First, they smacked us down in football. Then they beat us twice in basketball, once in the Pac-10 tournament. If there’s time for revenge, it’s now. The Bears open a 3 game set Friday at Evans Diamond, looking to continue their undefeated record in Pac-10 play.
This is not a series the Bears should drop. The Trojans have had a season long struggle, going 9-16 on the year and going 1-7 away from Los Angeles this year. They opened conference play by dropping 2 out 3 to UCLA, which isn’t necessarily terrible considering the Bruins are a solid club. With that being said, the Trojans are the “weak” team in a very tough Pac-10.
Offensively, USC is reliant on two players in Ricky Oropesa and Alex Sherrod. Oropesa is the best player on the squad, as the junior infielder has hit .357 this year with quality power. He’s been a starter since Day 1 at SC and was named to the Baseball America Preseason All-America First Team. Sherrod is the only other hitter above .300, and he does so as the Trojans home run leader. The outfielder has serious power but little plate patience. Beyond those two, USC finds problems. Kevin Roundtree has an OBP above .400 but no power, but other than that the offense is hapless. Going against the pitching staff with the third best pitching staff ERA wise in the country is not the cure to their problems.
Pitching is not as huge a problem. The starting staff is not terrible, although the top pitcher dwarfs the bottom. Logan Odom is a quality pitcher, throwing out a 3.31 ERA this year. Just for the record, that would place himself as the worst pitcher by ERA if he was on the Cal staff. The senior has made strides since his junior year, but he has seen some luck go in his favor this year. He has the body scouts covet at 6-6 240, although he doesn’t have the dominating stuff. Andrew Triggs will probably get the opening nod in the series. A junior who was drafted a year ago by the Indians, Triggs bring some serious heat from the right side (94-95). He’s a quality pitcher, and he’ll be a tough matchup for the Bear bats. Austin Wood has taken the long road to USC, going to Florida State and then a JC, but now he’s part of their rotation. Wood is just 1-4, but he throws in the high 90s. He has the talent, but his fastball doesn’t have great movement, and his slider and changeup are still works in progress. He’s dominated in summer leagues, but it has not translated to regular seasons, at USC, Florida State, or the junior college. The bullpen has been a solid unit, with Chad Smith and Matt Munson throwing quality innings.
Prediction: Cal takes the brooms out and sweeps the Trojans. USC just doesn’t have the bats, or the college polished arms.