Baseball Renews Cross-Town Rivalry This Weekend With UCLA
April 25, 2001
LOS ANGELES -- The No. 6 USC baseball team (29-16, 10-5 Pac-10) -- winner of 12 NCAA championships, more than twice as many as any other school -- will host the UCLA Bruins (25-17, 6-6) in a Pac-10 series, beginning on Friday (April 27) at 6 p.m. The series will continue on Saturday (April 28) and Sunday (April 29) with 1 p.m. starts for both games. Sunday's game will be broadcast on FOX Sports Net. The Trojans will then travel to the University of San Diego for a 2:30 p.m. game on Monday (April 30). All games will be broadcast live on www.usctrojans.com.
RANKINGS -- USC is ranked No. 6 in the latest Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball polls and No. 7 in the latest ESPN/USA Today Baseball Weekly poll. UCLA and San Diego are not ranked in any polls.
LAST WEEK -- The Trojans went 3-3 on the week, including a series win at home against No. 1 Stanford. The Trojans started the week with a 14-2 rout at UC Riverside, avenging an earlier 6-4 loss to the Highlanders on March 6 at Dedeaux Field. USC scored 10 runs in the first three innings and Chad Clark threw five scoreless innings. Brian Barre and Seth Davidson led the way with three hits each as the Trojans tied a season-high with 16 hits. In the Stanford series opener on Friday, Mark Prior threw his fourth complete game in five Pac-10 starts as the Trojans took the first game with a 2-1 win Friday against the Cardinal. Prior struck out 12 and walked only one to avenge his only loss of the season on March 9 at Stanford, a 2-0 loss against Jeremy Guthrie. Alberto Concepcion hit a solo shot to right center, his second of the season, on the first pitch by Guthrie to lead off the eighth inning for the game-winning run. Shortstop Seth Davidson recorded his 283rd career hit in the fourth, setting a school record. Davidson passed Murph Proctor (1988-91), who held the record with 282 career hits. Carlos Quentin hit an RBI double in the first to score the lone run for the Cardinal while Anthony Lunetta singled in Brian Barre in the fourth to tie the game. In Saturday's game, Rik Currier threw eight shutout innings as the Trojans defeated the Cardinal, 7-0, in front a national television audience. The Trojans scored two runs in the first and broke the game in the third on a three-run homer by Alberto Concepcion, his second in as many games. It was the first time that USC shut out Stanford since March 8, 1996, (8-0 at Dedeaux Field). The victory also snapped Stanford's streak of 17 consecutive series wins and 10 straight Pac-10 Conference series wins. Currier also registered his 400th career strikeout in the game. On Sunday, Stanford avoided the series sweep with a 9-5 win against the Trojans. The Cardinal rallied from a three-run deficit to score seven unanswered runs as Mike Gosling threw his first complete game. Coming off the weekend high, the Trojans played another game on Monday and lost to the University of San Francisco, 10-8, in a sloppy contest. The Trojans committed four errors as the pitching staff allowed nine walks and threw five wild pitches, two that scored runners from third base. USC lost its third straight game Tuesday with a 13-7 loss at Loyola Marymount. The win by the Lions snapped their 14-game losing streak as LMU won the season series with the Trojans. Tommy Perez went 3-for-4 with two home runs and a triple to lead the way for the Lions.
UCLA NOTES -- UCLA is 25-17 on the season and has lost five straight games, including a weekend sweep at Kansas State. The Bruins are batting .309 as a team and the pitching staff has a 4.55 ERA. Brian Baron is one of the top hitters in the nation, batting .480 (84-for-175) with two home runs and 36 RBI. Injuries have hampered the team as Paul Diaz (3-0, 4.13) is listed as the only starter (Friday) while Saturday and Sunday's starting pitcher will be announced at a later time. Head Coach Gary Adams is in his 27th season at UCLA. USC took two of three at UCLA earlier this season on Feb. 16-18 (3-4, 6-0 and 5-4 in 11 innings). USC leads the all-time series with UCLA by a 228-100 margin.
