Washington 9, USC 8

SEATTLE - Pierce Rankin drove in two runs with a bases loaded single and two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Huskies a come from behind 9-8 victory over the USC Trojans in the opener of a Pac-10 series at Husky Ballpark on a sunny Friday evening.

With the win the Huskies improved to 19-23 and evened their Pac-10 record at 8-8 while the Trojans dropped to 22-21 and 10-9.

The Huskies would have to keep battling back the whole game, as the Trojans scored a run in the top of the first inning and answered with a run of their own every time the Huskies got on the board.

The Huskies did not lead until their last at-bat in the eighth.

Trailing 8-7, Brendan Gardner-Young led off with a single to center and moved to second on a sacrifice by Caleb Brown. Jake Rife struck out swinging for the second out, bringing Pac-10 home run leader Kyle Conley (17) to the plate. Rather than pitching to Conley the Trojans chose to walk him intentionally and pitch to Troy Scott instead. That strategy backfired when Robert Stock (3-3) hit Scott with a pitch to load the bases. Rankin came up to bat and drilled a line single on a 1-0 pitch into left center field to score Gardner-Young and Conley and put the Huskies ahead 9-8.

USC began the scoring, taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. With one out Alex Sherrod singled and went to third on a single by Grant Green. Green then got caught stealing, but managed to avoid getting tagged out long enough for Sherrod to race home with the first run of the game.

The Trojans added three runs in the top of the third to take a 4-0 lead. Mike O'Neill led off with a single and advanced to third on a hit and run single by Sherrod. Green plated O'Neill with a sacrifice fly and then Ricky Oropesa hit a monster home run, his 11th of the season, over the right field wall against Husky starter Aaron West to make it 4-0.

The Huskies got on the board and made it 4-3 USC with three runs in the bottom of the third. They got an extra out courtesy of an error by second baseman Joe DePinto on a grounder by Brown that would have ended the inning. Instead, the error allowed David Bentrott, who got aboard on an infield single, to take second while Brown reached first safely. Jake Rife then tripled down the right field line to score Bentrott and Brown, and came into score himself when Scott grounded a single to center.

The Trojans extended their lead back to 6-3 in the top of the fourth without a base hit. Stock led off with a walk, and Billy Pinkerton battled West for 13 pitches before earning a walk. DePinto advanced the runners with a sacrifice. Stock scored on a groundout by O'Neill and Pinkerton scored on a wild pitch.

The Huskies scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth. Scott led off with his seventh homer of the season, a shot over the 365 marker in right field, to make it 6-4 USC. Then Rankin reached on an infield single, moved to second on a sacrifice, stole third, and scored on an infield single by Gardner-Young.

USC went back on top 7-5 in the top of the seventh when Green led off with a walk and scored on a triple by Anthony Vasquez.

The Huskies finally got even with the Trojans at 7 with two runs in the bottom of seventh. With two outs Scott walked and moved to third on a double by Rankin. A passed ball by Stock allowed Scott to score, and a single by Brett Wilcox plated Ranking with the tying run.

USC regained the lead at 8-7 when Joe DePinto hit a solo homer to left, his third of the season, off Andrew Kittredge (3-3) in the top of the eighth.

Kittredge got the win despite allowing the home run and a walk in one inning. He struck out two. Geoff Brown pitched a perfect ninth for his first save of the season. He struck out the dangerous Oropesa swinging, retired Vasquez on a ground out, and then got pinch hitter Garret Houts for the final out when Bentrott made a terrific over the shoulder running catch on a blooper into left center field. The teams resume the series with the middle game of the three game series at 2 p.m. at Husky Ballpark on Saturday afternoon.

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