FAYETTEVILLE Southern Cal coach Dan Hubbs brought his team to Baum Stadium this weekend hoping to find an atmosphere that could prepare the Trojans for a possible NCAA regional later this year.
Arkansas fans delivered a regional-like attendance of 10,732 Saturday, but left unhappy after a 3-1 USC win over the No. 6 Razorbacks that tied the three-game series. The teams are scheduled to play the rubber match Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
USC left-hander Quentin Longrie pitched 7 1/3 innings and did not allow a run until Eric Cole's leadoff home run in the eighth inning that pulled Arkansas within 2-1.
Longrie scattered 8 hits and 3 walks, and struck out 4 to record his second win of the season. The junior entered the game with an 8.00 ERA.
"The big thing for me with Longrie was that he didn't beat himself today," Hubbs said. "The first couple of outings he had seven walks in nine innings, and today he only walked three in 7 1/3. That was key because he does have stuff and it runs his fastball up to 93, and can throw a changeup and a breaking ball. He just didn't make an inning continue by putting another guy on base. He forced them to make contact and he made pitches when he had to."
Longrie pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth inning when Arkansas second baseman Carson Shaddy grounded out on a 3-2 pitch back to the mound. He also worked around a leadoff single by Jax Biggers in the first and a leadoff double by Heston Kjerstad in the sixth.
"He got into a couple of jams and was able to pitch out of them," Hubbs said. "The big spot, obviously, was when he got Shaddy to bounce back to him with the bases loaded. We had just walked the guy before on a 3-2, and he made a pitch. He did that a couple of times tonight and he did a really good job of throwing all three of his pitches and moving the ball around. It looked like he had some late life to the fastball and kept them off-balance."
The Razorbacks (8-3) out-hit the Trojans 9-5, but stranded nine runners. Arkansas' 5 through 9 hitters were a combined 2-for-17 with 3 walks Saturday.
"The lefty kept us off-balance and I don't think we did a very good job with him," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "I don't think we did a very good job when we were ahead in the counts of getting hitters-type pitches; some weak outs there when we had hitters-type counts.
"We haven't swung the bats very well once we got past the four-hole. From five-on it hasn't been very good the last couple of days."
Longrie and Arkansas starter Isaiah Campbell were engaged in a scoreless pitcher's duel through five innings, but the game turned when the Trojans recorded consecutive singles and drew a walk against Campbell with one out in the top of the sixth.
That chased Campbell, who suffered his first loss with a 5 1/3-inning outing that included 3 hits, 3 walks and 2 strikeouts.
"He got out of two or three jams and they got his pitch count going up there a little bit, and then it just looked like he ran out of gas," Van Horn said.
USC (8-2) took a 1-0 lead on Matthew Acosta's bases-loaded RBI single to left field. The Trojans tried to score a second run on the hit, but Kjerstad gunned down Blake Sabol at home plate.
Acosta's RBI snapped an Arkansas streak of 23 2/3 innings without allowing a run.
"It gave us a breather," Hubbs said. "We couldn't do anything against Campbell for five innings, and then we get a couple of guys on and we were able to get a big hit. That was nice."
USC extended its lead to 2-0 in the seventh when Brandon Perez doubled with one out, advanced on a Matt Cronin wild pitch and scored on a Brady Shockey sac fly to left field. The Trojans tacked on a run in the ninth when Acosta scored following a leadoff walk.
Longrie faced only one batter following Cole's home run. Luke Bonfield doubled on the second pitch by reliever Brad Wegman and Arkansas nearly took the lead when the wind pushed Grant Koch's long drive to left field foul. Koch struck out looking in the inning, as did Dominic Fletcher after a Jared Gates two-out walk.
USC closer Connor Lunn recorded his fifth save by retiring all three batters he faced in the ninth.
Arkansas sold 13,472 tickets to Saturday’s game, which is a record at the 23-year-old Baum Stadium. The previous tickets-sold record was 12,589 for a 2015 game against Mississippi State that was played on the same day as the Razorbacks’ spring football game. … Saturday’s actual attendance of 10,732 was the 10th-largest all-time at Baum and second-largest for a regular-season nonconference game, behind a 2009 midweek game against then-No. 1 Arizona State. … Saturday’s loss was Arkansas’ first this season at home. The Razorbacks outscored their opponents 79-7 in the first six games at Baum. … Arkansas and USC are scheduled to play on Feb. 22-24, 2019, in Los Angeles, according to a signed game contract.