The USC Trojans Baseball Team has shown a wide variety of performances on the mound this season. After winning the first game over Fresno State behind the arm of Bob Wheatley, the Trojans were hit out of the ballpark to finish the series at Pete Beiden Field.
Interim Head Coach Dan Hubbs knows a thing or two about pitching, being a former pitching coach for 11 years before taking over the job here at USC. This season Hubbs has witnessed gems on the mounds, complete meltdowns by his bullpen and some stability in the rotation. The Trojans (6-5) have found ways to win games, in large part due to their pitching and clutch hitting in the final innings of ball games.
Brent and Bobby Wheatley have been the most consistent part of the Trojans’ team this season, posting 0.79 and 1.47 ERA respectively. The key for both has been throwing strikes and limiting the opposing teams walk totals. Bobby, the older brother, has faced CSF, Fresno State and Cal State Northridge.
Younger brother Brent remains a mid-week starter for the Trojans. Despite his lack of experience, Brent continues to throw his breaking ball for strikes and has limited LMU and Long Beach State to only one run this season. Brent will be taking the mound tonight versus No. 10 Cal State Fullerton, in a chance for redemption for the Trojans who fell 3-2 in the first meeting of the season.
Freshmen sensation Kyle Twomey came out the gates running, dominating the likes of Nebraska and CSUN in his first two starts. The third-round pick recorded seven strikeouts in his first start, and followed that up with a complete game victory. Twomey has a nice fastball for a left-handed pitcher, but needs to further develop his secondary pitches if we wants to dominate at the Pac-12 level.
The bullpen has picked up their game as well, led by innings-machine Nigel Nootbaar. The sophomore received a spot start on Saturday, striking out 12 Bulldogs and pitching deep into the ball game, only to receive the loss in the 5-1 defeat. Nootbaar pitched out of some huge jams this season, against CSF and LMU and has been solid in all of his performances.
The Trojans had the opportunity to give two more arms their collegiate debut this weekend in Brooks Kriske and Marc Huberman. RHP Kyle Davis (1-1, 8.22 ERA, 7.2 IP), RHP Matt Munson (1-0, 12.86 ERA, 7.0 IP) lead the way with five appearances overall. LHP Sean Adler (4 appearances, 4.1 IP, 8 SO) has also been impressive this season, averaging two strikeouts per inning of work and is next with four appearances and leads the team with two saves.
This bullpen may have struggled in the final games against Fresno State, but it continues to dominate the final innings giving the Trojans a late-ditch effort to secure victories. The Trojans have held opponents to a .246 batting average and is sixth with 80 strikeouts, and is tied for third in the conference with batters struck out looking (26).
The Trojans will begin a rather difficult home stretch with games against Cal State Fullerton, Oklahoma and Notre Dame all in the span of four days. If the Trojans want to compete, they will need some great performance all throughout the starting rotation. Guys like Kyle Davis and Sean Adler must continue to be strong out of the pen, especially against the powerful Sooner offense. The Trojans open the homestand tonight versus Cal State Fullerton starting at 6 p.m. from Dedeaux Field.