USC baseball has proven it can win tough games on the road so far in the 2012 season.
Consecutive wins over Stanford and UC Irvine, both in unfriendly territory, have established a precedent the Trojans hope to follow during their weekend road trip to Pullman, Wash., to take on the Washington State Cougars.
Although USC is enjoying one of its best seasons in years thus far, the team is 2-4 in Pac-12 play, a record that won’t bode well if the team hopes to play beyond May.
The Cougars, however, have lost five out of their last eight games despite hitting .294 as a team. The Wazzu offense, which features sluggers outfielder Derek Jones (five home runs to lead the team) and first baseman Taylor Ard (four homers and 16 runs driven in), will face USC’s trio of weekend starters.
Senior pitchers Andrew Triggs and Ben Mount, along with freshman Stephen Tarpley, have all posted impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio, and Tarpley still has not registered a loss despite some command problems to begin the season.
Based on how USC coach Frank Cruz has lined it up all year, the Trojans will most likely go with Triggs on Friday, Mount Saturday and Tarpley to finish out the series on Sunday.
USC’s offense, meanwhile, has exceeded expectations as well. Despite losing two of three to powerhouse Stanford, the Trojans outscored the Cardinal in the series 12 to 11, no easy feat considering the Stanford pitching staff consists of three of the top starters in the country.
Washington State represents a crucial series for the Trojans. The Cougars are 10th in the conference, while USC stands at ninth, and USC would like to begin to distance itself from the bottom dwellers of the Pac-12.
First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 5 p.m., while Saturday and Sunday’s games are slated to begin at 2 p.m. and 11 a.m., respectively.