Baseball prepares for ranked opponents

first_imgThe USC baseball team is looking to continue its winning streak today against the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos. The Trojans (12-0) kept their winning streak alive last weekend with a      three-game sweep against the Fordham University Rams (1-8).USC rallied for a couple of one-run victories on Friday and Saturday but completed the series sweep in dominant fashion on Sunday, defeating the Rams 10-1. The Trojans benefitted from an offensive outburst Sunday highlighted by a seven-run rally in the bottom of the fourth inning.The Trojans got big contributions from many different players, as redshirt junior outfield Bobby Stahel, senior catcher Garrett Stubbs and junior outfield Timmy Robinson combined to go 6-for-11 with six runs scored and two RBI. USC got on the board in the bottom of the first inning with a two-run rally but broke the game open in the bottom of the fourth.Senior second baseman Dante Flores tied his career-high with five RBI on the day, including a three-run home run to cap the Trojans’ seven-run outburst in the fourth.The most dominant performance of the day, however,  came from the other side of the ball. Freshman starter Mitch Hart impressed for the Trojans, tossing seven innings while allowing only one unearned run on two hits and a walk. Hart needed only 94 pitches through his seven innings of work to earn his second win of the season. Relief pitchers freshman Mason Perryman and sophomore Andrew Wright combined for the eighth and ninth innings to lock down USC’s 12th-straight win.The Trojans will travel to face the UCSB Gauchos (8-3) today as they look to extend their winning streak behind junior starting pitcher Tyler Gilbert. USC head coach Dan Hubbs said he’s excited about the winning streak but the team is focused on the games ahead.“I think the kids have really bought into the idea that we never know which game is going to be the one that knocks you out of playing in the postseason,” Hubbs said. “We were so close last year and maybe there was a game or two that we should have won that we didn’t, so we just make sure we keep up the energy and never take a day off.”UCSB is coming off a weekend in which it went 1-2 against the No. 12 Oregon Ducks. Though they dropped two out of three games against Oregon, the Gauchos might be riding a wave of momentum after they shut out the Ducks in the series finale on Sunday, 1-0.The Trojans will be put to the test against the Gauchos, who feature a strong duo in the middle of their order. Outfielder Cameron Newell (.425 batting average) and designated hitter Robby Nesovic (.432 batting average) have powered the UCSB offense thus far in the season, and shutting them down will be crucial to the Trojans’ success.“If you look at UCSB’s game against Pepperdine last week, [Newell and Nesovic] had big days and really gave them a chance to win,” Hubbs said. “Tyler is just going to need to be able to execute pitches, work the ball in and out and throw his off-speed pitches for strikes so that we can keep them off balance.”The USC baseball program has been projecting confidence all season long with strong playoff aspirations, but they will face their greatest challenge yet in a string of tough games coming up later this week.After facing a solid UCSB team tonight, the Trojans will prepare for the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic this weekend. With games against three nationally ranked teams in Vanderbilt, TCU and UCLA, USC will get its first real chance to prove it can compete with the elite programs in the country. Hubbs echoed that this week could be a big opportunity for the USC baseball program, but it will not necessarily make or break the rest of their season.“I don’t think [this week] is the be-all end-all, but I think we could make a statement to everybody,” Hubbs said. “We’re playing four quality opponents this week and I think it will be a good test for our guys, but we’re going to have to beat these kinds of quality teams [once league play starts] anyway.”last_img


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