first_imgWhy, you might ask, is USC playing two games at Cal State Fullerton this season, while the Titans only play one at Dedeaux Field? Seems a little unfair to the Trojans, doesn’t it? Why would USC would agree to that?Well, as it turns out, the reason for the discrepancy is that USC Assistant Coach Gabe Alvarez lost a coin flip with a Fullerton assistant while on a scouting trip in San Diego last winter.Control issues · Junior Sean Silva is one of the many USC pitchers who have struggled to throw strikes this year, with nine walks in 10.2 innings. –The game decided by the coin toss was actually the teams’ opener, played back on Feb. 15, but it comes around with bigger effect now, as the Trojans (12-19) travel to Goodwin Field for a second time this year to take on the No. 4 Titans (28-4) tonight at 6 p.m.Cal State Fullerton has lost just one time in the last calendar month, and by one run at that. The Titans always have a talented squad, but the consensus is that this is its most prolific in recent memory. They started off the season against USC ranked 22nd, climbed to No. 10 by the time the Trojans played them and have now cracked the top five.“It’s another great team,” USC head coach Dan Hubbs said of the Titans. “So we need to be able to have quality at-bats like we did on Saturday and Sunday, but we also need to be able to punch the runs across.”The Trojans totaled 27 hits in a three-game set against Stanford this weekend, including nine on Saturday and 11 on Sunday, but managed to put just 12 runs across the plate all weekend and dropped the series two games to one.Still, there is perhaps no stat that describes the Trojans’ struggles this year better than their discrepancy in walks taken compared to walks surrendered. USC has given up 146 free bases this year, twice as much as the 73 they have taken at the plate. Stanford, by comparison, has taken 93 and given up 69. Fullerton has taken an incredible 151 free bases.“It’s glaring,” Hubbs called the discrepancy. “Offensively, we’re trying to get things done so fast. We’re not allowing the game to come to us. You see the guys who have the most walks on our team — it’s because the game is slower for them at the plate.”The only players on the Trojan team this year with more than five walks at the plate are junior infielder Kevin Swick, sophomore catcher Garrett Stubbs and fifth-year senior outfielder Greg Zebrack, all among the most experienced hitters on the team.“They don’t have any fear of taking a pitch and waiting for the right one,” Hubbs said of his upperclassmen. “And they’re capable of fouling pitches off and waiting for the one to hit and putting that one in play. Our young guys, when they go up to the plate they don’t want to get deep into counts.”But the discrepancy is more than just about the youthful hitters. One hundred and forty-six is an inordinate amount of walks to give up, and the struggles on the mound can be traced back to youth as well.“We’re asking some of these guys to be juniors as freshman,” Hubbs said. “So they’re getting a lot of experience, but it’s unfair to them. A lot of them still have a ways to go. Because we’re a youthful team, we don’t have the depth in experience.”Indeed, the only two upperclassman to start even one game for the Trojans this year are juniors Bob Wheatley (who has started seven) and Sean Silva, a junior college transfer who made his first start last Friday after Wheatley was scratched. The Trojans have started freshman in close to half (14 of 31) of their games so far this year, with underclassman comprising 23 of the 31 starts.And it will be yet another freshman to start tonight for USC, as Sean Adler will get the ball against the Titans. If there was ever a time for a freshman to pitch like a junior, it would be on the road against the No. 4 team in the country.last_img read more