Riding to the Seattle airport Saturday evening, the USC baseball team was somber and quiet, knowing it had let an opportunity to sweep a Pac-10 series slip away.
But interim coach Frank Cruz remained emphatic that the team keep its head up and move on to the next one.
And by the time the team took a bus from the Los Angeles airport back to the USC campus, it was again in good spirits. After all, the Trojans had come away with a conference series win for the third-straight weekend, taking two of three games from Washington.
“I’m disappointed we didn’t win on Saturday,” Cruz said. “It’s the last taste in your mouth, so that’s what you feel. But beyond that, any time you take two of three on the road, it’s a solid weekend.”
Washington snapped the Trojans’ five-game winning streak with an 8-2 victory Saturday at Husky Ballpark after USC won the first two games 2-1 and 12-9.
Washington led 3-1 in the series finale after four innings, but blew the game open in the fifth inning when it scored five runs with two outs. Following a pair of groundouts, senior starting pitcher Logan Odom loaded the bases, allowing a pair of singles and a hit batsman.
Cruz inserted reliever freshman Kyle Richter to try to quell the rally, but he was greeted with a two-run double from Chase Anselment and a three-run home run from Joe Meggs that gave the Huskies an insurmountable 8-1 lead.
With Easter on Sunday, the Trojans traveled to Seattle a day earlier and began their weekend series with Washington on Thursday rather than the traditional Friday.
Junior Andrew Triggs seemed to enjoy the Thursday start. The Trojans’ ace pitched a complete game, allowing only five hits and one run. He also struck out a career-high 10 batters.
“Triggs pitched great on Thursday,” Cruz said. “He really had his sinker going.”
But Triggs’ best play might have come on a ground ball to first in the sixth inning. With the tying run heading to third base, the pitcher became a goalie, dropping down to block a throw in the dirt when he covered first base as USC attempted to turn a double play.
The offense provided all the run support Triggs would need in the second inning when freshman shortstop James Roberts doubled home a pair of runners with two outs.
“The guy that goes unsung is James Roberts,” Cruz said. “He’s been so consistent. He made a big relay throw Saturday and threw another guy out at the plate Friday. He’s hitting .279 and has played great defense. He’s very reliable as a freshman.”
Roberts had hits in all three games to add to his team-leading .400 batting average in conference play.
On Friday, the Trojans put on an offensive display in a 12-9 victory, scoring in the double-digits for only the third time this season.
Junior catcher and leadoff hitter Kevin Roundtree smacked three hits, including his first home run of the season. Roundtree eclipsed his season RBI total with three runs driven in.
Though USC had taken an 11-2 lead, things got close in the late innings when Washington scored seven runs in the seventh. But junior Ben Mount slammed the door, pitching two and one-third perfect innings and striking out three to pick up his second save of the season.
With junior closer Chad Smith out for the season with an elbow injury that will require Tommy John surgery, Mount has stepped up in late game situations.
“He really tried to pick up the slack for Chad Smith being out,” Cruz said. “He worked on his form and has really pitched well the last couple of weeks.”
The Trojans will be back in action Tuesday when they take on Long Beach State at 6 p.m. at Dedeaux Field.