The baseball team will take on UC Irvine at Dedeaux Field on Tuesday, coming off the heels of a weekend series win over Washington State. The Trojans will gladly welcome the beginning of a seven-game home stand, having traveled to Eugene and Pullman for Pac-12 matchups on back-to-back weeks. Winners of three of their last four games, they will look to build a head of steam with another midweek victory.
USC has battled through an up-and-down season so far. Inconsistent pitching has plagued them since the start of the year, but the Trojan pitching staff showed signs of clicking in their last weekend series at Washington State. Lights-out relief lifted USC to an extra-inning victory in the first contest of the three-game set, and eight dazzling innings from senior Kyle Davis gave the bullpen a rest on Saturday. Food poisoning slowed down sophomore Mitch Hart, however, and the USC arms combined to give up 9 to the Cougars in the series finale.
On the other hand, the Trojan bats have hit efficiently for most of the season, combing for a .293 team average, and they continued their solid year against Washington State. Four of the nine starters in the USC lineup are hitting over .300, including junior Jeremy Martinez and senior David Oppenheim, who both boast averages over .360. Martinez has also enjoyed a power surge in 2016: The veteran Trojan backstop has already demolished his career-high for home runs (2), swatting five dingers with 18 games left to spare in the regular season.
Despite missing out on the sweep on Sunday, the Trojans grabbed another valuable Pac-12 series win in Pullman. A conference with a lot of parity this season means that Washington and Utah share the top spot in the standings at three games over .500, and USC sits just two games off the pace despite owning a 7-8 in-conference record.
The squad will be out-of-conference against UC Irvine, however, and the team has played well recently when taking the field under the lights during the week. USC has won four of its last five one-off matchups, with a 12-8 record at home so far this season. Tuesday’s game will be the first of two tilts between the Anteaters and the Trojans this year — the season series will wrap up in late May, as USC travels to Irvine.
The Anteaters are enjoying a strong season to date, with a 23-14 record on the year, but they are fourth to last in the Big West with a 6-6 mark in-conference. Their record on the road also hovers around .500.
The Trojans, however, haven’t beaten UC Irvine since 2013 and will try to snap a four-game losing streak against the Anteaters on Tuesday. USC will aim to capitalize on its significant power advantage: UC Irvine has hit 12 home runs as a team in 2016 and the Trojans have more than three times that tally with 34. The Anteaters have pitched better as a staff this season, however, with a 4.07 team ERA, compared to 4.96 for USC.
First pitch at Dedeaux Field will be at 6 p.m. USC will then host Arizona over the weekend to continue the Trojans’ Pac-12 schedule.