USC's baseball team has not gotten off to the start it wanted, having lost its last two three-game sets to GCU and Arkansas (2-1). The team stands with a 4-7 record and following a loss this week to Loyola Marymount will look to get back on track in the annual "Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic.
USC will play host to Oklahoma State and No. 16-ranked Michigan before opening Pac-12 play against crosstown rival and No. 2-ranked UCLA at Dodger Stadium.
The series opening matchups provides as an immense opportunity for the Trojans to build some momentum heading into conference play, and impress scouts against quality opposition.
Although each team is only playing one game at Dodger Stadium in the actual "classic" on Sunday, the four participating schools have all arranged to play each other once before Sunday's finale.
A view of the field
The Trojans are the only team of the four participants that have won less than half of their games. Rival UCLA is competing for the top spot in national rankings, posting a 9-2 record, with both of their losses coming in tight, one-run games.
Michigan is sitting comfortably at 8-2, ranked 16th in d1baseball.com's most recent top 25. The Wolverines are led by ace Tommy Henry and junior outfielder Jordan Brewer. Henry has had an impressive start to his year, throwing a combined 23 scoreless innings over three starts, including one complete game shutout, and posting a 3-0 record.
While Oklahoma State has not had the level of success as UCLA or Michigan, the Cowboys certainly are not devoid of talent. The team had appeared in most top 25 polls this season up until a rough patch last week in which they dropped a three-game series to Iowa. At a 6-4 record after their first 10 games, the Cowboys are looking to match the success of last year's squad that tallied 31 wins on the season.
Keys to victory
The Trojans will be looking for significant contributions from their star trio of CJ Stubbs, Jamal O'Guinn and Matthew Acosta, who have combined for 23 RBI's and 11 doubles in 11 games. A bright spot for the Trojans has been their situational hitting with two of their wins coming via walk-off.
The Trojans will kick off the three-game event Friday at 6 p.m. at home against Oklahoma State.
If you go
What: Dodger Stadium Baseball Classic
Who: UCLA, Michigan, Oklahoma State and USC
Where: Dedeaux Field and Dodger Stadium
Full information can be found here.