Pac-10 play isn't exactly going well for coach Chad Kreuter and the Trojans. USC is 2-6 through eight conference games, including blowout losses Friday and Saturday to California at Dedeaux Field.
Saturday, the Trojans fell 7-1 after the Bears scored three unearned runs in the fifth inning to break a scoreless tie. Friday, USC committed a season-high six errors and gave up 18 hits as Cal (18-10, 4-3) earned a 16-9 victory.
Defense has been the team's undoing. Sophomore righthander Ben Mount, who started Saturday, was solid through four innings, scattering three hits, but unraveled after the errors in the fifth and exited after recording one out in the seventh. His final line was 6 1/3 innings and seven runs — but only four earned.
USC's only run of Saturday's game came in the seventh inning, when junior infielder Joe De Pinto's RBI fielder's choice scored shortstop Adam Landecker from third.
Friday starter Kevin Couture had a nightmarish day on the mound, giving up nine runs (seven earned) in 2 1/3 innings. Kreuter was forced to turn to six relievers to eat up innings, but none found sustained success. Junior Chris Mezger, who had been USC's most effective reliever this season, gave up two runs while finishing out the third inning and pitching the fourth.
The Trojans had 14 hits Friday, with eight of nine starters recording at least one hit. Junior third baseman Matt Hart had three hits and an RBI, and sophomore first baseman Ricky Oropesa had a three-run homer in the first inning that helped stake USC out to a 4-1 lead. The Trojans did have one more big inning — a five-run seventh, sparked by a three-run homer from shortstop Taylor Wrenn — but it wasn't enough to unseat the Bears, who scored 13 unanswered runs between the first and seventh innings.
USC has one more shot at Cal — Sunday at 1 p.m. — before a big three-game series at No. 1 Arizona State next weekend.