The Utes struck out 17 times as a team and couldn’t muster a single hit for eighth consecutive innings, but somehow Utah (11-19, 2-11) was able to pull out a 3-2 victory over USC (15-17, 4-9) to open the series at Dedeaux Field Friday night.
TJ Bennett led off the 13th inning with a single up the middle to break a streak of 32 Utah batters that had stepped in the batter’s box and exited without a hit. A sacrifice bunt and ground ball moved Bennett to third and despite a valiant jump-throw effort deep in the hole by USC shortstop Frankie Rios, Konnor Armijo scored him with a two-out infield single.
Utah head coach Bill Kinneberg talks about the effort of his pitchers and the win. He also talks about how life in the Pac-12 has been different the last three years since Utah left the Mountain West:
The Utes took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning thanks to a strikeout wild pitch by Wyatt Strahan that bounced over the backstop. Cory Hunt followed with a deep drive down the right field line that went for an RBI triple when AJ Ramirez couldn’t make a diving catch. A sacrifice fly scored Hunt.
USC answered with a Jeremy Martinez RBI single in the bottom half of the inning. The Trojans tied the game in the eighth inning with perfect manufacturing. Blake Lacey hit a ball sharply through the left side and dove into second headfirst with a hustle double. Pinch runner Reggie Southall then moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and came in to score on an Omar Cotto sacrifice fly.
The Trojans had opportunities. They got a runner in scoring position in the 10th, 12th and 13th innings, but couldn’t get the clutch hit. Head coach Dan Hubbs talks about the loss and the Trojans inability to get a big hit when they needed it the most:
All five pitchers used in the game pitched well. Starters Mitch Watrous and Wyatt Strahan combined for 19 strikeouts and only six hits in 15 innings, though both took no decisions. Strahan set a career-high with 11 strikeouts, his first double-digit K performance. Utah reliever Nick Green picked up the win with five scoreless innings of relief (4 H, 2 BB, 4 K).
Check out CBD photographer Shotgun Spratling’s top shots from Friday night: