USC’s baseball team fell to 8-6 on the season this weekend after a less-than-stellar home stand that included three losses at home to Houston, Pepperdine and UCLA. It was a weekend full of missed opportunities in terms of advancing runners on base as well as key fielding mistakes, allowing the Trojans’ opponents to score more and more runs.
The weekend started out with a 6-1 loss to Houston on Friday, then a 10-4 loss to Pepperdine on Saturday and finally a close 6-5 loss to crosstown rival UCLA on Sunday.
USC head coach Dan Hubbs believes that each of these losses can be attributed to slightly different factors.
“I think Friday we just got beat in every facet by Houston, whose pitcher pitched fantastic, but that’s just kind of baseball,” Hubbs said. “Saturday we jumped out to a lead early on then couldn’t extend that lead and proceeded to give up a bunch of hits later in the game. Sunday we were in key positions but made huge errors. We just gave them too much.”
Despite this disappointing showing, Hubbs feels confident that the new week will present a fresh start for the Trojans and allow them to rekindle their winning streak.
“We’re in a little bit of a rut, but we just have to play clean baseball,” Hubbs said. “If we do that, we know we’ll win. There’s no doubt we should’ve beat UCLA Sunday. We just made too many mistakes on easy plays, but I know these guys won’t makes those same mistakes moving forward.”
The Trojans will kick off this week at home in a match against the 9-7 Loyola Marymount Lions tonight at 6 p.m. The Lions are on something of a hot streak at the moment, coming to USC’s Dedeaux Field fresh off seven straight wins.
Hubbs believes that if the Trojans can eliminate stolen bases from the speedy Lions, they stand a good chance at winning tonight.
“Loyola Marymount can really run, but one thing we’ve done really well so far this season is preventing a lot of stolen bases,” Hubbs said. “Since stealing bases is such a huge part of their game, I think we’ll be able to match up really well in that respect.”
Even though Loyola Marymount has played well recently, the Lions appear evenly matched with the Trojans. In terms of overall batting average, the Lions currently hold a .283 team average in comparison to the Trojans’ .288. USC’s pitching staff also currently boasts a slightly better ERA than Loyola Marymount, given the Trojans’ 3.00 ERA in comparison to the Lions’ 3.64.
Numbers aside, Hubbs predicts that the outcome of tonight’s game will depend heavily on the mindset and confidence of the players on both teams.
“It’s more about how you come out as opposed to how you match up,” Hubbs said. “Loyola Marymount has a good balance of right and left-handed pitchers and batters. They’re a talented team who can beat us and we’re more than capable of beating them. Whoever plays best will win the game.”
For tonight’s lineup, junior Garrett Stubbs will catch and freshman Jeremy Martinez will come in as the designated hitter.
Hubbs says that above all, the Trojans must deliver in the clutch if they want to break their four-game losing streak tonight.
“There just comes a point in time when a player needs to come through in a big spot, whether that be in terms of hitting, pitching or fielding,” Hubbs said. “We just have to do what we did during the first couple of games of the season, which is pitch well and play good defense.”
First pitch is set for 6 p.m. tonight. Next up for the Trojans is a trip north for a weekend series against Oregon.