baker. Baker's big blow came in the sixth inning when he blasted a three-run home run to left field that chased USC starter Brent Wheatley, who gave up four earned runs in 5 1/3 innings after he missed his last start because of back spasms.

USC will next play a hot Arizona (22-6, 7-2) squad on the road on Thurday to open a three-game series. Washington travels to Stanford for its next series.