SAN DIEGO NOTES -- San Diego is 30-15 on the season and has won 13 of its last 16 games. Senior shortstop Josh Harris set a school record on Saturday against Loyola Marymount by hitting safely in his 20th consecutive game. He snapped the previous record of 19 games, held by John Mullen (1983). Head Coach Rich Hill is in his third season at San Diego. The Trojans defeated the Toreros, 4-3, on March 14 at Dedeaux Field when Brian Barre stole home in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. USC leads the all-time series with San Diego by an 11-2 margin.
COACH'S CORNER -- Mike Gillespie, in his 15th season as the Trojans' head coach, has a 592-329-2 (.642) career record and has led USC to the 1998 national championship, three conference titles (1991-95-96), 12 trips to the NCAA Regionals in 14 years (reaching the regional finals 10 times), and trips to the 1995, 1998 and 2000 College World Series (Troy finished as the nation's runner-up in 1995). He was named the 1998 National Coach of the Year, the Pac-10 Coach of the Year three times (1991-95-96) and the West Region Coach of the Year twice (1996-98). The starting leftfielder on USC's 1961 NCAA-winning team, he is one of just two men who have both coached and played on championship teams. Gillespie also was named by the United States Olympic Committee as the baseball coach of the year after serving as the head coach for the 2000 U.S. National Team, which posted a 27-3-1 record and the best winning percentage in club history.
CLOSING IN ON 600 -- Mike Gillespie needs eight victories to record his 600th win at USC. Gillespie registered his 500th win on March 30, 1999, in a 13-0 victory against San Diego State at Dedeaux Field.
YOUNG (ALL) AMERICANS -- The Trojans have three possible All-America candidates on the roster this season. Senior pitcher Rik Currier already has a couple of honors to his credit after earning Collegiate Baseball and The Sporting News All-America second team honors last season. Currier is a preseason All-America first teamer this season, according to Collegiate Baseball. Senior shortstop Seth Davidson was named to the 1999 All-America third team by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers' Association and was a Freshman All-America first teamer in 1998. Junior pitcher Mark Prior was selected this season as a preseason All-America second teamer by Collegiate Baseball and earned Freshman All-America second team honors while at Vanderbilt in 1998.
SWEEP OR BE SWEPT -- USC avenged getting swept last year at home by Houston by turning the tables on the host Cougars this year. The Trojans swept a doubleheader at Houston on March 3 (6-3, 7-3) and completed the series sweep on March 4 (4-3). A week later, however, the Trojans were swept by Stanford at Sunken Diamond. It was the first time since 1997 that Stanford swept a series against USC. In fact, Stanford swept both series at Sunken Diamond and Dedeaux Field in 1997. The Trojans added their second series sweep of the season at Arizona (March 23-25). USC is 19-2 in its last 21 games at Frank Sancet Field.
SCHEDULE CHANGES -- Two games have been added as a makeup for the two rained out Mississippi State games earlier this season. The Trojans lost at home to San Francisco on April 23 (10-8) and will host Long Beach State on Tuesday (May 15) at 5 p.m.
ALL WE NEED IS PATIENCE -- Being patient at the plate has been a key so far this season for the Trojans. USC has walked 175 times this season and struck out 219 times. The lowest number of strikeouts as a team in the past six years was 302 (1996).
STRIKE(OUT) A POSE -- USC pitchers have recorded 418 strikeouts in 407 2/3 innings this season. The school record by a Trojan pitching staff is 579, set by the 1998 club (589 innings). The Trojans' 418 strikeouts as a staff are the most in the Pac-10 Conference.
DON'T WALK ON BY -- Conversely, the USC pitching staff has walked only 171 batters. The lowest number of walks allowed in the last eight years for a season was 203 by the 1993 staff.
THREE OF A KIND -- This season, three Trojans have recorded streaks of hitting a home run in three straight games. Josh Persell is the latest member of the club with a home run in three games (3/25 at Arizona, 3/27 at Cal State Fullerton and 3/28 vs. San Diego State). Bill Peavey hit his home runs during the Washington series (3-17 through 3-19) while Anthony Lunetta hit home runs in the final two games of the series at Stanford on March 10 and 11 and on March 13 at UC Santa Barbara.
