Baseball does what football couldn’t
USC had a decent weekend on the diamond, winning two of their three games and dropping their Sunday matchup against crosstown rival UCLA.
However, the Trojans got a bit of revenge Saturday in their 13-8 win against Tulane, who beat USC in football in the Cotton Bowl Classic earlier this year. In a flurry of hits, walks and runs, a bundled-up crowd saw the USC baseball team take down the Green Wave.
The Trojans recorded 13 hits in an offensive shootout that gave USC a winning record for the first time since Feb. 25. Senior designated hitter Nick Lopez and senior catcher Connor Clift led the team with 3 hits each.
Head Coach Andy Stankiewicz attributed the team’s success behind the plate to their ability to hit the ball in the middle of the field.
“That’s when we’re best, when we stay at the middle of the field,” Stankiewicz said. “Guys did a nice job of just booking them over the diamond, so we put some good swings together.”
It was Clift who brought in the first run for the Trojans, hitting a single in the bottom of the 2nd inning that allowed senior infielder Johnny Olmstead to put the Trojans on the board.
This came after a disastrous top of the 2nd inning, in which junior starting pitcher Jaden Agassi let up a walk, 4 hits and committed a fielding error in an attempt to pick off a Tulane player attempting to steal a base.
“[Agassi] is a big pivotal part of our program. We’re just trying to help him get through those tough innings,” Stankiewicz said. “We need him to go deeper, we need all of our starters to go in the 6th innings. So we’re just trying to encourage him to … just stay in the moment, make pitches more than anything else.”
Agassi let up a home run in the top of the 3rd but quickly retired the three following batters, setting up an explosive inning for the Trojan offense. USC scored 7 runs off of 4 hits, with freshman center fielder Austin Overn and redshirt freshman infielder Bryce Martin-Grudzielanek stealing bases.
Overn showed his perseverance when, in the 8th inning, he was struck by a ball that hit his bat. He stepped back from the plate, and an athletic trainer came over to look at him. Overn made it clear that he was okay, and on the next pitch hit a triple to bring home the final run of the Trojan’s 13-8 victory.
“He’s a tough kid. He’s got some mentality, he’s got some skill and he can certainly run as good as anybody,” Stankiewicz said. “When he gets on base, it’s a threat for sure.”
However, USC’s luck ran out on Sunday, losing 5-3 to UCLA. After a slow first 8 innings for the Trojans, whose offensive efforts yielded a single run despite having some success getting on base, a 2-run homer from junior pitcher/infielder Nate Clow injected life back into the USC dugout in the top of the 9th inning.
Senior outfielder Cole Gabrielson and junior infielder Ryan Jackson both got base hits following Clow’s homer, but Lopez hit a pop fly that sank the Trojans’ chance at a comeback.
Redshirt freshman pitcher Eric Hammond got the start and was credited with the loss after giving up 4 hits and 3 earned runs.
The Trojans will next face the University of Nevada Wednesday at Dedeaux Field. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m.