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Trojan Baseball Drops Series Set to UCLA

The Trojans find themselves on the wrong side of a 2-1 series defeat at the hands of the UCLA Bruins.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The USC baseball team entered the weekend hoping to add to their already impressive resume. With a series win over cross town rivals UCLA, the Trojans would have cemented themselves atop the PAC-12 standings and in the heart of the national championship conversation. Unfortunately the No. 7 Trojans weren't able to overcome a solid squad in the No. 6 Bruins.

Game 1

The Trojans weren't able to dig themselves out of an early hole after the Bruins took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. A Chris Heck RBI and a sacrifice fly out from Christoph Bono gave the visiting Bruins a 5-0 lead in the third inning.

In the bottom of the third, the Trojans finally got on the scoreboard off a Jimmy Martinez RBI single to right field. The Trojans loaded the bases but left three runners stranded. Outfielder Timmy Robinson hit into a double play, allowing one run to score but ending the Trojan's chances.

The Bruin's extended their lead in the seventh with a three run homer, their second of the game, from Bono. Trojan outfielder Bobby Stahel continued his stellar play with his second homer of the season in the bottom of the seventh. The Trojans threatened in the bottom of the ninth but were unable to overcome Bruin closer David Berg.

The Bruins went on to win the game 8-3 with star pitcher James Kaprielian going six inning, giving up two runs on five hits with six strikeouts.

Game 2

After a blowout loss, the Trojans responded emphatically in front of a sold out crowd at Dedeaux Field. Similar to UCLA in game one, the Trojans jumped out to an early first inning lead and never looked back. Senior Dante Flores came up huge with a two-out blast off the right field wall, bringing in two runs.

Bobby Stahel continued to impress, hitting a two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth inning to give the Trojans a 4-0 lead. Stahel followed his home run with an RBI single in bottom of the sixth, pushing the Trojan lead to five.

As great as the offense was for the Trojans, the pitching was even better. Junior Kyle Twomey pitched seven scoreless innings en route to his sixth win of the season. The Placenta, CA native gave up no runs on seven hits while striking out seven as well. Twomey got himself out of a jam in the fourth inning with consecutive strikeouts, leaving the bases loaded for the Bruins.

Tyler Gilbert picked up his first save of the season after pitching two scoreless innings to close the game.

Game 3

With the series tied 1-1, both teams came to play on a sunny California afternoon. The Bruins started the scoring in the top of the first, but the Trojans responded with two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. Jeremy Martinez reached second and Garret Stubbs rounded home from second after an error from UCLA shortstop Kevin Kramer. Senior Dante Flores then followed up with a line drive down center field to bring Kramer home, giving the Trojans an early 2-1 lead.

The Bruins tied things up in the third inning and exploded in the top of the sixth. Consecutive doubles from Ty Moore and Luke Persico to start the inning gave the Bruins a 3-2 lead. A sacrifice fly out from Kort Peterson saw Moore head home, however, Stahel delivered a beautiful ball to home plate. Unfortunately, catcher Garret Stubbs couldn't hold onto the ball after a vicious collision with Moore at home plate. Darrell Miller followed up with a solo home run to put the Bruins up 5-2.

The Trojans added one run in the bottom of the sixth inning, but couldn't get over the hump. The Bruins added three runs on four hits in the top of the ninth, giving them an 8-3 lead. Bruin closer David Berg picked up his eighth save of the season, retiring the side in order to end the game.

With the series loss, the Trojans (26-9, 8-4) now sit third in the PAC-12, one loss behind both Arizona State and UCLA. The Trojans will travel to Malibu to take on Pepperdine this Tuesday before the Oregon Ducks roll into Los Angeles for a pivotal series this weekend.