USC had stayed within striking distance of No. 20 Mississippi State throughout Saturday's matchup at Dedeaux Field. The No. 22 Trojans had a golden opportunity to finally even things back up in their final at-bat. Trailing 8-6, they put two runners in scoring position against freshman left-hander Kale Breaux with one out.
Breaux fired a pitch past the catcher, bringing in pinch runner Brandon Perez and moving the tying run just 90 feet away.
But Breaux buckled down, striking out USC leadoff hitter Lars Nootbaar on a late-breaking slider just off the plate. Nootbaar tried to check his swing, but the umpire ruled that the pitch had caught the outside corner. Two outs.
USC's leading hitter this season, David Oppenheim, stepped to the plate. He attacked a 1-0 pitch and hit it hard back up the middle for what looked destined for a game-tying single, but Breaux snagged the hard chopper and tossed it over to first base for the game's final out, giving the Bulldogs an 8-7 victory.
The Trojans (6-4) took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Timmy Robinson doubled home Oppenheim. But as would be the case all game, Mississippi State (8-3) responded to the USC strike. It scored three runs in the second inning. Robinson put USC back ahead, 5-3, with a three-run home run in the third inning, but the Bulldogs answered with four runs of their own in the next inning. A Jeremy Martinez home run trimmed the deficit to 7-6, but Mississippi State immediately pushed its cushion back to two runs, setting the stage for the ninth inning drama.
Saturday's loss was once again a one-run loss. The Trojans have played eight one-run games and are now 4-4.
USC will try to earn a winning weekend when they play UCLA at Dodger Stadium in the weekend finale of the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic. The game is scheduled to begin at 3:00 p.m. PST, weather permitting.
Top USC Performers:
Timmy Robinson: 2-for-4, R, HR, 4 RBI
David Oppenheim: 2-for-5, 2 R, RBI
Jeremy Martinez: 1-for-2, R, HR, RBI, BB
Brad Wegman: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 2 K