FEELING A DRAFT -- Four USC players were rated by Baseball America in the Top 100 College Prospects for the 2001 amateur baseball draft. Junior pitcher Mark Prior was rated No. 2, senior shortstop Seth Davidson was No. 89, junior rightfielder Rob Garibaldi was No. 91 and senior pitcher Rik Currier was No. 100. Prior, who was rated No. 2 overall, also received attention as having the best breaking ball of all college pitchers, being one of the closest to the majors and being one of the best two-way players. In a recent update, Prior has been moved to the No. 1 collegiate prospect in the nation. In the history of the USC baseball program, 244 players have been drafted by major league teams. In the last seven years, 45 Trojans have been drafted including 10 players who have made it to the major leagues: Aaron Boone, Geoff Jenkins, Gabe Alvarez, Brian Cooper, Jacque Jones, Chad Moeller, Seth Etherton, Morgan Ensberg, Eric Munson and Barry Zito.
PAC-10 PRESEASON POLL -- In a preseason poll of the Pac-10 coaches, USC was picked to win the conference title. In order, the poll went as follows: USC (six first-place votes), Arizona State (one first-place vote), Stanford (one first-place vote), Arizona, California, UCLA, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State.
PRIOR NOTICE -- Junior pitcher Mark Prior (Bonita/USD HS/Vanderbilt) is getting a lot of attention this season as many view him as a possible top five pick in this year's major league draft. The 6-5, 220-pound right-handed pitcher was named to the Collegiate Baseball Preseason All-America second team after he registered a 10-7 record with a 3.56 ERA last year. Prior is 11-1 this season with a 1.18 ERA. In 91 2/3 innings this year, he has allowed 52 hits (only seven extra-base hits with five doubles and two home runs), struck out 135 and walked 12 with opponents batting .164 against him. He has also thrown only four wild pitches this season and has hit three batters. Prior leads the Pac-10 Conference in victories, opponents' batting average and strikeouts. He is second in the conference and fourth in the nation in earned run average. He also leads the nation in strikeouts per nine innings (13.3) and is tied for first in the nation for most victories. This season, he has recorded 10 or more strikeouts in a game nine times. He has recorded victories in his last seven appearences (six starts, one relief appearence) and has allowed only three earned runs in 50 innings (21 H, 6 BB, 69 SO) for a 0.54 ERA. Dating back to March 3, Prior has struck out 92 batters and walked only seven batters in 65 1/3 innings. In his first start on Feb. 3 vs. Louisville, he allowed three hits in five innings of work, striking out 10 batters while not allowing a walk. At one point, Prior struck out five straight Cardinals en route to his first win of the season. He continued his strong start on Feb. 9 vs. No. 17 Long Beach State with another 10-strikeout performance. In 7 1/3 innings, Prior allowed two runs on four hits and struck out 10 batters while walking only one batter. Prior threw his third straight game with 10 or more strikeouts on Feb. 16 at UCLA with a 12-strikeout effort in seven innings (7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 12 SO). His streak was snapped on Feb. 23 vs. Mississippi State, but he still struck out nine in six innings. In the first game of a doubleheader at Houston on March 3, Prior struck out 10 and did not allow a walk in eight innings of work for his fourth victory of the season. Prior tied a career high by striking out 13 on March 9 at No. 10 Stanford (7 1/3 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 13 SO). The following week on March 17 at Washington, Prior pitched the 20th two-hitter at USC since 1976 with a complete game effort in the Trojans' 5-1 win. He struck out a career-high 14 batters and did not allow a walk for his fifth win of the season. He would set another career-high the following game on March 23 at Arizona when he struck out 15 batters and did not allow a walk in a three-hit shutout, his first of his career. Prior pitched five innings in a mid-week game on March 28 against San Diego State and gave up his first earned run in 21 1/3 consecutive innings. He pitched one inning in relief and recorded his eighth win of the season on April 3 at San Diego State (2-1 win in 10 innings) and added his ninth victory on April 6 vs. No. 10 Arizona State. Against ASU, Prior struck out seven in eight innings of work, allowing one run on seven hits. Prior threw his third complete game of the season on April 12 at California (1-0), throwing his second two-hitter of the season and striking out 14 batters with only one walk. He became only the second pitcher since 1976 to throw two solo two-hitters in a season (Barry Zito, now a member of the Oakland Athletics, in 1998). Prior avenged his only loss of the season with a win against No. 1 Stanford on April 20 at Dedeaux Field. He allowed one run on five hits in a 2-1 victory against Jeremy Guthrie, striking out 12 and allowing one walk. In 136 1/3 innings last year, he allowed 126 hits, struck out 150 batters (fourth-most in school history) and walked only 46 batters. His best performance came on June 3, 2000, when he pitched eight innings and allowed only one run on six hits at No. 1 Georgia Tech at the NCAA Super Regional. With the 6-3 win, the Trojans qualified for the College World season. On May 21 at Washington, he pushed an RBI bunt single to second base to cap the Trojans' three-run rally in the top of the ninth for a 4-3 win.
