USC looks to end struggles as its season winds down


The 2010 college baseball regular season ends May 30 for USC. If the Trojans want to play ball in June, they’ll have to find their stride and turn things around.

Doing so will not be easy.

Matching up · Sophomore Chad Smith and the USC pitching staff have struggled to keep pace with the rest of the Pac-10 this season. - Brandon Hui | Daily Trojan

USC (17-23, 3-12) is in last place in the conference, and eight games behind the leader, Arizona State. The Trojans have just 12 conference games remaining on their schedule to make up the deficit.

Tomorrow No. 17 Arizona comes to Dedeaux Field for a three-game series. The Wildcats are 28-11 on the season and 8-7 in the stacked Pac-10 conference.

They trail the Sun Devils by three games.

Every game the Trojans plays for the rest of the season — 20 in all — will come against a team that currently has a winning overall record.

The Trojans have three conference series remaining after this weekend’s games against Arizona. They play at No. 5 UCLA (30-7, 7-5) on May 14 to 16 and at Washington State (21-15, 5-7) on May 21 to 23.

USC closes the regular season at home against Washington (21-19, 5-7) on May 28 to 30.

The Trojans travel to Irvine on Tuesday to take on the Anteaters (24-14). The two teams will meet again 21 days later at Dedeaux Field.

UCI has won 10 of the last 11 matchups between the two teams dating back to 2004.

The Trojans will host Utah in a nonconference series at Dedeaux Field on May 7 to 9. The Utes are 19-18, and will be well-tested after a three-game series against No. 11 TCU.

Utah leads the all-time series 6-0, with the last game being played at Dedeaux Field in 1971.

The Trojans host Long Beach State (19-18) three days after the Utah series concludes. USC beat the Dirtbags 10-5 on March 2.

The last nonconference series of the year will be against New Mexico State, a two-game series on May 18 to 19. The Aggies are 31-12-1, and have lost just twice since March 20.

USC will have to rely on the bats of two sophomores, infielders Ricky Oropesa and Matt Foat, and junior infielder Joe De Pinto.

Oropesa leads the team in home runs (11) and RBI (40), with Foat second in RBI (30). De Pinto leads the team in runs scored, with 36.

Together, the trio has scored 90 runs ­— accounting for just over 42 percent of USC’s total run production for the season.

On the hill, USC has had its share of struggles. Sophomore starter Ben Mount has been solid for most of the season, pitching to a 3-3 record and a 3.38 ERA.

But sophomore starter Andrew Triggs has had a tough season. He’s 1-7 with a 4.38 ERA. Senior starter Kevin Couture is 2-2 with an ERA of 7.63.

USC’s team ERA is third worst in the conference, and opponents are hitting .289 against Trojan pitching — the second highest average in the Pac-10.

Three of the four conference teams remaining on the schedule — UCLA, Arizona and Washington State — have higher team batting averages and lower team ERAs.

Only Washington is ranked lower than USC in both categories.

  • Steve B.

    The season ends this weekend realistically unless the team can sweep Arizona. That only keeps them alive for the next challenge. Need to change coaches on June 1st and begin a real search for someone who can turn this program around to where it was in the early 2000’s.