Infielder Ricky Oropesa has come up big for the Trojans all season long, with a conference-leading 14 home runs entering play Tuesday, nine of which had come in the seventh inning or later.
The sophomore slugger did it again Tuesday. Oropesa hit a solo home run to right to lead off the bottom of the 11th inning for USC and give the Trojans the 9-8 victory over visiting New Mexico State.
USC (24-28) needed extra innings after giving up five runs in the the top of the seventh. The Trojans had taken an 8-3 lead in the bottom of the sixth when they used three errors, three singles and a wild pitch to score five runs, but starter Logan Odom wasn't effective when he came out to start the next inning.
Pitching-starved USC was forced to rely on right-hander Shuhei Fujiya (4-1) for an extended relief outing, and, remarkably, the senior threw 4 1/3 innings of scoreless ball to earn the win.
Offensively, Oropesa drove in USC's first two runs of the night on an RBI double in the first inning and the Trojans tacked on one more when Cade Kreuter scored on a sacrifice fly by Kevin Roundtree. New Mexico State's high-octane offense totaled 13 hits on the night but failed to convert key scoring chances (runner on first, no out, runners on first and second, no out) in the eighth and ninth innings.
Marquee hitter Leo Aguirre, a power-hitting first baseman hitting .395 with 11 home runs on the season, went just 1-for-6 on the night. Freshman second baseman Parker Hipp went 3-for-6 with two RBI.
Now, in a rare occasion for a midweek game, the two teams will be back at it Wednesday night, facing off at Dedeaux Field at 4 p.m. Neither team has named its starting pitcher.
Notes: In attendance Tuesday, among others, were USC athletic director Mike Garrett and baseball super-agent Scott Boras, the father of USC infielder Shane Boras. ... Wednesday's game will be the regular-season finale for New Mexico State. ... Every hitter in USC's starting nine had at least one base hit on the night.