Trojans crush Rainbows, 12-2
• Photo gallery: USC-Hawaii baseball Sunday
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
The University of Southern California pounded out 17 hits — including nine for extra bases — and routed Hawai'i, 12-2, yesterday afternoon in nonconference baseball action.
The victory before a crowd of 2,310 at Les Murakami Stadium gave the Trojans a 2-1 lead in the four-game series and improved their record to 8-8. The Rainbows fell to 7-8 with their second straight loss.
"We gotta get better in every phase," UH coach Mike Trapasso said. "It's that simple, nothing to really mull over. We just have to forget today When you get a whupping like that, it just goes back to our objective of keeping an even keel — don't get too high when you win or too low when you lose."
Unlike Friday and Saturday nights, the Rainbows could not ride their starting pitching into the late innings.
USC took a 2-0 lead in the second inning after an RBI double by Matt Hart and Kevin Roundtree's run-scoring groundout to second. Hawai'i cut its deficit in half on Kevin Macdonald's home run in the bottom of the frame, but the Trojans made it 4-1 in the third after Alex Glenn's sacrifice fly and Matt Foat's RBI double.
That ended a short outing for Rainbows starter Matt Sisto, who lasted only 2[0xb0] innings after giving up four earned runs on six hits.
"Matt hasn't pitched well, he hasn't had a good outing since the Oregon series (two weeks ago)," Trapasso said. "We need to figure out something quickly with him."
Kolten Wong's solo home run in the bottom half of the inning made it 4-2, but UH managed only three singles the rest of the game.
Southern Cal starter Kevin Couture went five innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits and three walks, and Chris Mezger and Logan Odom each added two innings of scoreless relief.
Since surrendering four runs in the eighth inning of Friday's 8-2 loss, the Trojans pitching staff has allowed just three runs in 19 innings. Couture said the staff took it as a challenge to turn things around Saturday.
"We needed a big start, and we got it from Ben (Mount), and today all I needed was to get some ground balls," said Couture, a senior right-hander who struck out two. "I knew I had my bullpen behind me to shut the door."
Couture, Mezger and Odom also got more than enough run support from an offense led by first baseman Ricky Oropesa (5 for 5, two doubles, two RBIs), left fielder Foat (3 for 5, double, home run, three RBIs) and second baseman Joe De Pinto (2 for 5, double, two RBIs).
Roundtree's solo home run made it 5-2 in the fourth, and a two-run double by De Pinto made it 7-2 in the sixth. USC stretched it to 8-2 in the seventh and added four runs in the eighth on Oropesa's two-run double and Foat's two-run homer.
The Rainbows, meanwhile, posed only one serious threat over the final six innings. Trailing 7-2 in the sixth, David Freitas led off with a walk and Collin Bennett followed with a single to left, but Macdonald struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch. The runners advanced on Pi'ikea Kitamura's groundout to first, but were stranded when Kevin Fujii struck out looking on a 2-2 pitch.
"We haven't really done anything offensively outside of that eighth inning on Friday," Trapasso said. "We haven't self-generated runs."
The series wraps up today with a 6:35 p.m. game. Trapasso said either junior right-hander Josh Slaats (1-0) or sophomore right-hander Connor Little (0-0) will get the start. The Trojans are expected to go with sophomore right-hander Chad Smith (0-2).
Slaats, who has a 0.52 earned run average in 17[0xb0] innings, was scheduled to start Friday's series opener but was scratched as a precaution due to tenderness in his arm during Wednesday's bullpen session.