Prior Game-by-Game - 2001 SeasonDate Opponent IP H R ER BB SO W-L1/31 vs. Santa Clara 1.0 1 0 0 1 2 ND2/3 *vs. Louisville 5.0 3 0 0 0 10 W2/9 *at Long Beach St. 7.1 4 2 2 1 10 W2/16 *at UCLA 7.0 2 1 0 1 12 ND2/23 *vs. Mississippi St. 6.0 4 3 2 2 9 W3/3 *at Houston 8.0 9 3 3 0 10 W3/9 *at Stanford 7.1 8 2 2 1 13 L3/17 *at Washington 9.0 2 1 0 0 14 W3/23 *at Arizona 9.0 3 0 0 0 15 W3/28 *vs. San Diego State 5.0 2 2 1 1 6 W4/3 at San Diego State 1.0 0 0 0 1 1 W4/6 *vs. Arizona State 8.0 7 1 1 2 7 W4/12 *at California 9.0 2 0 0 1 14 W4/20 *vs. Stanford 9.0 5 1 1 1 12 WTOTALS 91.2 52 16 12 12 135 11-1
RUNNING THROUGH THE 'PAC' -- The numbers for Mark Prior in Pac-10 Conference games are impressive to say the least. In five games this season, Prior is 5-0 with a 0.41 ERA and four complete games. In 44 innings, he has allowed only 19 hits (two doubles, no triples, no home runs), three runs (two earned), four walks and has struck out 62 batters. Opponents are hitting .130 against Prior in conference play.
THE MAR'K' EXPRESS -- Mark Prior has been dominant early, especially in the strikeout department. He has 135 strikeouts in 91 2/3 innings this season with a 13.25 strikeouts per nine innings ratio. The school record is 12.62 strikeouts per nine innings, set by Rik Currier in 1998. The school and Pac-10 record for strikeouts in a season is 182, set by Seth Etherton in 1998.
ROARING THROUGH MARCH -- The month of March was very good to Mark Prior. In five starts (four on the road at Houston, Stanford, Washington and Arizona with the lone start at home against San Diego State), Prior was 4-1 with a 1.64 ERA. In 38 1/3 innings, he gave up 24 hits, seven earned runs and struck out 58 batters while allowing only two walks.
KUDOS TO YOU -- Mark Prior has received many accolades during the 2001 season. He has been named Pac-10 Conference Pitcher of the Week four times this season. He earned back-to-back awards for his performances on March 17 at Washington and March 23 at Arizona and also earned Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week honors for both games. He also was named as National Pitcher of the Week by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers' Association (March 17 at Washington and April 20 vs. No. 1 Stanford) and is the only two-time winner of that award this season. Prior threw a complete game and allowed two hits in a 5-1 win at Washington. The one run against him was unearned as Prior struck out 14 and did not allow a walk. He did one step better the following week in Tucson, throwing his first career shutout (8-0). Prior struck out a career-high 15 batters and did not allow a walk. He pitched to two batters over the minimum and threw only 18 balls in 103 pitches. Prior also did not allow a runner to reach second base. Prior earned back-to-back conference honors again for his starts on April 12 at California and April 20 vs. No. 1 Stanford. He threw a complete-game two-hitter on April 12 at California, striking out 14 and walking one batter in a 1-0 victory. At one point, Prior struck out five straight batters. He threw his fourth complete game in conference play in a 2-1 win against Stanford. He allowed one run on five hits, striking out 12 and walking one as he avenged his only loss of the season (March 9) against the Cardinal.
