All three of their starters went at least seven innings as USC (13-19, 4-5) took two of three from the Cardinal (15-9, 3-3) to win its first Pac-10 series of the season.
Senior pitcher Logan Odom was in control Sunday. The righthander stranded two runners in the first, got a double play to end the third and another in the fifth. In the sixth, he escaped a second and third, one-out jam by striking out the next two Cardinal hitters. In the end, Odom scattered six hits over seven shutout innings to pick up the win and improve his record to 3-4.
“I was throwing all three pitches for strikes today,” Odom said. “Obviously that really helps. Guys can’t sit on one pitch and it keeps them on their toes.”
USC gave Odom support early. Junior catcher Kevin Roundtree led off the first inning with a double, was sacrificed to third and scored on a sacrifice fly.
The Trojans manufactured a run without a hit in the second. Junior first baseman Matt Foat was hit by a pitch and advanced to third on a pair of sacrifices before scoring on a wild pitch to give USC a 2-0 lead.
Roundtree led off the third with another hit and moved to third on a hit-and-run by junior centerfielder Garret Houts. Both ended up scoring on a pair of RBI knocks by Oropesa and Foat to give the Trojans a 4-0 lead.
USC added a pair of runs in the sixth, the first on an infield hit by sophomore left fielder J.R. Aguirre and the second on sacrifice bunt by Roundtree.
Junior closer Chad Smith inherited the bases loaded with two outs in the eight and allowed a two-RBI single but got the next hitter looking to head to the ninth up 6-2. He retired the Cardinal in order in the ninth to clinch the series win.
“We were finally able to relax a little bit,” said USC interim coach Frank Cruz. “We’ve been trying way too hard, and the boys deserve it. Hopefully we can build on this.”
As good as Odom was Sunday, junior pitcher Austin Wood was even better Saturday. The righthander went eight strong innings, allowing just one unearned run. He struck out the side in the first inning and fanned eight hitters over the course of the game while walking just two.
“I was ready to go,” Wood said. “I was tired of not doing well.”
The 3-1 final score was representative of the kind of small-ball game it was. None of the Trojans’ three runs came off of a hit. The first came on a botched squeeze play in the third inning. Houts couldn’t get a bunt down, but Aguirre slid in under the tag and was credited with a straight steal of home.
In the fourth inning Foat scored on a wild pitch, and in the fifth Roundtree scored on a groundout.
Like Odom, Wood was the beneficiary of some clutch double plays, getting out of jams in the second and sixth. After Wood left the game with a runner on in the ninth, Smith got the first hitter he faced to ground into a double play and ended the game with a strikeout for his fourth save of the season.
“I thought we made a lot of quality defense plays today,” Cruz said. “The double plays were huge.”
Friday was what Cruz refers to as a “throwaway game.” Stanford pitcher Mark Appel went the distance, allowing just one unearned run and four hits while striking out seven Trojan hitters. Stanford put up a four-spot in the fifth and ran away with the game 8-1.
“It’s great to bounce back so well after a game like Friday,” Cruz said. “This is a very good team we beat.”
The Trojans are right back at it Tuesday as they travel to Pepperdine for a 3 p.m. matchup against the Waves.