USC one win away from last Pac-12 baseball title, trip to NCAA Regionals

The game between the No. 4 seed USC Trojans and the top-seeded Arizona Wildcats in Scottsdale, Arizona, will determine the 2024 Pac-12 Baseball Tournament champion. While Arizona is guaranteed an at-large bid even if it loses, the Trojans must win to secure the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA regionals. Despite a strong second half of the season, USC’s slow start has left it without an at-large bid as an option.

Arizona advanced to the championship game by defeating Stanford in the semifinals. Caden Aoki, a right-handed pitcher for USC, is expected to face off against Cam Wally, Arizona’s right-handed pitcher. Aoki has a 2-3 record with a 4.24 ERA, while Wally is 8-1 with a 2.76 ERA.

In the tournament opener against Utah, the Trojans’ Aoki took the mound as the starting pitcher and effortlessly sailed through the first two innings without allowing any runs. However, he exited the game after surrendering two runs in both the 3rd and 4th innings on five hits. After the slow start, the Trojans rallied to overcome a 4-1 deficit and beat the Utes 6-5.

Freshman outfielder Brayden Dowd has become a clutch hitter for the Trojans this season. He has turned it up a notch in postseason play. In 42 games, he has a batting average of .319, has driven in 25 runs, and has scored 26 runs. He played a critical role in USC’s victory against Utah, delivering an RBI double in the eighth inning. In the Trojans’ win in the semifinals against Cal, he contributed to four of USC’s seven runs, including a three-run homer which turned the game around. USC trailed 2-0 before Dowd’s big blast.

The USC-Arizona Pac-12 title game, to be aired live on ESPNU, will be called by Roxy Bernstein and Wes Clements at 7 p.m. Pacific time.

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Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire