With the pressure of a big rubber match and potentially USC’s at-large bid hopes on the line, starting pitcher Stephen Tarpley was understandably nervous. The freshman was sweating and had trouble getting a firm grip on the ball. He allowed a pair of doubles to deep left-centerfield to the first two hitters of the game and both runners came around to score an early two runs for Oregon State.
But after getting the rosin bag brought to the mound, Tarpley settled in.
The southpaw battled for 7 1/3 innings (six hits, one walk, five strikeouts and just the two first inning runs) to help the Trojans (22-17, 7-10) get a crucial series win with a 6-2 victory over Oregon State (28-14, 8-10) Sunday afternoon at Dedeaux Field.
USC got four runs in the second inning, which Tarpley said was a huge relief, highlighted by a two-run single by Adam Landecker on a ball that bounced up the middle. It was cut off by second baseman John Tommasini, but Tommasini’s legs were cut out from underneath him by shortstop Tyler Smith, who was trying to slide clear of Tommasini.
The Trojans added a fifth run in the third inning with three consecutive singles before a double play line out ended the inning. Oregon State starter Dan Child was removed following the inning. He allowed 10 hits — all singles that seemingly found holes and bounced through the infield.
USC tacked on an extra insurance run in the seventh inning on a squeeze bunt by Kevin Roundtree. James Roberts came in to score after lacing a double in the right-centerfield gap to lead off the inning and moving to third on a ground ball to the right side by Matt Foat.
Roundtree had three RBI on the day while Roberts finished the game with three hits as he extended his hit streak to 17 games. Foat and Landecker both had multi-hit games as well. Tommasini and Kevin Keyes both had a pair of hits for the Beavers.
Oregon State threatened in the eighth inning following Tarpley’s exit. The Beavers hit two hard singles against reliever Wyatt Strahan, but he was able to get a fly out to end the inning. Strahan allowed a single to lead off the ninth inning, but retired the next three batters to give USC the 6-2 victory.
The series win keeps USC’s postseason hopes alive. Head coach Frank Cruz said after the game that his team knew it was on “lifeline” heading into this series and especially after a loss Friday night.
Check out the 19-shot photo gallery from Sunday afternoon’s USC/Oregon State matchup below: