Baseball returns home, beats Seattle

Baseball player runs to first after hitting the ball.
The Trojans improved to 8-4 at Dedeaux this season, a record they will look to improve on in a three-game home stand this coming weekend. (Louis Chen | Daily Trojan)

USC baseball defeated the Seattle Redhawks by a score of 9-4 Wednesday night, marking its second straight victory and making the Trojans 6-1 over their last seven outings. The Trojans battled adversity in what became a frigid evening caused by unexpected rain, but were able to beat the Redhawks thanks to senior infielder Johnny Olmstead’s 3-run triple in the bottom of the seventh inning. 

Olmstead’s triple came at the right time, as USC had been struggling to get on the scoreboard again despite a quick 2-0 start in the first inning. From there, USC would go on to tack on 3 more runs, one of them coming in the remainder of the seventh inning while the other two came in the bottom of the eighth inning. 

Unlike previous seasons, the unfamiliar cold and rainy weather in Los Angeles has made field conditions tricky to figure out. Regardless, Head Coach Andy Stankiewicz said the weather is simply a part of the game.

“[The weather] is what it is,” said Stankiewicz in a postgame interview with the Daily Trojan. “When the umpire says ‘play ball,’ we just gotta go and so I think the guys have done a nice job of responding well to the elements.”

Although USC was standing at 5-7-1 after its first 13 games, it has recently gotten into a groove that started with back-to-back victories against No. 2 Stanford in a series earlier in March. The team’s winning ways continued when they traveled to Cal Poly a week ago and then this past weekend in their series against UC Berkeley, which they won 2-1. With their win Wednesday over Seattle, the Trojans are now 6-1 in their past seven games, bringing their overall record to 11-8-1. 

“We’ve got a long way to go,” Stankiewicz said. “But guys are feeling good about themselves… [and are] starting to gain some confidence and are understanding that it’s not necessarily about the opponents, it’s about playing good baseball. That’s what we preach.”

Although the Trojans came out on top and scored 2 runs early in the first inning, they still seemed to struggle in the middle game, where they scored just 1 run in innings 2 through 6. On the defensive side of the ball, however, USC has been especially successful, giving up an average of just under 4 runs a game over its last six games. The Trojans’ defensive capabilities have been the X factor in their recent success, and it needs to stay that way as the team continues to develop its ability to swing inside the strike zone.

“Part of the frustrations sometimes is that we can’t leave the [strike] zone,” Stankiewicz said. “Sometimes we get aggressive but the aggressiveness leads to swings out of the [strike] zone. It’s part of the game, it’s part of our development as an offense is doing a better job of getting a good pitch to hit.”

In Wednesday’s game against Seattle, USC played seven pitchers, allowing senior pitcher Blake Sodersten to rest for this coming weekend. Looking on to the weekend, as USC prepares to face Washington State in a three-game series at Dedeaux Field, Stankiewicz said that he is pleased with how his team is playing — especially some of the pitchers that played tonight. 

“[Senior pitcher] Kyle Wisch did a really good job, [redshirt senior pitcher] Garrett Clarke has been superb for us,” Stankiewicz said. “I’m just encouraged by the ways that guys are starting to understand their roles and what they’re supposed to do in that role and buy into that role.” 

USC’s next game is later tonight against Washington State at Dedeaux Field at 6:30 p.m.