Under the lights of Angel Stadium the Dirtbags bats put together 12 hits in an 8-4 win against USC, Tuesday night.
An opportunity dreamt of by the majority of baseball players presented itself for junior right fielder Jashia Morrissey-Jakel in the top of the second inning. In a 3-1 count with two outs and bases loaded, he got a hold of one sending it into the right field bleachers of Angel Stadium.
“That was my mom’s first time ever seeing me hit a home run,” Morrissey-Jakel said. “So that was that was something big for me there.”
A memory that’ll last forever but a memento that Morrissey-Jakel signed and let the fan that retrieved it keep.
The grand slam was just the beginning of the Dirtbags offensive onslaught against the Trojans. Just an inning later the team loaded the bases again and got a clutch two-out double from junior shortstop Nick Marinconz that plated another two runs.
Junior right-hander Jake Rons threw a 99-pitch gem in his first start since a meltdown against UCLA on March 7 going 6 innings and allowing a single run on 5 hits and 2 walks.
“I remember right before the first pitch, I kind of just took a second to take it all in, looked up around saw the whole stadium,” Rons said. “That was the best mound ever.”
In his sixth and final inning, Rons had runners on first and second with one out forcing head coach Eric Valenzuela to visit the mound. After staying in the game he locked it down getting a pop-out in foul territory before punching out the last batter he faced to close out the side.
“He was totally convicted and basically told me to get my butt off the mound,” Valenzuela said. “I just walked back to the back to the dugout and he got out of that jam and that was the to me that was the magic moment of the day.”
Run support wasn’t an issue for the Dirtbags’ pitching staff with junior catcher Connor Burns the team’s batting average leader clubbing the game’s only other home run in the seventh inning to tack onto the lead and push the score to 8-1.
“Pretty special night and then like you know just keep that momentum keep turning on the other team,” Burns said. “It’s never over until the last pitch is thrown. So just adding more runs is pretty cool.”
Unwilling to quit the Trojans did well to push three runs past the Dirtbags’ bullpen in the seventh and eighth innings, before right-handed senior Ethan Clough took to the mound and put the comeback to rest.
The Dirtbags will return home to Bohl Diamond at Blair Field on May 5 against the Roadrunners, as they look to finish the last four series remaining on the Big West schedule after improving their season record to (25-17) with the victory over USC.