Baseball defeats tough ranked teams at Dedeaux

first_imgThe deciding hit in Saturday’s game came off the bat of sophomore first baseman Clay Owens. With the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning, Owens worked a full count before rocketing a comebacker off the foot of junior righty Tyler Brown. The ball skidded into foul territory near the Vanderbilt dugout ­­­— an unlucky break for the Trojans on what would’ve likely been a 2-run single had it found its way up the middle.  Owens added a 2-run shot in the weekend finale, but it came after the Bruins had already put up 3 runs in the opening frame. It was one of just four hits for USC.  But that figure doesn’t tell even half the story for a Trojan team that preceded a loss to the Bruins with a pair of 2-1 statement wins over TCU and last year’s national champion Vanderbilt in the Southern California College Baseball Classic at Dedeaux Field.  Beller and Wanger made sure it didn’t matter.  Despite the loss, though, the Trojans will head into a Tuesday 6 p.m. home matchup against 5-9 Xavier with plenty of confidence after taking down one elite and one solid team over the weekend.  The Trojans did just enough at the plate to get the job done. Solid performances by juniors third baseman Jamal O’Guinn and shortstop Ben Ramirez on Friday and Saturday, respectively, helped the two combined for three RBI knocks and eight of USC’s 15 total hits in the pair of victories.  Whatever magic the Trojans had in the first two games, it didn’t seem to be there Sunday. UCLA made sure USC wouldn’t leave with a weekend sweep, piling on 15 runs and 19 hits in a 12-run thrashing.  Hurt bounced back from a tough three-inning, 5-run outing against Seton Hall a week prior by striking out nine batters and allowing just three hits on the evening.  Neither of the wins came without a little ninth-inning scare for USC, though. In both games, the visitors put the leadoff runner on and advanced him to third with two outs. In both games, graduate two-way player Ben Wanger kept him there. “All we’re trying to do every time we go out there is just earn some respect,” junior lefty John Beller told the Daily Trojan after Saturday’s win over Vanderbilt. “We get disrespected every year here at USC, and we’re just trying to go out there and prove some people wrong this year.”  Pitching was the formula for USC through the first two games of the weekend. Junior righty Kyle Hurt turned in six innings of 1-run ball against the Horned Frogs to kick off the weekend Friday.  “I think hitting’s gonna come and go, especially with the pitching staffs that we’re facing this weekend,” Gill told the Daily Trojan. “When you’re playing this caliber of baseball, you are going to be in 1-run games. The ball kind of fell for us today a little bit, and we got one more run than they did.” If the -10 run differential was all college baseball fans knew about the Trojans’ weekend against then-No. 22 TCU, No. 2 Vanderbilt and No. 6 UCLA, they would’ve thought the three-game set went as expected for the unranked USC team.  “I tend to just focus on my breathing,” Wanger told the Daily Trojan about the big situations. “Especially when we’re up against a really good team … Just focus on executing pitches.”  Redshirt sophomore lefty Alex Cornwell was tagged for seven hits in 4.1 innings, allowing 5 total runs — though only 2 were earned.  Beller put himself in a position to talk by hurling 8-plus innings against the defending champs. After allowing a leadoff blast to sophomore center fielder Tate Kolwyck on the game’s first pitch, Beller was in full control and only allowed one more hit the rest of the game.  Junior lefty John Beller leads USC’s starting rotation in ERA (1.12) and wins (three) in four appearances. (Peter Gastis | Daily Trojan) “I was just going out there and just throwing every pitch with intent,” Hurt said in a Twitter interview with USC Baseball after the game. “Just trusting my stuff, knowing that I’m just gonna get a ground ball and just get a strike or get an out. And that’s what I did the whole entire night.”  Beller has allowed just 1 run in his last 15-plus innings across two starts. “I’m feeling phenomenal,” Beller said. “Just trying to keep the ball down, work with all my pitches, let the defense work behind me. Not trying to do too much, stay in the zone … [Head coach Jason Gill] came out in the eighth inning and he said, ‘This is your game if you want it. There’s no reason I’m gonna take you out of this ballgame.’” Owens brought his season slugging percentage to .604, the highest of any Trojan with at least 10 at-bats. Of the 15 runs UCLA scored on the game, 9 were unearned. USC made five errors in the game.  “No one really has a lot of respect for us,” Hurt said in the same Friday interview. “So we’re just gonna keep proving people wrong and keep winning big games.”last_img


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