Trojans’ offense explodes late to beat Seattle

USC scored six runs in the seventh and eighth inning Wednesday night to win its sixth game in its last seven.

Olmstead high fives teammates in the dugout.

USC baseball’s offense came alive on Wednesday night to beat Seattle 9-4, the Trojans’ fifth straight game with at least five runs scored. This offensive outburst has been typical for USC, as it has averaged more than seven runs scored per game through its first 20 contests.

USC welcomed Seattle to a murky and wet Dedeaux Field for a midweek baseball clash. Senior pitcher Blake Sodersten took the bump for the Trojans as they looked to stay hot before their weekend series against Pac-12 opponent Washington State.

“I don’t think it’s typical Southern California weather,” USC head coach Andy Stankiewicz said. “But that’s the mentality of baseball, when the umpire says ‘play ball’, you just have to go.”

USC utilized the slick field conditions immediately, as two Trojans reached base via bunt in the first due to some miscues by Seattle. Senior right fielder Cole Gabrielson made the Redhawks pay for their mistakes, driving a two-run double to give USC the early 2-0 lead.

“The guys had seen that we’ve got a wet surface tonight, and we’ve got some speed, so that was part of our game,” Stankiewicz said. “When we see opportunities to put bunts down … it’s about executing and putting pressure on the defense.”

After Sodersten pitched three scoreless innings of one-hit baseball, Seattle jumped on the Trojans’ bullpen, tying the game at two in the fourth. The Trojans’ bats grew quiet after the first, as they entered the bottom half of the sixth trailing 3-2.

“We scored two right out the gate, and everyone’s feeling good,” Stankiewicz said. “Then all of a sudden, we put a bunch of zeros up there, so we’ve got to be better … we can’t give at-bats away, especially in those middle innings.”

Tying the game at three in the sixth, USC knocked on the door in the seventh, loading the bases to start the inning with no one out. Senior third baseman Johnny Olmstead approached the dish and delivered for the Trojans with two strikes, roping a bases-clearing triple to the right-center gap. A sac fly from senior designated hitter Adrian Colon-Rosado drove in Olmstead and made it a four-run inning.

Freshman outfielder Austin Overn cranked his NCAA-leading ninth triple in the bottom of the eighth to spark two more runs for the Trojans, lengthening their lead to six runs.

“[Overn’s] speed is elite,” Stankiewicz said postgame. “If he can get on top of the ball and hit line drives into the gaps, the balls gonna skip and give him some good bounces to allow him to get more triples.”

The Trojans held on to win by a final score of 9-4. This marked USC’s sixth win in seven games, including key victories over Stanford, Cal Poly, and Cal Berkeley over that span.

“That was a good team win,” Stankiewicz said. “I’m encouraged by guys understanding their roles and understanding what they are supposed to do in that role and buying into it.”

USC will host conference opponent Washington State for a three-game series this weekend. The Trojans will look to improve upon their 4-2 record in Pac-12 play.

“I think the guys are starting to gain confidence in these moments and understanding it’s not about the opponent, it’s about playing good baseball,” Stankiewicz said.