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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

USC Baseball Kicks Off Conference Play With A Win

Paolo Uggetti |
March 13, 2015 | 8:57 p.m. PDT

Associate Sports Editor

The Trojan bats came alive on Friday night and gave USC a 10-2 victory over WSU. (Neon Tommy)
The Trojan bats came alive on Friday night and gave USC a 10-2 victory over WSU. (Neon Tommy)

After dropping a mid-week trap game to UC Irvine, USC Baseball (15-2, 0-0) got back on the winning track with a 10-2 victory over Washington St. (11-5, 0-0).

A relative offensive explosion took over Dedeaux Field, as the Trojans put up 14 hits and plated 10 runs in seven innings. All but two of the starters had a hit and five of eight drove in runs. 

Starter Brent Wheatley came into the game sporting a 1.54 ERA with 30 strikeouts across 23 innings, but though he had appeared in four games prior, the right hander had only accrued a lone win. 

Friday starts have become customary for Wheatley, as he had started every Friday game for the Trojans this season, but despite his low ERA, he had not been able to get his second win. Until this Friday's game, that is. 

The scoring got started early when Wheatley allowed a sac-fly to give the Cougars their first run. More could have come across the plate for WSU had it not been for LF Bobby Stahel who had a highlight grab in left and threw the ball in for a double play. 

The catch would be key in limiting runs when the Trojans came up to their at-bats. Stahel himself started the first-inning hitting with a single and a couple batters later, both Jeremy Martinez and Blake Lacey drove in the first two USC runs. 

Power was not necessary on this beautiful Friday night, as the only extra-base hit came courtesy of Reggie Southall in the second. But through a boatload of singles and great situational hitting, the Trojans scored runs in the first three innings. 

Though the hitting was abundant all over the lineup, the star of the night was Stahel, who was everywhere, both literally by making multiple diving grabs in left, and racking up four hits at the plate.

Wheatley's first-inning run turned out to be an aberration rather than a sign of things to come, as he went the next 3 without allowing a run, giving up only three hits and striking out six with his filthy curve. 

On a night where the strike zone seemed smaller than usual, Wheatley racked up an uncharacteristic three walks, but he did enough to limit the damage punching out 8 hitters in seven innings and relying on the great defense both behind the plate and behind his back. 

The starter did slip up in the fifth, allowing a second run, but it was unearned and in vain, as the Trojan offense did more than enough to give their pitcher his much-deserved second victory with their run support.

A bases-loaded 2-run double by CF Timmy Robinson clinched the victory for the Trojans, and though unnecessary, Lacey had his second RBI of the night via a sac fly to give USC the 7-2 lead.  

The Trojans continued the hitting into the seventh, loading up the bases yet again and driving in three more to hit double digits. After only scoring two in their second loss of the season, the offense was certainly not lacking in this one.

Through their 18th game of the season, nearly all in the lineup (8 of 9) have reached double-digit RBI totals and Robinson himself leads them all with 19 RBIs, including three in Friday's game. 

The high of their unreal three games against ranked opponents last weekend wore off wuickly with the loss, but the team showed great and fitting resiliency in their conference opener, effectively putting the loss behind them and focusing on the Pac-12. 

The Trojans will continue their three-game set with the Cougars tomorrow at Dedeaux Field at 6 PM again and Sunday at 3 PM. 

Reach Associate Sports Editor Paolo Uggetti here, or follow him on Twitter at @PaoloUggetti.



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