The USC Trojans have struggled to win road games all season long, but unloaded their hot bats from unexpected places when they clinched a series sweep over LMU 5-2 on Tuesday afternoon. This victory is the first of a crucial nine-game road trip for the Trojans (14-22, 6-9), who are beginning to slide out of contention in the rugged Pac-12 conference.
Feb 24, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Plaque honoring Southern California Trojans former coach Rod Deadeaux (not pictured) at Dedeaux Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports
Freshmen Kyle Twomey came back to the bump after allowing 5 ER on Sunday to finish off the Lions, starting the eight-game road trip with some pop on the mound and also at the plate.
The Trojans pitching staff has struggled for the season, posting the Pac-12 worst ERA through the first two months of the season (4.78) and now must depart from the pitcher-friendly confines of Rod Dedeaux Field.
Junior catcher Jake Hernandez drove a two-strike pitch over the left field wall, just to the right of the 37-foot-blue wall at Paige Stadium, giving the Trojans their first lead in the contest.
Freshmen outfielder Vahn Bozoian got a rare start for the Trojans, after only playing in one of three against ASU last weekend but certainly made his presence felt. Bozoian belted a first-pitch fastball nearly 400 feet to left center, cementing the Trojans victory.
The Trojans scored five runs on 15 hits in the Tuesday afternoon affair. This effort propels the club forward for their weekend tilt in cold Utah. The Utes (15-17, 4-11) have struggled to get going in conference play with crippling problems across the board.
The offense has plenty of pop in the lineup, with 13 homeruns on the season, but that can not overcome a sluggish .240 team batting average on the year. This Utah squad has been compared to USC in the fact that neither is supremely talented, both but play hard and have shown flashes of greatness.
After three games against the Pac-12 dwellers, the Trojans stay up north and prepare for a series against a top-ten foe in Oregon State. The Beavers are 10-2 in conference and have the pitching depth to match any team in the nation with a team-ERA of 1.87, including two starters at the top of the rotation in Matt Boyd and Andrew Moore who have a combined record of 14-2.
Luckily for the Trojans, the bats are starting to come alive after posting double-digit hits in five of the last six games. This young team has some pop, with Timmy Robinson and Blake Lacey riding eight and seven game hitting streaks respectively; and will need to carry those hot bats on the long road trip.
The biggest challenge for USC on this road trip will be finishing series strong, a facet of their game that has allowed this young squad, with 16 true freshmen, to drop crucial Sunday affairs on the road. The Trojans have yet to win a Sunday road game this season, a recipe for disaster given the nation’s most difficult schedule according to BPI.
Following the three-game tilt in Corvallis, the Trojans return to California to face West Coast Conference foe Pepperdine (20-15, 8-4). The Waves crushed USC 9-4 in their first meeting on March 12th as the Trojans allowed 6 runs in the final four innings. Freshmen Blake Lacey had the quite game, going 2-4 while scoring half of the teams runs.
This next stretch of games will ultimately decide the Trojans postseason fate to enter the discussion for regional play. The Trojans return home to Dedeaux Field on May 2nd to square with Texas Christian University in a three-game series.