Baseball looks to get on track in home series Friday

Sophomore pitcher Charlie Hurley throws a pitch on the mound during USC’s game against Oregon State in March.
Sophomore pitcher Charlie Hurley throws a pitch on the mound during USC’s game against Oregon State in March. Hurley has a 5-6 record this season. The Trojans have lost eight of their last nine games, dating back to early April. (Vincent Leo | Daily Trojan)

USC is putting in work as it prepares for its upcoming three-game home series against Utah this weekend. The Trojans currently have a conference record of 4-11, but have an overall 18-16 record. 

Last weekend, Arizona State’s offense was too hot to handle for USC. The Trojans lost to the Sun Devils on Thursday 14-12, again on Friday 8-2 and succumbed to a close match on Saturday 9-8. 

Arizona State racked up 7 home runs against USC compared to only 4 from the Trojans. Head Coach Jason Gill commented on some inconsistencies the team has experienced lately. 

“It’s like when we hit the ball, we haven’t been really executing well on the mound, and when we don’t hit the ball, we seem to execute well on the mound,” said Gill in an interview with the Daily Trojan. “We’re just falling short one way or the other, but they played hard.”

The Trojans played another close game Tuesday against Cal State Fullerton which ended in a 5-4 loss. Redshirt sophomore outfielder Rhylan Thomas went 3-for-3 with a home run and 2 RBIs, but it wasn’t enough to stay in the lead. 

USC let up offensively in innings seven through nine, leaving room for Fullerton to make a comeback in the final inning. The Titans’ junior outfielder Deylan Pigford’s single to left field brought in fellow junior outfielder Damone Hale. Then, Pigford scored on a wild pitch to end the game.

Sophomore relief pitcher Matt Keating has done a remarkable job at sealing the deal to close out the game for a win, but hit a bump against Fullerton.

“[Keating] has been our guy all year coming out of the pen. He’s shut down really good teams,” Gill said. “He’s just had a little bump in the road, and not just him you know, but last night that was him, and so we gotta try to find our confidence and get out there the next time he takes the mound.”

Returning to home territory, the Trojans will now face the Utes who are 7-8 in the Pac-12  and have a 21-14-1 overall record. 

Redshirt junior catcher Jayden Kiernan, freshman infielder Landon Frei and redshirt sophomore pitcher/first baseman TJ Clarkson lead the Utes in batting averages, hitting .361, .355 and .341, respectively.

Clarkson will be the player USC needs to watch out for, as he was named National Player of the Week last month. He has a total of 42 hits, 10 home runs and 32 RBIs. 

The past four games have surely left the Trojans disappointed, but also motivated to remain competitive and the need to remain confident. 

“Honestly, we probably need a little rest. We need to clear our minds,” Gill said. “It’s probably just confidence. It’s a very fragile thing and when you lose it, even briefly, it can affect you in a big way, so I think we need to try to find that back. I think a couple wins can get us going again.”

USC marches ahead into this weekend’s series hoping for redemption. The first pitch is set for 6 p.m. Friday at Dedeaux Field.