Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC Blog Contributor
Bob and Brent Wheatley have played baseball together for as long as they can remember. Now they're both starting pitchers at USC taking the idea of the Trojan Family quite literally.
At first glance the Wheatley brothers have a lot in common. They have both played baseball all their lives, both chose to attend USC, and both now are starting pitchers for the Trojans (Bob on Fridays and Brent on Tuesdays). They were both voted Trinity League Pitcher of the Year during their high school careers at Orange Lutheran (Bob in 2010, Brent in 2012), both received All-Trinity League honors, and both played quarterback at their alma mater.
But there's more than meets the eye with these siblings. Brent is a righty, while Bob throws left. Also, their personalities are different. According to Brent, the duo always has been.
"Bob is 'All Business Bob'. He's all business all the time. He knows when to be relaxed and have a good time too, but he's always looking to get himself better."
Brent, on the other hand, is the funny guy of the pair.
"Brent is hilarious, you can ask anybody on the team. He's one of the funniest guys on the planet in my opinion. He's always had a really big imagination and he has a really interesting sense of humor," says Bob.
Take this story for example. Brent was four, Bob was six, and the two were out on the golf course. Bob, being a helpful big brother, bends down to help set the golf ball on the tee. "Alright Brent, I'm going to put it down. Don't swing until I get out of the way," Bob instructs.
"So, he puts it down and a second later I swing, hit him in the face, and he has to get stitches," Brent explains and laughs. "I don't think I should say for sure whether it was on purpose or not but let's just go with an accident."
Accidents long behind them, both brothers have started off the season strong. Bob is 1-1 on the year. He's given up four runs in 18 innings pitched and struck out 10 of 66 batters. In all three of his starts, he has left the mound with the Trojans either tied or winning. On Friday against Fresno State, he notched his first win of the season pitching seven innings, allowing zero runs on six hits. Brent is 1-0 in two starts. He's given up one run in 11 innings pitched and tallied eight strike outs in 39 at bats.
The Wheatley boys have been Trojans their whole lives. Their father, Bob, played basketball at Troy and their mother was a USC Song Girl.
"It was something I always dreamed of, playing with my brother, and luckily we still have another year to play with each other. It's cool that it ended up working out this way," says Brent.
The younger brother says he's learned a lot about work ethic and mental preparation from watching Bob this season. And, although he's older, Bob says he's learned some things watching Brent too.
"One of the things that Brent has that is really special is a genuine, legitimate confidence in himself that isn't natural for a lot of freshmen. It's something that I try to emulate in my game," says the junior.
The 2013 Trojan squad is especially young, with 16 true freshmen on the roster, five of whom started in Sunday's game in Fresno. The brothers agree that even with a large underclassmen presence, the team is incredibly close.
"The upperclassmen talked about it at the beginning of the season," explains Bob. "We realized we would have sixteen freshmen, and that we were going to need them to play and play well. So from day one we wanted to help the team chemistry. Whether that meant hanging out outside of baseball or even just encouraging people on the field. I feel like this year there is a genuine buy-in and people really care about each other."
The Trojans are 6-5 so far this season and are headed into a tough stretch in which four of their next five opponents are ranked in the nation's top 25. Brent says he's impressed with the way the young team has played close with tough teams this far.
"We've really been in every game except for this last one. I think the fact that we are so young and we're still hanging in there, especially at the beginning when we're still getting used to playing college baseball. It shows that we're going to be good as we continue to go through our schedule," the freshman says.
The older Wheatley knows it's all about getting the pieces to click.
"It's about putting it all together. On Friday, I thought that was an example of what we are capable of as a team. We did everything really well. We pitched well, we scored a lot of runs, it was probably the best product we put on the field. We have the talent, it's just about making it happen," says Bob.
The younger Wheatley will most likely be starting this Wednesday when the Trojans take on No. 13 Cal State Fullerton at Dedeaux Field at 6 P.M.