The Trojans battled poor defense, bad weather and time constraints from the Salt Lake Bees, and yet were able to muster out two victories over the weekend against Utah. The three-game tilt was the Trojans first-ever matchup in Utah, as part of a rugged eight-game road trip.
Sunday was full of epic highs and staggering lows in the Trojans pursuit of a series victory over the Utes, the Trojans second-straight series victory on the road. Junior Bobby Wheatley took the hill for the Trojans, leaving the game in the second inning after retiring the Utes in order.
Freshmen Kyle Twomey came out the bullpen for the second-straight appearance, allowing two runs on seven hits this week.
Twomey has now thrown four innings of relief this week, allowing three runs in his newly designated role, as he works to find more control on the bump, following consecutive wild starts on the bump.
The Trojans offense came alive in the middle innings, scoring eight runs from the third to fifth inning led by RBI hits from Blake Lacey, Kevin Swick, Timmy Robinson and Garret Stubbs. USC capitalized with some much-needed scoring, jumping out to a 10-2 lead in the rubber match of the series.
From that point forward, things started to unfold for the Trojans. It all began in the bottom of the sixth when the Utes battled around hard-throwing Nigel Nootbaar for five runs before even recording an out. That was made possible by two consecutive errors from freshmen Blake Lacey.
The Utes put together four hits in the inning, and threatened to take the lead with two runners on base with one out, in what could have been an even more horrendous inning for USC. Freshman Kyle Davis entered the ball game after watching Nootbaar and Brent Wheatley struggle to get any defensive support, therefore the freshman took matters into his own hands striking out the next two batters to end the tumultuous frame.
Davis continued to pitch well all the way to the ninth inning, when the Utes completed the eight-run comeback, as Braden Anderson blooped a game tying two-out single to center. Head Coach Dan Hubbs remained confident in his freshman bringing him in for the final inning of play.
This was made possible because the Trojans scored five runs in the 10th, led by a two-rbi double from Timmy Robinson who finished the day 3-6 with 5 RBI, while pushing his hit streak to 13 games. The Trojans knocked together 22 hits in the contest, and secured the victory as Kyle Davis sealed the deal in the ninth for the 15-10 thrilling victory.
The Trojans finished the game 8-for-18 with RISP, allowing their .282 fifth-ranked batting average in conference play to cash a season-high 15 runs, while also eclipsing their previous high nine-run outburst against Cal State Northridge on February 24th.
The back-and-forth series began with a sluggish performance as the Trojans could barely scap together six hits in a crushing 10-0 loss on Friday, the second-largest loss of the year. The bright spot from the offensive side rested in the hands of Timmy Robinson who continued his double-digit game hitting streak.
Freshman starter Sean Silva followed a dominant six innings of shutout ball against Arizona State by falling back to humanity, allowing three runs –none earned– in 3.1 innings of work.
Errors were the biggest negative storyline from the weekend, committing seven defensive blunders leading to nine unearned runs.
The Trojans could not find much production in the order outside the top-three as James Roberts, Garrett Stubbs and Bobby Stahel combined for five of the six hits but were all left stranded. Freshmen outfielder and former high school pitching star Turner Clouse came out the bullpen for the first time all season, allowing three runs in 1.1 innings pitched, in a rather intriguing move from head coach Dan Hubbs.
Before the game even started on Saturday, the Trojans got some tremendously great news when sophomore Dante Flores was cleared to play for the first time since February 26th. Flores made an immediate impact in the order, going 1-4 for 2 RBI out of the three hole playing first base.
The Trojans responded alongside the return of their starting first baseman, scoring seven runs in the games first four innings, taking that momentum towards a 7-4 victory. USC allowed three runs in the final frame, and were able to get out a jam with the tying run at the dish in the ninth.
While the offense came alive, sophomore starter Wyatt Strahan will certainly earn player of the weekend for his superb performance. Strahan has pitched at least six innings in all but two starts this season and continued that mark on Saturday powering through eight innings of work, allowing one run while striking out six Utes in the dominating victory.
The Trojans follow up this series victory with a trip to Corvallis to square with the top-ranked team in the Pac-12 Conference in Oregon State (30-8, 11-4) beginning on Friday.