Spring break was a welcome change for the USC baseball team.
Though they didn’t take a break from action on the diamond, the Trojans did break free of an eight-game losing skid, winning four games before Pacific snapped the Trojans’ streak Saturday, taking both games of a doubleheader.
“We learned a lot about ourselves as a team last week,” said junior pitcher Ben Mount. “We grew a lot and got a lot better.”
Today, USC will look to start a new winning streak at 3 p.m. when it hosts UC Santa Barbara at Dedeaux Field.
“We’ve been throwing the ball well,” said USC interim coach Frank Cruz. “Our midweek starters have been stepping it up as well.”
The Trojans will lean on a pitching staff that hadn’t allowed more than five runs in four games prior to Saturday’s losses to Pacific.
Friday night starter Andrew Triggs also seems to have finally settled into a groove.
Triggs has won his last two starts, and in the opener against Pacific, the junior threw his third career complete game, allowing only one earned run while striking out five.
Mount, who is likely to start today against the Gauchos, leads USC starters with a 1.10 ERA. He has only allowed two earned runs in five appearances this season, including three starts. He will look to get USC back on track.
On the offensive side, senior Joe De Pinto continues to thrive in the middle of the lineup with a team-leading .353 batting average and .432 on base percentage.
Junior slugger Ricky Oropesa still has yet to hit a home run after hitting 20 dingers last season. The preseason All-American does lead the team with six doubles and is tied for the team lead with 14 runs while batting .338.
The two have combined to hit all six of the team’s homers. Sherrod is second in the Pac-10 with four home runs — one behind Arizona’s Josh Garcia.
The Trojans’ bats will need to hit UC Santa Barbara mid-week starter Nick Loredo (2-0, 3.15 ERA) better than they did last time out when Laredo held USC to two runs in seven and one-third innings.
“We need to execute better [to win this time]” Mount said. “We weren’t ready last time.”
Laredo picked up the 3-2 win as Matt Vedo came on to pick up the save in the ninth inning as the Trojans left the bases loaded.
In that game, second baseman Sean Williams had a pair of hits, including a two-run double. Williams has continued to stay hot. In his last four games, he is batting .667 (10-15) and has driven in three runs.
Among USC’s five wins during the extended week was a 2-0 victory against then-No. 13 UCLA in the Dodgertown Classic at Dodger Stadium.
The Trojans split their first two games of the Dodgertown Classic, beating Saint Mary’s 6-2 before losing to Georgia 5-3.
USC followed up the Dodgertown Classic with a two-game sweep of Big East power Louisville, who came to Dedeaux Field with an 11-3 record and ranked No. 19 by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.