Comeback Effort Falls Just Short at USC in 4-2 Series Finale
LOS ANGELES – Utah had runners in scoring position in the ninth inning and the go-ahead run at the plate, but in the end USC held on for a 4-2 final score on Sunday at Dedeaux Field.
Six different Utes had a hit in the game, which included a solo home run for third baseman Chase Anderson. Right fielder Kai Roberts also added an RBI in the top of the seventh inning for Utah (23-15-1, 9-9 Pac-12).
Left fielder TJ Clarkson, hitting three-hole, singled to reach base safely for the 37th straight game. It is the second-longest active streak in the Pac-12 Conference.
After the first four innings flew by, USC broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth, although none of the Trojans' three runs were earned. Garret Guillemette hit a grounder to begin the inning, but the throw was high and allowed Guillemette to take second base. Nick Lopez then knocked in Guillemette with a single to left field. Two batters later, a second miscue allowed the Trojans to add another run by Lopez. Rhylan Thomas later singled to drive in the third run of the inning for the home club.
Anderson was quick to get one back for the Utes, leading off the sixth inning with a solo homer over the fence in left-center field. It was Anderson's sixth big fly of the season to cut the deficit to 3-1.
In the seventh Utah came back within a run at 3-2. Center fielder Dakota Duffalo opened the frame with a walk, moved up 90 feet on a groundout and took third on a passed ball. With a runner on first, Roberts stepped into the box and hit a grounder to second base, hustling down the line and beating out a would-be double play ball to bring in Duffalo.
Still needing the equalizer, Anderson got aboard to begin the eighth inning, striking out but taking first base on a dropped third strike followed by an errant throw. A wild pitch and ground ball got Anderson as far as third base, but he was stranded there at the end of the inning. In the bottom half of the inning, D'Andre Smith hit a solo home run to put the Trojans ahead by a 4-2 score.
Utah refused to go down quietly though, and sent six men to bat in its final turn. Catcher Britt Graham hit a pop up with one out and was able to take second base when the ball was dropped in the infield. After shortstop Matt Richardson worked a walk, a wild pitch moved the pair to second and third. Second baseman Landon Frei hit a fly ball down the left field line, but USC left fielder Trevor Halsema made a diving catch to end the threat and close out the ballgame.
Cam Day got the Sunday start for Utah and pitched 5.1 innings, striking out four and allowing five hits. Day did not allow an earned run, but was on the mound for USC's three tallies in the fifth and was on the hook for the tough luck loss (1-4).
It's a quick four-game home stand on deck for the Utes, as the squad turns its focus to a Tuesday, April 26 game vs. Dixie State at Smith's Ballpark. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. MT in Salt Lake City.
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