Baseball to compete in Tony Gwynn Classic event

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first_img“I said two weeks ago that I told the team we’re 14 deep offensively, and I think it’s up to about 16 right now where there’s 16 guys I could send up to the plate right now that have a ton of confidence,” Gill said after Friday’s opener. “And that number is continuing to grow. You know, we have 20 hitters.” “We have a really good defense,” Beller said. “So kind of what we’ve been preaching this year is just put the ball over the plate and let our defense work.” The Trojans put up a combined 35 runs on 41 hits in a season-opening series win over Western Michigan last weekend and received contributions from up and down the lineup. Head coach Jason Gill is hoping his team to keep the bats alive in San Diego. That staff received three solid outings from its starters last weekend. Those same starters, junior righty Kyle Hurt, junior lefty Isaac Esqueda and redshirt sophomore lefty Alex Cornwell, figure to start on the hill again this weekend, though Gill has not confirmed the rotation yet. SDSU brings three players with a significant number of at-bats, who have a batting average over .300 (including two in the .400 range) and an OPS over 1.000. This list doesn’t include senior outfielder Mike Jarvis, who went 2-for-4 with a double and a homer against Fullerton, so the Trojan pitching staff will have a lot on its plate Sunday. USC junior lefty John Beller said USC’s philosophy on the mound this season has been to pitch to contact and let the defense make the plays. Beller, who allowed just two hits and 1 run in five innings of work out of the bullpen Friday, and the Trojans will figure to use that same approach over the weekend.  “We feel like we’re pretty sound defensively,” Gill said. “If [the pitchers] are throwing strikes and putting the ball in play, we feel like we catch it behind them.” “We have to shore some things up in the bullpen, we’re walking too many people out of the bullpen,” Gill said after Trojan relievers allowed nine free passes in 13.1 innings in the series. “So I think we need to shore some of that up before next weekend.” The USC baseball team is gearing up for the Tony Gwynn Classic in San Diego, where the Trojans are scheduled to take on Seattle, Southern Illinois and San Diego State Friday through Sunday. The Trojans will need to control the strike zone if they want to slow Lively or any of their opponents this weekend, and Gill said after the WMU series that will be one of the main focuses this week in practice.  If the Trojans can bring solid pitching and strong defense into the weekend and against SDSU, they should be able to steal at least a couple of games — if not all three — in San Diego.  The Trojans will be greeted in San Diego by a Seattle team that struggled its way to a 13-39 record last season and dropped two of its first three games this year against Creighton. Still, the Trojans will be tested by senior infielder Austin Lively, who was placed on the watchlist for the Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award Tuesday, which is given to college baseball’s top hitter. Lively posted an impressive .298/.381/.426 slash line last season and should provide one of the Redhawks’ biggest threats to USC’s pitching staff.  The Trojans will wrap up the tournament with a tough showdown against San Diego State. The Aztecs will likely present the biggest challenge to USC this weekend as they enter the Classic fresh off an impressive win against No. 24 Cal State Fullerton.  Saturday, the Trojans will face off against a Southern Illinois team which already brings a 3-2 record to San Diego. SIU’s young season has been highlighted at the plate by senior infielders Nick Neville and Ian Walters. Neville carries an absurd .440 batting average and 1.040 OPS into the weekend while Walters falls just behind him with a still-impressive .389 average and 1.020 OPS. No other Saluki hitter with significant at-bats is within 100 points of those two in batting average or 250 points in OPS, so if the Trojans can stop those two, expect them to handle SIU. Despite the 8-4 win, SDSU committed a whopping six errors against Fullerton. This is out of 11 total errors through the season of just four games compared to three for USC.   Redshirt sophomore lefty Alex Cornwell allowed 2 runs in 5.2 innings Sunday after missing the last two seasons with injuries. (James Wolfe | Daily Trojan) The first two games will start at 1 p.m.; the first pitch Sunday will be at 2 p.m.last_img

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