USC baseball

Redshirt-senior Trevor Ezell grips the bat while waiting on-deck Feb. 16 against Eastern Illinois. The Hogs traveled to southern California to face the USC Trojans and won two out of three games.

The Razorbacks traveled to California this weekend to face the University of Southern California Trojans, and won their first road series since 2017.

Last year’s team finished as runners-up in the College World Series with a record of 48-21 but did not win a single series on the road.

The Hogs jumped out to an early lead in the first game, as they attacked USC pitcher Quentin Longrie for five runs, chasing the pitcher out of the game after just three innings. They tacked on one more run in the next inning and were held scoreless for the rest of the game by the Trojans’ bullpen. But their six-run handicap proved too much for the Trojans, as they were able to hold off an attempted USC comeback, finishing the game 6-3.

Redshirt junior Cody Scroggins made his first career start in the game, pitching a career-high 3.2 innings. He allowed only one hit and struck out a career-best eight batters, allowing three earned runs. Junior Matt Cronin closed out the game with a four-out save, earning his first save of the year.

The Razorbacks tallied eight hits on Thursday, but the biggest of them all was leadoff hitter Sophomore Casey Martin’s bases-clearing double in the second inning. All eight hits for the Razorbacks came from their first six batters.

In the second game of the series, the Hogs battled back in the middle innings to secure a comeback win. The Hogs found themselves down 4-1 at the end of third inning, and put together three straight two-run innings powered by clutch extra-base hits. Jack Kenley hit a two-run triple with two outs in the fourth inning, Martin belted a two-run homer in the fifth that gave the Hogs a 5-4 lead, and true freshman Christian Franklin hit a two-run double with two outs in the sixth inning that stretched the Razorback lead to three. USC responded in the bottom of the sixth with two more runs to threaten the Hogs by bringing the score to 7-6. Kenley came through again in the ninth inning as he singled home the Hogs’ eighth and final run for added insurance, and the game finished 8-6.

Redshirt junior Isaiah Campbell started on the mound for the Razorbacks Friday, improving his record to 2-0 on the year as he threw 5.1 innings, allowing six hits and six runs, but only three of them earned. Redshirt junior Kevin Kopps relieved Campbell in the sixth inning, throwing 2.2 innings, allowing three hits and no runs. Cronin secured his second save of the season with a one-two-three ninth inning, ending the game with his only strikeout.

The Hogs lost a hard-fought nail biter in their third and final game in Southern California on Saturday. The game was a pitcher’s duel of sorts, with only three runs scored over the first six innings.

USC got out to an early lead, as true freshman starter Connor Noland gave up a home run. Arkansas equalized in the following inning with a double from Franklin, but USC grabbed the lead back the next inning, and the score stayed at 2-1 for the next four innings. The Trojans scored in the eighth and the Hogs tied it up at 3 in the ninth inning on a passed ball. In extras, the Hogs grabbed their first lead of the night on a home run by center fielder Dominic Fletcher. His late-game heroics were quickly overshadowed by USC’s CJ Stubbs as he hit a two-run walk-off homer to take the victory and avoid the sweep.

The Razorbacks return to Baum Stadium for a 14-game homestand. Their first game is at 3 p.m Wednesday against Memphis.

 

Parker Tillson is in his second year as a sports reporter for The Arkansas Traveler.

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