After losing three straight games and scoring only six runs, USC head coach Chad Kreuter decided it was time for a lineup change.
For at least one night, it worked.
Kreuter shuffled the batting order and the Trojans responded, scoring 10 runs on 12 hits in a 10-5 road victory at Long Beach State.
The victory got the Trojans (4-4) back to .500 after starting the season 3-1.
Sophomore first baseman Ricky Oropesa, the team’s leader in home runs and RBIs last season, batted leadoff. Senior outfielder Mike O’Neill, who had hit first or second in every game this season, batted third.
And both men delivered.
Oropesa homered and scored two runs, and O’Neill reached base and scored a run as well.
The Trojans trailed 3-0 two innings into the game. The Dirtbags began the second with three straight hits off of junior starter Brett Williams, including a run-scoring double and a two-run home run.
But Williams, who hadn’t pitched more than two-third of an inning in his previous three appearances, settled down. He allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings of work in his first start.
The Trojans responded with a seven-run outburst in the top of the third, and never looked back.
Sophomore outfielder Alex Sherrod tied the game at 3-3 with a three-run home run to right centerfield. Junior third baseman Matt Hart followed with a double and advanced to third on a wild pitch before sophomore Matt Foat struck out for the second out of the inning.
It looked like the inning could have ended when sophomore first baseman Beau Brett hit a grounder to Long Beach State shortstop Kirk Singer. But Singer committed an error on the play, allowing Brett to reach base and Hart to score, giving USC a 4-3 lead.
The Trojans kicked the door down two batters later, when sophomore second baseman Ashton Kent homered to make it 7-3.
USC added two more runs in the top of the fourth, taking advantage of another Long Beach error, this one by second baseman Matt Duffy.
But Long Beach continued to claw back, scoring a run in the bottom of the fifth and chasing Williams from the game. Junior Chris Mezger came on in relief and allowed a run in the bottom of the seventh, cutting the lead to 9-4
Oropesa’s homer in the top of the eighth gave USC a 10-5 lead, and the Trojans held on from there.
Mezger, who last pitched one-third of an inning on Feb. 20 against Cal Poly, went 4 2/3 innings in relief of Williams and earned the victory. It was the first of his collegiate career.
Junior shortstop Joe De Pinto, hitting second in the lineup, had three hits and scored twice. Kent finished the day with two hits, a run scored and three RBIs.
USC will return home for a three-game series this weekend at Dedeaux Field against New Mexico.