USC Baseball gets swept in Corvallis

USC baseball player holding bat.
The Trojans suffered their first series sweep since they were defeated in back to back matches aginast Auburn at the end of February. (Cassandra Elena Yra | Daily Trojan)

After winning five straight games against non-conference opponents, USC Baseball resumed Pac-12 play against Oregon State this past weekend. The Trojans got swept by the Beavers in a three-game series full of rain, extra innings and excitement. 

USC continues to struggle away from Dedeaux Field, as it’s now 4-9-1 away from home this season while sporting an excellent 16-4 home record.

USC came out dry in a rainy game on Sunday, with its first three hitters going down in order for the first inning of the game. Redshirt freshman right-handed pitcher Eric Hammond got the nod for the Trojans and got roughed up a bit. The team’s usual Sunday starter only lasted three innings while giving up three hits, four walks and two earned runs. 

Things could have been much worse for the Trojans in the third inning, when Hammond walked the first two batters of the inning. He got Oregon State freshman designated hitter Mason Guerra to ground out in a fielder’s choice, but redshirt freshman second baseman Bryce Martin-Grudzielanek made a throwing error to give the Beavers a 2-0 lead. Hammond caught the runner lacking and picked him off, then struck out the last batter of the inning.

The Trojans had a mere four hits on the afternoon, while only managing to go 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Their best chance came at the top of the seventh inning, when senior designated hitter Nick Lopez and senior catcher Connor Clift walked to start the inning, and the Trojan’s homerun leader, senior pinch hitter Cole Gabrielson, came up to the plate and eventually walked. The Trojans had the bases loaded with no outs, but only managed to scrape away one run, with freshman center fielder Austin Overn striking out to end the inning.

This was a trend in the series in Corvallis, as the Trojans couldn’t manage to score too many runs. The Trojans came into the series averaging 7.63 runs per game, but only scored 4, 2 and 3 runs each game, respectively. 

One of the few sharp performances of the weekend was sophomore right-handed pitcher Josh Blum, who appeared in two games over the weekend, throwing 1.1 shutout innings while allowing no hits and one walk. The Texas native now sports a 2.66 ERA, throwing 23.2 innings out of the bullpen for the Trojans.

Martin-Grudzielanek led the way for USC, going 2-for-4 with a run scored. Lopez also scored two runs for the Trojans. The loss for Hammond brings him to 2-3 on the year, with a 5.17 ERA on the year. Head Coach Andy Stankiewicz seems to go with Sunday bullpen games, as Hammond has reached the fifth inning only twice this season.

Hoping to get back into the win column, the Trojans face off against a non-conference opponent in Cal State Northridge on Tuesday at home at Dedeaux Field. Then, the Trojans have a huge matchup against cross-town rival UCLA. 

The Bruins are 21-10-1, with an 8-5-1 in conference record, good for third in the conference. Earlier in the year, UCLA got the best of USC, as the Bruins won 5-3 in a matchup in the Southern California Baseball Classic. Senior third baseman Johnny Olmstead helped the Trojans have a chance in that game, going 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored. 

Look for the speedy Overn to get back on track this week, as he went 3-for-13 with a homerun and 6 strikeouts against the Beavers. He still leads the team with .342 batting average, with Gabrielson, the only other Trojan in the .300 club, hitting .312. 

USC comes back home to Dedeaux Field Tuesday with a non-conference matchup against Cal State Northridge at 6:30 p.m.