Absent from the NCAA baseball playoffs since 2005, 12-time champion USC has been struggling to rid itself of mediocrity, and this weekend's three-game sweep of visiting Northwestern could be a step in the right direction.
Second-year Coach Dan Hubbs has loaded up on underclassmen, and many of them were major contributors.
On Sunday, in a 13-6 win over the Wildcats, sophomore infielder A.J. Ramirez went four for four with three runs batted in and sophomore outfielder Vahn Bozoian had a home run. Freshman catcher Jeremy Martinez had two hits Sunday to finish with five in three games.
The Trojans defeated Northwestern, 2-1 in 15 innings, on Saturday after beating the Wildcats in 11 innings, 4-3, on Friday.
Sophomore pitcher Nigel Nootbaar struck out eight in five innings Saturday.
Across town, defending NCAA champion UCLA defeated Portland, 4-3, on a game-winning hit by Shane Zeile in the 11th inning Sunday. Sophomore Ty Moore went four for four Sunday to help the Bruins take two of three games from the Pilots.