A CURRIER OF VICTORIES -- Senior Rik Currier (Dana Point/Capistrano Valley HS) is coming off his best season as a Trojan pitcher, which helped him to start the 2001 season on the Collegiate Baseball Preseason All-America first team. In 2001, Currier is 8-1 with a 2.08 ERA. In 78 innings, he has allowed 69 hits and has struck out 73 while allowing only 27 walks. Opponents are hitting .236 against him. He has allowed seven earned runs in his last 43 2/3 innings. At UCLA on Feb. 17, Currier threw eight shutout innings, striking out seven and allowing only two hits. He did not allow a runner to reach second base until the eighth inning. On Feb. 10 against No. 17 Long Beach State, he threw a three-hitter in seven innings of work with five strikeouts and no walks in the Trojans' 10-1 win. He threw four no-hit innings at San Diego State on April 3, striking out six. On April 6 vs. No. 10 Arizona State, he recorded the win (5-1) by allowing one run on eight hits in 7 1/3 innings. He struck out seven Arizona State batters. Currier combined with freshman Fraser Dizard again on April 21 with a 7-0 shutout against No. 1 Stanford. Against the Cardinal, Currier allowed only five hits in eight shutout innings. Last season, Rik Currier earned Pac-10 Conference Co-Pitcher of the Year, along with Stanford's Justin Wayne, and All-America second team honors by Collegiate Baseball and The Sporting News. He was USC's No. 2 pitcher in the rotation for most of the 2000 season, but moved up to the No. 1 spot on April 7 at UCLA when Mark Prior could not pitch due to flu symptoms (Currier remained the Friday pitcher for the rest of the season). He responded by pitching his second complete game of the season in the Trojans' 5-1 win over the Bruins. Currier allowed one run on five hits and struck out a season-high 12 batters while only walking two. For the 2000 season, Currier was 15-3 with a 3.31 ERA. In 125 innings of work, Currier allowed 116 hits, walked 56 and struck out 141 batters. He won 10 of his last 11 starts, including wins at No. 1 Georgia Tech in the NCAA Super Regional and against Florida State in the Trojans' opener at the College World Series.
'K'LIMBING UP THE CHARTS -- Rik Currier, with 141 strikeouts last year, is in second place on USC's all-time career list with 402 strikeouts. He has 73 this season and needs 18 to tie Seth Etherton (1995-98) for first. Currier struck out Stanford's Jason VanMeetren on April 21 to register his 400th career strikeout. He surpassed Brent Strom (1968-70) for second place on the list with a six-strikeout performance on March 10 at Stanford.
Career Strikeouts1. Seth Etherton, 1995-98 420*2. Rik Currier, 1998-00 402 *Pac-10 record
A PITCHING 1-2 PUNCH FOR THE SEASON... -- Mark Prior and Rik Currier have put up strong numbers so far in the 2001 season. Prior and Currier are a combined 19-2 with a 1.59 ERA. In 169 2/3 innings, the duo has allowed 121 hits, struck out 208 batters and walked 39. Opponents are batting .199 against them.
...AND IN THE PAC-10 CONFERENCE -- Mark Prior and Rik Currier have been just as dominant in Pac-10 Conference play. In five appearances this season, the duo are a combined 9-0 with a 1.01 ERA. In 80 innings, the pair has allowed 60 hits, struck out 88 and walked 14 batters. Pac-10 hitters are batting .208 against them.
CURRIER + DIZARD = SHUTOUT -- The combination of Rik Currier and freshman Fraser Dizard has produced two shutouts this season against Pac-10 teams. Currier threw eight shutout innings on Feb. 17 at UCLA (6-0) and April 21 vs. No. 1 Stanford (7-0) while Dizard mopped up in relief in the ninth in both games.
TO CATCH A THIEF -- Seth Davidson can now lay claim as the top career stolen base leader at USC. On March 24 at Arizona, Davidson tied Mark Smith (1989-91) for first place with his 57th career stolen base and on the following play, stole third to set the record with steal No. 58. Davidson currently has 64 career stolen bases with 12 so far in 2001. This season, he also surpassed Damon Buford (1988-90) and tied John Jackson (1987-90) for second place on Feb. 11 against Long Beach State. Last year, he tied the school record with 26 stolen bases in a season, first set by Aaron Boone (1994).
