USC hosts DSU for the first time in school history

The USC baseball field looks out from their dugout
Junior infielder Ben Ramirez looks out from the dugout. The Trojan had four runs against Cal. (Charlie McCollum | Daily Trojan)

After a 1-2 road series loss against Cal last weekend, USC will host Dixie State at Dedeaux Field for a three-game series this weekend. The Trojans now have a 12-11 overall record and a 5-4 conference record. 

This will be the first-ever meeting between the Trojans and the Trailblazers. After competing at the Division II level for 14 years, this is the first season DSU is competing at the Division I level in the Western Athletic Conference. So far they have struggled in their first year and enter the series with an 9-17 overall record. 

Although the Trailblazers may be new to the conference, the Trojans are still going into this series with the same competitive attitude they strive to bring for any opponent. 

“We’re not going to take anything light about it,” redshirt junior left hand pitcher Isaac Esqueda said. “We’ve been keeping up with their record and seeing how they perform against other teams. We’re just gonna go out there and play another three game series and keep doing what we are doing.” 

USC won their first game of the series against Cal last Thursday 6-1 with a strong performance and career-high 8 innings pitched by Esqueda. The pitcher leads the USC rotation with a 2.27 earned run average this year. The Trojans have won all of his last four starts, and he leads the Trojans with 41 strikeouts in 43.2 innings. 

Esqueda will likely start Friday. 

“I’m not trying to change anything or do too much going into this week,” Esqueda said. “I mean it’s just another game that I have to perform and I feel like I’ve been putting in the work and it’s been paying off a lot. ”

USC struggled offensively for the rest of their series against Cal, losing 3-4 Friday and 1-5 Saturday. Despite the losses, the Trojans still feel confident in their ability to win. 

“It’s just part of the game where people get base hits and we’ve been playing defense well and we’ve been hitting the ball pretty well so I feel like it’s just executing when we have guys in scoring position,” Esqueda said. “But other than that I feel like we’re in a good position because it’s been close ball games every time so I feel like we need to just keep doing what we’re doing and it will pay off.”

Redshirt junior infielder Ben Ramirez and redshirt junior infielder Jamal O’Guinn have led the Trojans’ offense in the past few weeks. O’Guinn leads the team’s scorecard with five home runs, 20 RBI and 18 walks. Ramirez follows close behind with 4 homers and 15 RBI.

“Hitting and pitching both have been doing pretty well,” Esqueda said. “Hitting has helped us a lot even with our pitchers keeping the ballgame pretty close so our hitters are able to come up and score a few runs to have us win the game or take the lead early.” 

First pitch against Dixie State is Friday at 6 p.m.