After two singles and a four-pitch walk, the bases were loaded with no outs. San Diego State had the go-ahead run on base and its 4-5-6 hitters coming up.
USC head coach Dan Hubbs had one of his best reliever arms, Solomon Bates, ready in the bullpen. Instead, after a brief conversation, Hubbs stuck with right-hander Bryce Dyrda, who has yet to give up a run this season, trying to close out a 2-0 victory.
"Bryce has been going really well and for whatever reason, he's had a little bit of an invisible ball," Hubbs said. "I just felt like with his velocity, it was going to be kind of the difference."
Dyrda needed to get out a trio of Aztec hitters that each entered the game hitting above. 300, including Tyler Adkison, who has been one of the hottest hitters in the country. Adkison entered hitting .537 with seven home runs and 28 RBIs in 18 games. He was coming off his second straight Mountain West Player of the Week, but Dyrda got him to hit a chopper back to the mound. Dyrda froze up a bit after gloving the ball. He began running the ball toward the plate before underhand flipping it to the catcher rather than catching the ball and firing home and trying to get a 1-2-3 double play at home and then first.
That left two outs to go, but the bases were still loaded for 6-foot-4, 240-pound power hitter Andrew Martinez and 6-foot-6 outfielder David Hensley. Dyrda pumped three 93 mph fastballs by Martinez for the second out and after running the count to 3-2, allowing the base runners a running start, he struck out Hensley with a fastball. Dyrda locked up a 2-0 win with his third save of the season and 26th strikeout in 17.1 innings.
USC improved to 15-8 on the season, winning their second low-scoring affair against San Diego State (16-9) after besting the Aztecs 1-0 in San Diego earlier this season.
"It's kind of your classic Tuesday that no one was going to come and hit. Kind of the same way down there," Hubbs said before praising starter Mason Perryman's five scoreless innings, Connor Lunn's two perfect frames. "Then Bryce, he got in a little bit of trouble in the ninth, but did a hell of a job working out of it. We'll take it."
The Trojans took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when freshman outfielder Matthew Acosta hit his first career home run off the scoreboard in right field. They added an insurance run in the eighth inning when Corey Dempster stung a pitch back up the middle past a drawn in infield to score pinch runner Christian Moya.
Perryman was credited with his second win of the season and lowered his ERA to 0.93 while Lars Nootbaar had three hits to lead the offense.
Despite being picked to finish next to last in the Pac-12 this eason, USC is off to a 4-2 start in conference play, but have back-to-back tough weekends at No. 13 Arizona and against No. 11 Stanford. Hubbs remains confident his young Trojan squad will continue to improve as the season progresses.
"I'm happy with where we're at right now. I think that I keep saying that I think we're going to be better later."
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