RECORD BREAKER -- After setting the school career mark for stolen bases, Seth Davidson set another mark on April 20 by recording his 283rd career hit. He broke the record held by Murph Proctor (1988-91), who had 282 with the Trojans. Davidson can break another Proctor record by scoring one more run to surpass his record of 187 career runs.
KUDOS TO YOU, PART II -- Seth Davidson was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for March 6 after going 7-for-14 (.500) with a triple and one RBI in three games at Houston. Davidson also registered two stolen bases, including stealing home in the second game of a doubleheader on March 3.
THE CRUSHER -- At only 5-8, junior Brian Barre (Garden Grove/Pacific HS) is having a strong season for the Trojans and is leading the team in most offensive categories. He is batting a team-leading .333 (52-for-156) and leads the team in home runs (7), RBI (40), slugging percentage (.519), on base percentage (.438) and stolen bases (17). He currently has a six-game hitting streak, batting .524 (11-for-21) with a home run and eight RBI. Barre went 3-for-3 with a double and two RBI on April 17 at UC Riverside and went 2-for-4 with a triple, home run and four RBI. He also became the first player to hit a grand slam since Jason Lane hit one against Arizona State on April 24, 1999. He hit the grand slam in the sixth inning on Feb. 3 vs. Louisville in the Trojans' 19-4 victory.
LUNAR ECLIPSE -- Sophomore second baseman Anthony Lunetta (Riverside/Arlington HS) is looking to build on last year's stellar freshman campaign. This year, Lunetta is batting .302 (52-for-172) with four home runs, 25 RBI and 10 stolen bases. He hit solo home runs in three straight games on March 10 and 11 at No. 10 Stanford and March 13 at UC Santa Barbara. Last year, he was third on the team with a .343 batting average (80-for-233) and was named Pac-10 Freshman/Newcomer of the Year. He led the team with 22 doubles. On June 2 at the NCAA Super Regional at No. 1 Georgia Tech, Lunetta hit two home runs in the Trojans' 7-2 win and hit two home runs in a 2-for-4 day with five RBI on April 1 at Arizona. On March 18 at Stanford, Lunetta hit three doubles in a 3-for-6 performance with four RBI in the Trojans' 11-7 win. He also belted two home runs in the Trojans 6-5 win over UC Santa Barbara on March 7 and went 4-for-5 in game two of a doubleheader on March 14 at San Diego. In his collegiate debut on Jan. 29 at Pepperdine, he went 5-for-5 at the plate.
OUT OF THE GATE -- Anthony Lunetta has done well in season openers, going 8-for-9 with two home runs and six RBI in two outings. This year against Santa Clara, Lunetta went 3-for-4 with a double, home run and four RBI while he went 5-for-5 last year at Pepperdine with a home run and two RBI.
BIG BILL FROM BRISBANE -- Senior first baseman Bill Peavey (Brisbane/Serra HS) has exploded at the plate in his final go-around with Troy. Peavey is batting .301 (46-for-153) with five home runs and 36 RBI. On Sunday (March 25) at Arizona, he hit his first career triple as part of a 6-for-12 (.500) weekend against the Wildcats. Peavey hit a home run in all three games of the Washington series. His first home run of the season came in timely fashion on Feb. 6 vs. No. 18 Cal State Fullerton when his solo shot tied the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the eighth. The Trojans would win the game, 6-5, in 13 innings. He also tied the game in the seventh inning on Feb. 18 at UCLA on an RBI single, leading the way for a 5-4 victory in 11 innings.
CATCH A RISING STAR -- Sophomore catcher Alberto Concepcion (El Segundo/El Segundo HS) has been hot at the plate lately for the Trojans. Concepcion is batting .309 on the season (47-for-152) with three home runs and 24 RBI. On Tuesday, his 10-game hitting streak (16-for-33) was snapped. He had a big weekend against No. 1 Stanford at Dedeaux Field. On Friday (April 20), Concepcion hit the game-winning home run off starter Jeremy Guthrie. His home run in the bottom of the eighth on Guthrie's first pitch to lead off the inning broke a 1-1 tie in the Trojans' 2-1 win. The following day on Saturday (April 21), he broke the game open with a three-run homer to right in a 7-0 win. He hit two doubles on April 22 against Stanford and recorded a double and triple against San Francisco on April 23.
