Stanford baseball (20-26) will head to Los Angeles this weekend to take on USC (32-15) in a three-game conference series. The Cardinal currently sit in the bottom of the Pac-12 standings with a 6-15 conference record, while the Trojans sit in fourth place with a 13-8 record.
Only nine conference games remain in the regular season, which places heavy emphasis on this weekend’s series for the Trojans. If USC plans on making a run at Pac-12 leader UCLA in the closing stretch, then the Trojans must pick up a series win over the Cardinal. Although Stanford is no longer competing for a postseason berth, a strong close to the season would bode well for this young squad.
Both teams are coming off tough extra-inning losses and will look to bounce back in the upcoming games. Stanford is coming off a 1-0, 10-inning loss Tuesday night to Santa Clara — a game that featured dominant pitching but lackluster hitting. Similarly, USC has faced extra inning struggles as of late, having dropped its last two games in 10-inning contests. On Tuesday night, the No. 15 Trojans were in position to secure a win over UC Irvine, but a costly error in the ninth inning brought in the tying run. A 3-run home run by Irvine in the following inning would eventually put USC to rest, resulting in 8-5 Trojan defeat.
The Stanford offense hopes to return to form this weekend, having been shutout Tuesday night for the fourth time this season. Junior Zach Hoffpauir has been tearing up conference play with a .362 average, three homers and 14 RBI’s, and he hopes to continue his success at the plate this weekend. The Cardinal will also need continued production from Tommy Edman, who leads the team with 39 runs this season, as well as Drew Jackson, who has provided a steady presence atop the Cardinal lineup since returning from injury.
Stanford pitching will have its hands full this weekend against a potent USC offense, which features three hitters batting over .300 on the season. Leadoff man Bobby Stahel leads the Trojans with a .393 average and a .545 slugging percentage, and he forms a dynamic duo with first baseman AJ Ramirez, who has recorded seven home runs for the season.
First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m Friday night. The game will be aired live on the Pac-12 Networks.
Contact Michael Woo at mtwoo ‘at’ stanford.edu.