USC Baseball Heads to Cal, San Diego
THIS WEEK: The USC baseball team hits the road for a three-game Pac-12 set at Cal starting on Thursday this week. The Trojans then return to Southern California for a midweek matchup at San Diego on Tuesday next week.
Thursday - USC at Cal (Berkeley, Calif.), April 1, 6 p.m. (Cal Live Stream)
Friday - USC at Cal (Berkeley, Calif.), April 2, 3 p.m. (Cal Live Stream)
Saturday - USC at Cal (Berkeley, Calif.), April 3, 1 p.m. (Cal Live Stream)
Tuesday - USC at San Diego (San Diego, Calif.), April 6, 5 p.m. (USD Live Stream)
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS:
Thursday - USC: LHP Isaac Esqueda (2-1, 2.52 ERA) vs. CAL: RHP Aaron Roberts (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Friday - USC: RHP Chandler Champlain (1-2, 5.02 ERA) vs. CAL: RHP Grant Holman (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Saturday - USC: LHP Alex Cornwell (3-2, 4.99 ERA) vs. CAL: RHP Sean Sullivan (2-1, 4.45 ERA)
BROADCAST INFO: All three games at Cal will be streamed live on Pac-12+ via CalBears.com. Tuesday's game at San Diego will also be streamed on USDToreros.com. Links to all of the broadcasts are available on the baseball schedule page at USCTrojans.com.
FOLLOW: Fans can also follow the action through live stats on USCTrojans.com. Live, in-game updates will be available for all games from @USC_Baseball on Twitter as well.
GET SOCIAL: Follow USC Baseball on social media to get updates on everything going on with the team this season. The Trojans can be found at @USC_Baseball on Twitter, @sctrojans_baseball on Instagram and USC Trojans Baseball on Facebook.
MEDIA POLICY: Limited media members will be allowed to apply for credentials to USC baseball home games. Credentialed media members will only have access to a designated media area, and no in-person interviews will be allowed. All postgame and weekly interviews will be conducted virtually and upon request. Please contact Jacob Breems (Breems@usc.edu) for more media information and to apply for credentials.
LAST WEEK: The Trojans played a three-game home series against No. 10 UCLA last week, winning the opener before dropping the final two games. USC bounced back with a 4-3 win over LMU on Tuesday night in Westchester.
SERIES VS. CAL: USC leads the all-time series 237-146-2. The teams first played in 1923 and last played in 2019. The Trojans won two-of-three on the road in Berkeley in 2019 and also won two-of-three at home in 2018 to take four of the last six meetings.
SERIES VS. USD: USC leads the all-time series 20-6. USD won the meeting in Los Angeles earlier this year, coming back with two runs in the ninth to win 6-5. The teams first played in 1961 and before this year, last played in 2017.
RALLY VS. THE BRUINS: The Trojans made an improbable comeback against No. 10 UCLA in the series opener, scoring four runs in the bottom of the ninth to win 5-4 in walkoff fashion. John Thomas led the inning off with a single, then after two walks Tyler Pritchard drew a third walk to bring home Thomas. Jamal O'Guinn followed with a two-run, two-out single to tie the game, then a throwing error on a grounder to short allowed Pritchard to score the winning run.
ESQUEDA ACING THE TEST: Isaac Esqueda leads the Trojan rotation with a 2.52 ERA since taking over as the team's Friday starter this year. USC has won each of Esqueda's last three starts. His best start of the year helped the Trojans snap a three-game losing streak as the junior lefty tossed 7.0 innings against Nevada, giving up three hits and one run. Esqueda's 35 strikeouts in 35.2 innings pitched this year are both team highs.
CAREER WEEKEND FOR JT: John Thomas led the way for the Trojans in their sweep of Washington, earning himself Pac-12 Player of the Week honors. Thomas led USC at the plate, going 6-for-10 in the series and driving in a team-high six runs. The senior utility player had a career-best 5-for-5 day at the plate, with four RBI, in a 7-5 comeback win on Saturday. He then drove in the first two runs of the game with a double in Sunday's 11-3 finale victory. Thomas currently leads the team with a .333 batting average.
LEADING THE WAY: Jamal O'Guinn leads the Trojans in several statistical categories currently. His five homers, 19 RBI, 16 walks, .500 slugging percentage and .402 on-base percentage are all team bests. He has also been dialed in during crunch time, hitting a walkoff, two-run homer against Nevada and a game-tying two-run single in USC's walkoff win over UCLA. His five homers are sixth in the Pac-12.
