The baseball team traveled to North Carolina last weekend for a three-game set against Wake Forest before wrapping up the road trip with a one-off game against Duke on Monday. Though the Trojans (6-2) split the trip 2-2, the weekend came with many positives. After dropping the series opener against the Demon Deacons on Friday, USC rebounded to take Saturday’s game. Though Wake Forest ultimately took the series with a win in Sunday’s rubber game, the Trojans recovered quickly again, bouncing back to beat the Blue Devils one day later.
Junior third baseman Adalberto Carrillo came away with his first career grand slam in the Trojans’ 15-9 victory over Wake Forest, the second game of the series on Saturday. Junior starting pitcher Mason Perryman
(1-0) made the longest start of his career against Duke and went 6-plus innings, giving up no runs in a 2-0
Senior right fielder Corey Dempster had two home runs, including his first of the year, a 2-run blast against Wake Forest on Sunday and a solo shot against Duke. Dempster also had a single and a double against Wake Forest in Game 2 as well as a running catch in Game 3 — an 18-5 loss — to help the Trojans get out of a
bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the fifth.
Redshirt junior shortstop Frankie Rios also hit his first home run of the season, a 2-run shot in Game 1 against Wake Forest, which USC lost 15-5 on Friday. He doubled in two runs in Game 2 against Wake Forest.
Sophomore infielder Dillon Paulson got his first hit of the year, a single against Wake Forest in the top of the second in Game 2. Redshirt sophomore pitcher Bryce Dyrda made his first start of the season with a 1-2-3 inning in Game 3 against Wake Forest.
Wake Forest proved to be a very formidable opponent, scoring a total of 48 runs to USC’s 25 runs in the
three-game series. The Trojans were able to capitalize on many mistakes by Wake Forest, scoring two runs off balks and another run after the assistance of a balk. Balks are normally an unusual sight;however, the Trojans have seen quite a few in their short
Freshman left fielder Matt Acosta continued to dazzle in the outfield and on the base path with several nice catches and a steal of home in the top of the seventh inning against Duke.
Sophomore center fielder Lars Nootbaar kept his bat hot with two solo homers, one each in Games 2 and 3 against Wake Forest.
Freshman pitcher Connor Lunn had a good outing against Wake Forest in Game 3. He went 4.2 innings in relief of starter Marrick Crouse, giving up three runs and at one point retiring five straight. Lunn struck out a career high six batters and gave up no walks.
Carrillo’s road trip was more than just his 428-foot homer. He turned a double play in Game 1 against Wake Forest in addition to tripling and scoring the next inning. In Game 2, Carrillo singled in a run before hitting the grand slam.
Sophomore pitcher Solomon Bates worked his way out of multiple jams in Game 1 with a strikeout looking and a groundout. Bates also struck out two in relief of Perryman against Duke.
Sophomore pitcher Quentin Longrie (1-0) got the win for the Trojans in Game 2 against Wake Forest, going 2.2 innings in relief of starter Brad Wegman with three strikeouts and three earned runs on five hits.
Given that Nootbaar had been one of the driving offensive forces prior to the road trip, it was good to see more bats coming to life by the likes of Rios, Carrillo, Dempster and Paulson.
Excluding the exhibition game against the NC Dinos, Friday’s game against Wake Forest was Dempster’s first start of the season.
The road trip showed that the Trojans’ team has a lot of talent and is able to utilize their opponents mistakes to the best of their ability. Not only were they were able to play long ball with the home runs, but they also stole bases and caused pitchers to balk.
The young team continues to search for consistency after beating Duke and taking a game from Wake Forest. They will have some time to rest from traveling, with no games scheduled for the next three days. Up next, the Trojans take on San Diego on Friday at 6 p.m. at Dedeaux Field.