Baseball: Trojans heating up

Chalk another one up for USC.

Behind a strong start (seven innings, one run) from sophomore righthander Ben Mount, the Trojans powered past visiting Utah, 8-1, on Friday night in the first game of a three-game weekend series.

First baseman Ricky Oropesa led the USC offensive attack on the night, reaching base all four times he came to the plate and going two for two with two walks and three RBIs, including a run-scoring single in the third inning that gave the Trojans all the runs they would need on the night. Center fielder Mike O'Neill went three for four at the top of the lineup to serve as a table-setter, and right fielder Alex Sherrod came through with two RBIs out of the fifth spot.

Over the course of the season, Mount has developed from a candidate to start midweek contests into a significant weapon for USC as its presumptive Friday starter. The 6-foot-8, 210-pounder is the Trojans' certifiable go-to guy on the mound, with a 5-3 record and 3.16 ERA on the season.

Now, USC (21-24) will host Utah (19-22) at 3 p.m. Saturday as the Trojans attempt to stretch their winning streak to three games and five of their last six games.

Notes: In other news, USC right-hander Chris Mezger was named to the 2010 COSIDA/ESPN The Magazine District 8 Baseball All-Academic Team on Friday, becoming the first Trojan to earn such honors since 2002. Mezger, a junior, registered a 3.77 GPA as a linguistics major this year to go along with a team-leading 2.38 ERA and 4-0 record. ... USC fans are asked to arrive as late as possible for Saturday's 3 p.m. start due to the Revlon Run Walk scheduled to take place near the USC area.