RAINY COMEBACK: The Trojans made an impressive comeback on the road at Washington on Saturday, battling through two separate rain delays to overcome a 3-0 deficit. USC got a huge relief appearance from Garrett Clarke in the game, as the righty transfer tossed 5.0 scoreless innings to hold the line as USC battled back. Jamal O'Guinn and Ben Ramirez homered in the game, and John Thomas drove in the winning runs in the seventh.
CLEANING UP THE DEFENSE: A big part of USC winning eight of its last 11 games has been the drastically improved play in the field by the Trojans. USC committed 20 errors through its first nine games this year, but over the last 11 has committed only six. One stabilizing force has been the return of senior infielder Tyler Pritchard, who came back from a hamstring injury at the start of the Nevada series to take over at short.
Fewest BB/9 (pitching) - 3.09/game - 1st Pac-12, 21st NCAA
Walks - Jamal O'Guinn (16) - 7th Pac-12
Home Runs - Jamal O'Guinn (5) - 6th Pac-12
Sac Bunts - Rhylan Thomas (5) - 3rd Pac-12, 8th NCAA
Sac Bunts - Tyresse Turner (4) - 4th Pac-12, 22nd NCAA
Stolen Bases - Tyresse Turner (9) - 3rd Pac-12, 41st NCAA
Toughest to K - Rhylan Thomas (10.7 ab/k) - 2nd Pac-12
Triples - Ben Ramirez (2) - 4th Pac-12, 42nd NCAA
ERA - Isaac Esqueda (2.43) - 8th Pac-12
Saves - Ethan Hoopingarner (2) - 7th Pac-12
Saves - Nate Clow (2) - 7th Pac-12
Strikeouts - Isaac Esqueda (37) - 7th Pac-12
Wins - Alex Cornwell (3) - 3rd Pac-12
2021 SQUAD AT A GLANCE: The 2021 Trojans return 27 lettermen from last year, have three players coming off of redshirt seasons and have added 15 newcomers to the roster.
On the position player side, the most notable returning veterans are INF/OF Jamal O'Guinn (.378/.500/.564), 1B/DH Clay Owens (.346/.400/.577) and Ben Ramirez (.310/.375/.552). Another pair of underclassmen returners who impressed during the 15-game 2020 season are Rhylan Thomas (.356/.412/.422) and Tyresse Turner (.257/.372/.371, 6-6 SB).
On the pitching side, starters LHP Isaac Esqueda (0-1, 1.20 ERA) and LHP Alex Cornwell (2-1, 3.66 ERA) lead the charge, while RHP Chandler Champlain (1.23 ERA) looks to lock down a starting role as well. The Trojans had five relievers post sub-2.00 ERA's last year, losing just RHP/DH Ben Wanger of the group.
DRAFTED/SIGNED: The Trojans lost a pair of key players to the MLB last year. RHP Kyle Hurt was selected in the fifth round of the shortened 2020 MLB Draft by the Miami Marlins and chose to sign with the club. Hurt was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers this February. LHP John Beller was later snatched up in the undrafted free agent market by the St. Louis Cardinals.
LAST YEAR: The Trojans had their 2020 season cut short by the Covid-19 pandemic, finishing the year 10-5. During the abbreviated season, USC picked up signature wins over No. 2 and defending National Champs Vanderbilt and No. 22 TCU.
USC TO THE MLB: No other school can claim a larger number of alumni who have made it to the big leagues, with 116 Trojans having played in the MLB. The list includes three Trojans who have made it to the MLB Hall of Fame (Randy Johnson, Tom Seaver, Pat Gillick), nine Cy Young Awards (Johnson 5 times, Seaver 3 times, Barry Zito once), three Rookie of the Years (Seaver, Fred Lynn, Mark McGwire), one American League MVP (Lynn), one World Series MVP (Johnson), 29 World Series appearances and 67 All-Star Game appearances. In all, 341 Trojans have been selected in the MLB Draft.
CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: The Trojans have an unparalleled history of championship success at the College World Series, winning 12 total national titles (1948, 1958, 1961, 1963, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1978, 1998). The 12 titles are double any other team in the country and were won in 21 CWS appearances by the Trojans. USC won five straight NCAA Championships from 1970-74, a feat no other program has accomplished.