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USC Continues to Struggle on the Diamond

Sophomore First Baseman Ricky Oropesa has been the lone bright spot for a Trojan team ranked last in the Pac-10. <em>(Photocredit: Katelynn Whitaker, Daily Trojan)</em>
Sophomore First Baseman Ricky Oropesa has been the lone bright spot for a Trojan team ranked last in the Pac-10. (Photocredit: Katelynn Whitaker, Daily Trojan)

It's no secret that we don't cover USC baseball very often here at Conquest Chronicles. For one, college hardball simply doesn't resonate on the national level like football or basketball do. Even more so, the current USC team simply isn't the least bit relevant, remaining on a collision course for last place in the Pac-10 conference in 2010. And for the Trojans, who hold a sub-500 record at 17-23 on the year, it isn't getting any better.

On Tuesday, 'SC blew a 4-0 lead at UC Santa Barbara before falling to the Gauchos 5-4 in heartbreaking fashion by a score of 5-4 - their 9th loss in the past 11 games. To top it off, USC hasn't won consecutive games since March 21-26 against Pacific, Pepperdine and Stanford, and hasn't won a series since mid-March against Hawaii.

For a team that ranks 102nd in fielding percentage nationally, it will have to overcome a nearly insurmountable challenge if it's going to get back in the Pac-10 race. From Grant Tunkel of the Daily Trojan:

The 2010 college baseball regular season ends May 30 for USC. If the Trojans want to play ball in June, they'll have to find their stride and turn things around.

Doing so will not be easy.

USC (17-23, 3-12) is in last place in the conference, and eight games behind the leader, Arizona State. The Trojans have just 12 conference games remaining on their schedule to make up the deficit.

Tomorrow No. 17 Arizona comes to Dedeaux Field for a three-game series. The Wildcats are 28-11 on the season and 8-7 in the stacked Pac-10 conference.

Every game the Trojans plays for the rest of the season - 20 in all - will come against a team that currently has a winning overall record.

The Trojans have three conference series remaining after this weekend's games against Arizona. They play at No. 5 UCLA (30-7, 7-5) on May 14 to 16 and at Washington State (21-15, 5-7) on May 21 to 23.

USC closes the regular season at home against Washington (21-19, 5-7) on May 28 to 30.

That's going to be tough, and for a manager in Chad Kreuter looking to keep his job, the Trojans must have a strong finish. It's the only way he's going to stick around. But in the end, it seems more than likely that Kreuter will be joining the ranks of the unemployed with a sub-500 career mark at 100-108.

And for a program with 12 national championships, that type of performance over the past 4 seasons is flat out unacceptable. There is no reason that USC should be last place in the Pac-10 behind teams like Washington State and Oregon - a program that was just reinstated in 2009 after folding 26 years before. Changes have to be made. What changes? It's tough to say, but Mike Garrett should probably start by looking to send Kreuter packing.

Kreuter has often been quoted saying his teams have been misfortunate because of injuries, errors, and various miscues, but the same problems don't occur consistently over 4 years by chance. That's just bad baseball and bad coaching. And this season has been his worst year at the helm, when it technically should be his best if the program was headed in the right direction.

What makes things even more frustrating is the fact that UCLA, under former USC pitching coach John Savage, is ranked 5th nationally with a 29-7 record and UC Irvine, under former USC coach Mike Gillespie, is just outside the top 25 at 24-13. In terms of tradition, talent, and facilities, neither school is necessarily better than USC. The difference lies in the fact that both Gillespie and Savage know how to build program. It's just unfortunate that they're doing it in Irvine and Westwood, not at Dedeaux Field.