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USC Pulls Off a Super Finish

Hart's infield single in the 10th caps Trojan rally in a 9-8 victory over Oregon State.

June 13, 2005|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

CORVALLIS, Ore. — This was the sturdy pair of coveralls and industrial-strength hose USC needed to clean up the mess it had made in its NCAA baseball super-regional opener.

Six outs from a season-ending defeat, the Trojans rallied with two runs in the eighth inning and three in the ninth before Billy Hart's bases-loaded infield single in the 10th brought home the winning run for a 9-8 victory over Oregon State on Saturday night in Goss Stadium.

The Trojans (41-21) and the Beavers (45-10) will play in a deciding Game 3 today at 1 p.m., with the winner advancing to the College World Series.

Roberto Lopez was hit by a pitch leading off the bottom of the 10th, and pinch-runner Dale Legaspi went to second on Blake Sharpe's single up the middle. Matt Cusick failed to advance the runners when he struck out on a bunt attempt, but Jeff Clement was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Hart then singled to shortstop against reliever Eddie Kunz to send the Trojans pouring out of their dugout in celebration.

"That really says something about our team, being down by five runs with six outs left and staying with it," said Clement, who hit a leadoff homer in the ninth. "We've got one more to get."

Oregon State appeared well on its way to its first trip to Omaha since 1952 when it took an 8-3 lead into the bottom of the eighth.

But Cyle Hankerd hit a leadoff double and scored when shortstop Darwin Barney fielded a grounder off the bat of Baron Frost and threw past third baseman Shea McFeely.

Frost scored on a sacrifice fly to make it 8-5.

Clement hit the first pitch of the ninth for a homer to right. Hart had a bunt single up the third-base line and went to third when right fielder Danny Anderson dropped Hankerd's deep fly ball for Oregon State's fourth error.

"We tried to pass the virus on to them," said Coach Mike Gillespie, whose Trojans made eight errors Saturday. "We know how they feel."

Frost pulled USC to within 8-7 with a run-scoring groundout and Hector Estrella drove in the tying run with a single to left.

Oregon State, which had homered only 34 times in 53 regular-season games, capitalized on a rare power surge, hitting three homers to take its 8-3 lead.

"We didn't compete at all at the plate after we took the 8-3 lead," Coach Pat Casey said.

No. 9 hitter Ryan Gipson hit his first homer of the season, a two-run shot in the fourth inning against starter Jack Spradlin, and Anderson hit a homer in the fifth to give the Beavers a 3-0 lead.

Then, after the Trojans had closed to within 5-3 in the sixth inning, Mitch Canham hit a three-run homer in the seventh to seemingly put the game out of reach.

The Trojans scored their first two runs in the fifth after benefiting from two Beaver miscues.

USC had runners on first and third with one out when Cusick grounded into a potentially inning-ending double play. Oregon State got one out at second, but first baseman Andy Jenkins couldn't corral shortstop Barney's low throw, allowing a run to score and Cusick to reach safely.

Cusick went to second on Clement's single up the middle and scored to pull the Trojans within 3-2 when second baseman Gipson dropped Hart's popup in the infield.

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