Ninth Inning Rally Falls Short In USC's 5-4 Loss At Oregon State

May 20, 2005

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Closer Kevin Gunderson struck out Cyle Hankerd as the No. 3/5 Oregon State Beavers held on for a 5-4 win against the No. 21/20 USC Trojans in Pac-10 Conference play. USC had the tying run at second as part of a four-run rally in the ninth after Oregon State scored five runs in the eighth.

The game started as advertised with a pitchers' duel between USC's Ian Kennedy (10-2) and OSU's Dallas Buck (11-1) with both throwing seven scoreless innings into the eighth. Both players are among 10 semifinalists for the 2005 Roger Clemens Award and the leading candidates for Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year.

Oregon State is now 40-8 overall and maintains first place with an 18-4 record over second-place Arizona (14-4 record before tonight's game at Stanford). USC falls to 33-17 on the season and stays in third place with a 12-7 mark. A crowd of 2,165, the highest attendance since the 1999 renovation of Goss Stadium at Coleman Field, witnessed a wild finish.

Geoff Wagner led off the eighth with a lead off walk against Kennedy. Mike Lissman then attempted to sacrifice pinch runner Lonnie Lechelt to second. Kennedy came off the mound to get the bunt, but slipped onto his hindquarters. Despite the awkward position, he twirled and fired a strike to shortstop Blake Sharpe for the first out. After a 3-0 count to Jacoby Ellsbury, the Trojans intentionally walked him for left fielder Tyler Graham. Graham then hit a line drive off Kennedy's right ankle for an infield single to load the bases. On an 0-1 count, shortstop Darwin Barney blooped a two-run single to right for a 2-0 lead. First baseman Andy Jenkins followed with a three-run blast to left for the 5-0 margin, knocking Kennedy out of the game.

Kennedy tied a season-high by allowing five runs on seven hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.

Buck, who allowed just one hit going into the ninth, walked Hector Estrella in the ninth. The reigning Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week was attempting his second straight complete game shutout then struck out Zack Kalter before allowing a full count single to freshman Matt Cusick to put runners at the corners. In a heads-up play before time was called, Cusick stole second. Buck struck out junior catcher Jeff Clement for the second out, but walked Lucas Duda as Oregon State went to its bullpen. Gunderson once again got the Trojans down to their final strike, but Billy Hart on a 1-2 pitch drilled a three-run homer to left, silencing the OSU fans. Pinch hitter Baron Frost then doubled to right to put the tying run at second before Hankerd struck out to end the game.

Buck was charged for three runs on just two hits in 8 2/3 innings with three walks and seven strikeouts.

The series continues tomorrow with a 1 p.m. start and concludes on Sunday (May 22) at noon. Both games will be broadcast live, along with Gametracker live stats, on usctrojans.com.

USC	000-000-004---4-4-0OSU	000-000-05x---5-7-0

WP-Buck (11-1) LP-Kennedy (10-2) S-Gunderson (12)T: 2:33 ATT: 2,165Records: USC (33-17, 12-7), OSU (40-8, 18-4)

Kennedy, Koss (8) and Clement.Buck, Gunderson (9) and Canham.

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