Facing the No. 5 team in the country in Oregon State, the USC baseball team figured to have its hands full this past weekend in Corvallis, Ore.
They might have underestimated just how full, however.
The Beavers (34-8, 14-4 Pac-12) swept away the Trojans (16-26, 8-13) in their three-game set, and only one game could be considered a close one. Oregon State is in a battle with the rival Oregon Ducks to host a regional this year, and the Trojans expected the talented Beavers to come out with a vengeance after losing two of three to Washington the weekend before.
“We did nothing [offensively],” USC head coach Dan Hubbs said. “This is the first weekend where I felt like we just got beat up all weekend. We got out-manned, out-played, out-pitched, out-everything.”
The Beavers boast one of the nation’s best ERAs at an incredible 2.02. USC, however, has shown its ability to get hits off some of the nation’s best pitchers, knocking 13 against Oklahoma’s likely first-round draft pick Dillon Overton and seven against Stanford’s Marc Appel, who could be picked first overall in this June’s MLB draft.
But in Corvallis this weekend, the Trojans managed just 17 hits over the three games. For comparison’s sake, the Beavers had 20 on Friday alone.
“Really, all we did offensively is we hit three solo home runs,” Hubbs said. “Otherwise, they handed us our other runs.”
The only game that USC had a chance in, according to Hubbs, was Saturday’s. Sophomore starter Wyatt Strahan tossed 7 2/3 innings, allowing just three runs on five hits. But, as was the case all weekend, the Trojans’ bats could generate nothing against the Beavers’ arms.
Even on Friday, with junior ace Bob Wheatley keeping USC in the game for six innings, Hubbs said he felt the Trojans never had a chance.
The Trojans were again unable to salvage a win on Sunday with freshman Kyle Twomey on the mound. Twomey experienced the youthful control issues that have so plagued the Trojans this year, giving up four walks and a hit-by-pitch over four innings.
“Saturday was the only game I felt like we were in,” Hubbs said. “Even Friday, though we were only down 3-1” — the Beavers eventually blew the game open with three runs in the seventh and four in the eighth — “it just didn’t feel like we were going to be able to do anything. We were getting mauled at the plate. It felt like it might as well have been 12-1 when it was 3-1. They beat us up.”
It won’t get that much easier for USC today as it faces Pepperdine in Malibu, Calif. The Waves had the weekend off, meaning the Trojans can expect to see Sunday starter Aaron Brown.
Brown has a 1.52 ERA in his last three starts, including a complete game against Gonzaga in his last time out.
“We’re going to get pot-shotted by one of their weekend guys,” Hubbs said, referencing to the fact that midweek games usually see lesser pitchers start on the mound.
That won’t exactly be the case for USC, either. Junior Sean Silva, who has established himself as one of the team’s more reliable pitchers, will start on the mound for the Trojans.
Though Silva has worked his last few starts under a pitch count, he will go as long as he can tomorrow to spare the team’s bullpen a much-needed day off.
“He’s earned a little more leash,” Hubbs said of Silva.
The junior hasn’t allowed a run in his last three appearances and has seen his ERA drop from 11.57 to 4.05 in that span.
First pitch for today’s game is set for 3 p.m. The game will mark USC’s eighth consecutive road game, and during that stretch the Trojans are currently 3-4. The team has not played at Dedeaux Field since April 14.