The baseball team welcomed Wake Forest to Dedeaux Field this weekend, and the Trojans nabbed their first series win of the season to push their record above .500.The No. 21 Trojans took down the Demon Deacons 2-1 in the three-game series winning the first one 9-4 before dropping a 4-5 loss on Saturday. USC finished strong though with a 2-1 performance Sunday afternoon.The team still sat even with a 3-3 record when Sunday rolled around for the series finale. Senior Brent Wheatley took the mound, and the right-hander locked horns with Wake Forest sophomore Drew Loepprich in a pitchers duel. Wheatley turned in six strong innings of work, scattering one run, three hits and two walks throughout while striking out six batters, and the Trojans and Demon Deacons remained knotted at one run apiece through the top of the eighth inning.USC finally broke the deadlock in the bottom of the eighth. Senior outfielder David Oppenheim drew a one-out walk and redshirt junior Reggie Southall was put in as a pinch-runner. He promptly swiped second base and moved to third on a ground ball from junior catcher Jeremy Martinez, and Oppenheim scored on a wild pitch to push the Trojans in front. A clean inning from senior closer Marc Huberman sealed a 2-1 USC win and the team’s first series win of the season.Head coach Dan Hubbs praised his players’ fighting spirit when facing a pitcher who was on his game.“I was proud of them for grinding out a game,” Hubbs said. “We put up some runs over the first two days, and then we showed we could win a 2-1 game.”After a tough outing to begin his season last weekend, Wheatley said he took a simplified approach into Sunday’s start, and it paid dividends.“I had a different mentality,” he said. “I was just trying to throw hard and make good pitches.”Two games led up to Sunday’s deciding contest. Senior pitcher Kyle Davis toed the rubber for the Trojans to kick off the series on Friday, and the veteran right-hander turned in seven strong innings, however, he allowed four runs in a sloppy fifth inning. Martinez and freshman centerfielder Lars Nootbaar had big nights at the plate as the USC bats backed up their ace in a 9-4 win.“We saw the fastball a lot, and we took advantage of it,” Nootbaar said.Martinez, who smashed his first home run of the season on Friday, also tipped his hat to associate head coach Matt Curtis for preparing the offense for the Demon Deacons’ pitchers.“Give a lot of credit to coach Curtis,” Martinez said. “We had a scouting report … so I was just trying to stay inside, put a good swing, and [the ball] just happened to run right into my barrel.”Junior pitcher Bernardo Flores started game two, and like Davis the night before, fought through one tough inning but was sharp otherwise, allowing four runs across six frames of work. Flores left the game with the score knotted at four thanks to a game-tying solo shot from sophomore third baseman Adalberto Carrillo— his second of the season. Redshirt junior Joe Navilhon replaced Flores and struck out the side in order in his first inning of relief.After cruising through two innings, however, Navilhon ran into trouble in the top of the ninth. The right-hander made an errant throw to first base on a leadoff bunt attempt, and freshman first baseman Dillon Paulson dropped the throw from Carrillo on the subsequent sacrifice bunt.Senior pitcher Brooks Kriske then entered the game to try to put out the fire, but Martinez fired a low throw past Carrillo trying to pick off the runner at third, scoring the go-ahead run. The Trojans committed three errors in one inning and were unable to rally in the bottom of the ninth, dropping a 4-5 contest to set up Sunday’s deciding game.Although he was disappointed with the ninth inning fiasco, Hubbs said it shouldn’t have come down to that at all.“That’s not where the game was lost,” Hubbs said. “The game was lost when we left 14 guys on base. We had all sorts of opportunities to score a lot of runs, and we didn’t.”It is still early in the season, however, and Hubbs said his squad, carrying high expectations, just needed to settle down.“A lot of guys did some good things,” Hubbs said. “We just have to have some guys be able to relax in the moment and get it done.”Next up, the Trojans hit the road on Tuesday for a tough tilt against Long Beach State before a weekend that includes hosting Oklahoma and Mississippi State as well as the annual game against UCLA at Dodger Stadium on Sunday.
