After blasting its way to a series win over Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Calif., last weekend, the USC baseball team will look to open up its home schedule with a win when USC starts its series with Loyola Marymount today.
“We haven’t played well the last couple of years at home,” USC coach Chad Kreuter said. “Even before I got here we were struggling.”
Having started 2-6 at Dedeaux Field last season, it is imperative for his team to get off to a strong start at home, Kreuter said.
“The importance is that we want to rack up as many wins as we can, and that starts this week,” he said.
Taking the mound for the Trojans (2-1) today will be Ben Mount. Mount will be on two days rest after a three-inning relief appearance Saturday in which he allowed two runs on five hits. Kreuter expects four to five solid innings out of the 6-foot-8, right-handed sophomore.
“We are expecting him to keep growing as a pitcher and to keep us competitive,” Kreuter said. “We want him to give us some innings and work into a bullpen that is loaded with good arms.”
USC will look to continue swinging the sticks like it did against Cal Poly over the weekend, when USC batted a combined .321.
The Trojan hitters will look to take advantage of a LMU pitching staff that allowed 33 runs to nationally ranked UC Irvine. The Lions’ pitchers didn’t get much help from the fielders behind them after their defense committed six errors, including five in Saturday’s 9-6 loss — the closest game of the series.
LMU (0-4) also showed a susceptibility to giving up big innings, allowing three or more runs on six different occasions over the weekend.
The Lions, however, can be a dangerous team, as they demonstrated last season when they went 9-2 against ranked teams, losing only to UC Irvine.
“They’ll be fine,” Kreuter said yesterday on his way to Marina Del Rey, Calif., to scout the Lions’ game against Oregon. “There’s no spring training, so everyone is still trying to figure out their rotation and lineup.”
The Trojans are trying to get those minor issues settled prior to their upcoming big weekend where they will play national powers Oklahoma State, Vanderbilt and crosstown rival UCLA.
The Trojans are also hoping to see a large student contingency in the stands.
“Maybe we need a call to arms or something,” Kreuter said. “But the kids are excited to play at home, so we’d love to get better attendance than we’ve had [in Kreuter’s first three seasons as head coach].”
“But in the end, it’s a shame on us if we don’t play well in such a nice complex,” he said.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated USC batted a combined .229 against Cal Poly.