LOS ANGELES — On its list of preseason All-American, Baseball America listed Oklahoma lefty starter Dillon Overton as a third team member. A young, hungry USC team didn’t care on Friday night at Dedeaux Field.
Playing through a steady drizzle until the late innings, the Trojans (7-6) smacked Overton around for 13 hits and five runs in a 5-3 victory to open the Dodgertown Classic.
Oklahoma scored three runs in the fourth and fifth innings to take a 3-1 lead, but USC scraped together a run in the fifth inning and then used four consecutive hits to put together a two-out rally in its next at bat. Senior Adam Landecker’s single scored a pair of runs that put the Trojans up 4-3.
Landecker, returning from a hamstring injury that caused him to miss the last week of action, provided the final score of the game with his third run-scoring hit and fourth RBI on an eighth inning single to score Greg Zebrack.
The Game Changer:
USC had knocked some hits against Overton through the first five innings, but the Sooners held a 3-2 lead. The Trojans had been unable to get the big hit with runners on base. That changed in the sixth inning when Landecker put the Trojans ahead with a two-run single.
But the inning started inconspicuously. Blake Lacey and Vahn Bozoian quickly were retired on a pair of groundouts to the shortstop. Despite Overton having only thrown four pitches in the inning, Garrett Stubbs swung at the first offering and managed to chop one up the middle just out of the reach of second baseman Hector Lorenzana. On the very next pitch, Timmy Robinson followed with a line drive base hit to left field. With two on, Zebrack was more patient…waiting one pitch before hitting a hard grounder. Shortstop Jack Mayfield slid on his knees and knocked it down but couldn’t corral the ball, giving Zebrack an infield single.
Landecker saw a few pitches as Overton fell behind 2-1. On the 12th pitch of the inning (to the sixth different batter), Landecker knocked one through the 5-6 hole. Stubbs scored easily while Robinson slid in before the tag to give USC a 4-3 lead it would not relinquish.
Best Defensive Play: USC got to Overton in the fifth inning for a run to make it 3-2, using a three singles and a sacrifice bunt, but the Trojans were too aggressive trying to tie the score. With runners on second and third, AJ Ramirez hit a fly ball to right field. James Roberts waited to take off from third base. Max White caught the ball at average playing depth close to the right field line and came up firing.
Roberts chugged down the line, but catcher Anthony Hermelyn was able to block the plate with White’s throw being perfectly on line. Hermelyn took the throw and slapped down the tag to end the Trojans’ threat…for an inning at least.
Best Pitch/Pitcher: There are people around the USC program that believe sophomore Nigel Nootbaar has the best stuff of any pitcher on the staff, including freshman Kyle Twomey, who was a fourth round pick coming out of high school last year. However, consistency has been an issue.
When Nootbaar attacks the zone with his 90-92 mph fastball that he said has been up to 94 on occasion and is able to get ahead of hitters, he can quickly rack up strikeouts with his filthy 82-84 slider. Just ask Fresno State. Nootbaar struck out 12 Bulldogs in six innings when pressed into the starting rotation last weekend due to Wyatt Strahan having shoulder stiffness.
While he only struck out one Friday night, Nootbaar ate up the Sooners in two innings of relief. Nootbaar allowed only one hit and didn’t walk a batter while recording five groundouts to record his first career save.
USC senior Adam Landecker talks about his big day at the plate. He discusses playing first base and how big getting a win against a top 20 opponent is for a young team:
Trojans head coach Dan Hubbs talks about Nigel Nootbaar’s growing confidence, Landecker’s leadership and freshman Timmy Robinson breaking free of his slump:
Nigel Nootbaar talks about being a starter/reliever swingman and what he needs to do to succeed:
- Matt Oberste - 2-for-4, R, 2B, RBI
- Anthony Hermelyn - 2-for-4, R
- Bobby Wheatley - 6.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R (1 ER), 3 BB, 3 K, Win
- Adam Landecker – 3-for-4, 2B, 4 RBI, SH
- Timmy Robinson - 2-for-4, 2 R, SB
- Nigel Nootbaar - 2 IP, H, 0 R, K, Save
The Bottom Line:
This is a great confidence booster for a young USC squad that just started a ridiculous 25-game stretch where 17 games are against teams that are currently ranked in the Baseball America Top 25. Getting back a pair of starters in Stubbs and Landecker made a huge impact. Landecker had one of the best games of his career. Stubbs reached base twice and started the two-out sixth inning rally despite being a left-handed batter facing one of the top southpaws in the country. We’ll see how well the Trojans can carry over the momentum from this win into the rest of the Dodgertown Classic where they’ll face another pair of ranked teams, including crosstown rival UCLA.
Oklahoma head coach Sunny Galloway had a very lengthy discussion with his team following the game (which is why there is no Oklahoma video). The Sooners started 10-0, but have lost three of four. What did Galloway tell his team after back-to-back losses to unranked teams the No. 17 team in the country should defeat when Oklahoma’s two remaining games in the Dodgertown Classic are against ranked foes UCLA and Notre Dame? It will be interesting to see how the team responds. If it bounces back, then I’ll be putting a star by this squad as a legit Omaha contender.
Also check out the 16-shot photo gallery from Sunday.