New York Knicks’ Mario Hezonja (8), right, blocks what could have been the winning shot by Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James, left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March 17, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)NEW YORK — LeBron James drove left, the No. 4 scorer in NBA history needing a basket to beat the worst team in the league.Defending him was a journeyman who hadn’t even gotten off the Knicks’ bench in a month.ADVERTISEMENT James’ shot didn’t go in. Didn’t even get to the rim.Mario Hezonja blocked James’ shot with 2.3 seconds to play, allowing New York to complete a late rally and beat the Los Angeles Lakers 124-123 on Sunday.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGolden State Warriors sign Lee to multiyear contract, bring back ChrissSPORTSCoronation night?SPORTSThirdy Ravena gets offers from Asia, Australian ball clubs“To beat a great player, sometimes you’ve got to do the unexpected and you’ve got to make big plays,” Knicks coach David Fizdale said, “because you know that they’re gearing up to make a big play.”The Lakers led by 11 with under 3 ½ minutes remaining before the Knicks charged back largely because of their defense against James. DeAndre Jordan also blocked one of his shots in the final minute, and James also missed a jumper with the Lakers clinging to a one-point lead. James finished with 33 points, eight assists and six rebounds in his return after sitting out a game, but the Knicks spoiled it with a closing 13-1 burst. James shot just 4 for 15 in the final quarter.“He just missed shots,” Hezonja said. “If you are saying that you are the reason that he is missing shots, you are an idiot.”Actually, Hezonja was one of the reasons after getting the assignment in his return to the rotation after not playing since Feb. 13, sitting out 12 straight games.Emmanuel Mudiay had 28 points and eight assists for the Knicks, who snapped an eight-game losing streak. His two free throws with 22 seconds remaining were the final points of the game.Kyle Kuzma added 18 points for the Lakers, who have lost three straight and eight of nine.ADVERTISEMENT Knicks: Fizdale said starters Dennis Smith Jr. (sore lower back) and Noah Vonleh (sprained right ankle) were day-to-day and that G Frank Ntilikina (groin) was progressing, though there’s still no timetable for his return.ON THE JOB TRAININGThough rookie Kevin Knox has shot miserably in his first season, Fizdale thought games like Sunday and then Monday against Toronto were good for the first-round pick, no matter how he shot, because they were learning experiences.“Back-to-back games, I think it’s going to be good for him. LeBron today and obviously Kawhi (Leonard) tomorrow, so welcome to the league, kid, and this is what it’s about. This is why I wanted him in this,” Fizdale said. “Take those lumps now and later on in his career no one will remember this stuff, when he now is the guy that’s beating up on the kids. So this is all good for him.”INGRAM’S INJURYLakers coach Luke Walton said he was “thrilled” for Brandon Ingram, who had thoracic outlet decompression surgery on his right arm Saturday. The forward was ruled out for the season earlier this month after he was diagnosed with deep venous thrombosis. A blood clot caused shoulder pain for Ingram, and Walton said he hadn’t been comfortable talking about Ingram’s health while he and the team were gathering information on treatment options.“I’m thrilled for him,” Walton said. “He’s a young man that has his whole future ahead of him so it was good to hear that everything was successful.”UP NEXTLakers: Visit Milwaukee on Tuesday.Knicks: Visit Toronto on Monday. Tom Brady most dominant player in AFC championship history The West will be wild, but in the end, Duke will win title James sat out Friday in Detroit on the second night of back-to-back games and had plenty of energy for his lone visit of the season to Madison Square Garden. And it appeared his Lakers would ease to the victory when James’ jumper with 3:44 to play gave them a 122-111 lead.But everything changed from there and the Knicks ended up with just their NBA-low 14th victory of the season.“We didn’t close the game out. Being the competitor that I am, it bothers me that I didn’t make enough plays down the stretch. It bothers me that I didn’t even get a shot at the hoop. Of course that stuff bothers me,” James said.“But what’s the difference between their record and our record? Two teams out of the postseason. So it’s no difference. We could have a couple of more wins than them but both teams right now are looking on the outside looking in.”James’ trip to one of his favorite arenas was his first in a long time where his team has no championship hopes, where instead of All-Star teammates, his Lakers had as many mismatched parts as the Knicks. James got the usual big cheers for an exciting play, but also the type of criticism he has rarely faced during his career.Cameras showed James sitting all the way at the end of the bench during first-half play, far from some teammates. Knicks TV analyst Walt Frazier criticized James for not publicly being more part of the team, saying James “doesn’t really care” about the perception.The Knicks made 11 of their 15 shots, and even when they missed it wasn’t because of great Lakers defense. Of their four misses, two were unsuccessful dunk attempts by Jordan.They finished 16 of 22 in the period to lead 41-30, but the Lakers outscored them 36-22 in the second to bring a 66-63 edge into halftime.TIP-INSLakers: Josh Hart returned after missing a game with right knee patellar tendinitis. Lance Stephenson missed a fifth straight game with foot/toe injuries. Phivolcs: Slim probability of Taal Volcano caldera eruption LATEST STORIES Rogue cops marked as Gamboa’s targets in his appointment as PNP chief Ginebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup title Japeth Aguilar wins 1st PBA Finals MVP award for Ginebra Will you be the first P16 Billion Powerball jackpot winner from the Philippines? 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