The USC baseball team traveled to San Diego this past weekend to participate in the Tony Gwynn Classic at San Diego State.
USC beat Seattle University 6-2, lost to Southern Illinois 3-1 and took down SDSU in a comeback 11-5 victory. The Trojans are now 4-2 early in the season.
USC took on Seattle Friday in the first game of the event. The Redhawks were an unfamiliar opponent for the Trojans, as USC entered Friday with just a 2-0 all-time head-to-head advantage.
The game started off quickly for the Trojans as USC scored three runs in the first inning thanks to a 3-run home run from sophomore first baseman Clay Owens, who finished with 4 RBIs. Juniors righty Kyle Hurt and lefty John Beller combined to allow just one earned run on the night as the Trojans coasted to the victory.
The Trojans took on another opponent they had not seen in more than 40 years when they played Southern Illinois Saturday. In USC’s second loss of the season, the Trojans could not find a way to get the bats going.
There were still some bright spots for the Trojans, however. Junior pitcher Isaac Esqueda pitched 5.1 innings while allowing only 2 runs on six hits with three strikeouts, and Owens added two hits out of just four on the day for USC.
In the final game of the Tony Gwynn Classic Sunday, USC took on a familiar opponent in SDSU. Having faced the Aztecs a total of 89 times, the Trojans got their 61st win against the Aztecs on a 5-run comeback win to cap off the weekend.
“I was actually pretty proud of them,” head coach Jason Gill said. “It was a long stretch. We didn’t hit well yesterday, and then the first five innings of the game today seemed to snowball into ‘Oh no, here we go again.’ It just takes one or two guys to break that open.”
It was SDSU, however, which started the game off hot, scoring 5 runs in the first four innings. Redshirt sophomore pitcher Alex Cornwell lasted only 3.2 innings, giving up 3 earned runs on nine hits for the Trojans a week after pitching 5.2 innings of 2-run ball against Western Michigan.
As for the Aztecs, sophomore pitcher Aaron Eden had a perfect first three innings before giving up a walk with two outs in the fourth. But it was only a matter of time before USC started its comeback. The Trojans put up 11 unanswered runs the rest of the game, including 2 in the seventh and 4 more in the ninth.
For the Trojans, freshman center fielder Rhylan Thomas finished the game with three hits and 2 runs while junior shortstop Ben Ramirez finished with three RBIs.
“[SDSU was] kinda pitching us backward, and to beat guys like that, you gotta use the whole field,” Gill said. “You can’t just sit up there and try to hit 500-foot home runs. What [Thomas and Ramirez] did was [they] went the other way with the baseball. And it paid off.”
USC will travel to face Cal State Fullerton before returning home to take on Keio University Tuesday and Wednesday. CSUF is 3-4 on the season despite having a historically strong program. On the other hand, Keio — a part of the Tokyo Big6 Baseball League that features six prominent baseball programs — will be traveling from Japan for an exhibition game.
“We gotta get on a little roll,” Gill said. “We have a tough matchup on Tuesday against Cal State Fullerton, and I know they just recently got ranked. So we got our hands full on Tuesday and that’s all we’re going to focus on.”