Baseball drops two games at Utah

Junior pitcher Connor Lunn has dominated as the team’s No. 1 starter with a 5-1 record this year. (Daily Trojan file photo)

The Trojans started strong on the road in Salt Lake City, but they were unable to maintain their good form and lost the final two games of the series to Utah. With the series now behind them, the Trojans are 14-20 on the year.

Junior pitcher Connor Lunn started on the mound for the Trojans in their 6-0 victory in Thursday night’s opener and looked as commanding as ever. In six innings, Lunn hurled nine strikeouts while allowing only one hit and no earned runs.

“I was really able to introduce my new curveball that I’ve been working on,” Lunn said to USC Athletics. “I was able to get some swings and misses on that, and it helped my fastball a little bit.”

This marks three consecutive wins for Lunn, who started the season as the Trojan’s go-to closer late in the game. With some pitching struggles earlier in the year, there was an opening for someone to take the No. 1 pitching spot in the Trojan rotation, and Lunn has flourished in the role. He is 5-1 on the year and has some impressive victories against teams like UCLA and Arizona State.

However, Lunn was assisted by some hot Trojan hitting Thursday. Six players had multiple hits and the team accounted for 16 total for the game.

“It really gives me a lot of positive energy pitching,” Lunn said. “Knowing that they are going to pick me [up] and that all I need to focus on is what I need to do and just get it done.”

Specifically, sophomore right fielder Jamal O’Guinn couldn’t miss in the series opener. He went 4-for-5 in the game and contributed three RBIs.

“When I go up there, my thing is just get the next guy up and help the team out as much as I can,” O’Guinn told the Pac-12 Network. “So my thing is just get them over and get somebody else an RBI and go from there.”

However, the Trojans couldn’t replicate their lights out performance against the Utes in the following two games of the series.

In the second game in Salt Lake City, the Trojans lost by a narrow 5-4 margin.

Utah took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. The Utes then added another run in the bottom of the fourth before the Trojans tied the game at 2 runs apiece in the top of the fifth inning. Senior shortstop Chase Bushor drove in sophomore third baseman Ben Ramirez before scoring on a double play ball.

However, the Utes quickly struck back and retook the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. Then, in the sixth inning, each team scored 1 run to bring the score to 5-3 going into the seventh inning. The Trojans then scored 1 more run in the seventh inning, but the Utes locked things down to take the contest.

The final game of the series ended the same way as the second. The Trojans came up short despite coming back from an early deficit, and the Utes claimed the final game of the series by a score of 5-4.

Following this series, the Trojans will take on Pepperdine, a team sitting above .500 on the year with a 17-14 overall record.

On paper, the matchup between the Trojans and the Waves appears to be even. Both teams have solid hitting with the same batting average of .270 on the year. Both teams also have comparable ERAs above 4. First pitch is Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Dedeaux Field.