PERSELL POWER -- Senior Josh Persell (Sherman Oaks/Montclair Prep) is batting .289 (46-for-159) with five home runs and 33 RBI. In the first game of a doubleheader at Houston on March 3, Persell hit a go-ahead, two-run blast to deep center in a 6-3 win against the Cougars. Last year, he was a power source during the Trojans' post-season run. In eight post-season games, Persell was 11-for-28 with four home runs (all solo home runs) and four RBI. He hit two solo home runs on June 2 at No. 1 Georgia Tech. He hit safely in 15 of his last 16 games. For the season, Persell was second on the team with a .351 batting average (67-for-191) with nine home runs and 40 RBI.
TAKING ONE FOR THE TEAM -- Josh Persell has set a painful school record. Persell has been hit by a pitch 21 times this season. He set the new record on April 12 when he was hit twice, surpassing the record of 16 held by Brett Jenkins (1991). The first time he was hit set a school season record and the second time in the game he was hit, Persell set the school career record. He passed Brett Jenkins (1989-91), who was hit 36 times during his career. Persell has been hit 40 times by a pitch in his Trojans' career.
MAN ON THE MOON -- Freshman Michael Moon (Alta Loma/Rancho Cucamonga HS) had the difficult task of replacing standout Justin Gemoll, who graduated last year, at third base. Moon, however, has shown that he is up to the task of playing at the hot corner. He is batting .304 (49-for-161) on the season with two home runs, 21 RBI and 10 stolen bases. His first collegiate home run, a two-run shot, tied the game in the sixth in the Trojans' 6-4 win on March 24 at Arizona.
MAINTAINING 'MO'MENTUM -- Sophomore Michael Morales (Anaheim/Loara HS) served as a team manager last year, similar to what teammate Abel Montanez did three years ago, but has made an early contribution to the 2001 squad. On Feb. 18 at UCLA, Morales hit a flare to right field in the top of the 11th for the game-winning hit in a 5-4 victory. Morales did not take batting practice, due to the rain-soaked field, and came into the game in the ninth as a pinch-runner for designated hitter Josh Persell. Morales hit a 2-2 pitch off UCLA closer Doug Silva. For the season, Morales is batting .444 (8-for-18) with five RBI.
WELL EXCUUUUUUUUUUSE ME -- Freshman Jon Brewster perhaps set an unofficial NCAA record when he was called out on batter's interference on consecutive at-bats on March 25 at Arizona. As the Trojans attempted hit-and-run plays with a runner on first, Brewster was called out both times for interfering with the catcher on his attempt to throw out the runner at second.
RAIN, RAIN GO AWAY -- Rain has played a major role early in the 2001 season for the Trojans. The 'streak' began on Saturday (Feb. 24) when the Trojans hosted Mississippi State. Both teams made the decision to play a doubleheader since heavy rains were forecast for Sunday (Feb. 25). Unfortunately, rain cancelled both games. San Diego was next on the schedule for Tuesday (Feb. 27), but rain cancelled that game and the immediate makeup date the following day (the game has been moved to Wednesday, March 14, at 5 p.m.). The opening game at Houston on Friday (March 2) was also cancelled due to rain which forced a doubleheader the next day, meaning the Trojans had been rained out in five straight possible game days.
AVOIDING HISTORY -- Anthony Lunetta's home run on March 10 at Stanford halted what would have been an ugly mark in the record books. After being shutout on March 9, the Trojans were in danger of being shut out in back-to-back games for just the third time in modern history. The two times it happened since 1921 was Feb. 19-20, 1982 (both games against Long Beach State) and during the 1968 season when the Trojans were shut out in three straight games. Ironically, the Trojans went on to win the 1968 national championship, starting a streak of six national titles in seven years.
CAREER MARKS -- Here are some updated numbers for USC players currently in the Top 20 lists:- Davidson with 187 runs scored needs one to pass Murph Proctor for first place.- Davidson with 43 doubles needs one to tie Jeff Cirillo for ninth place, five to tie Jacque Jones and Morgan Ensberg for seventh place.- Rik Currier with 34 wins needs one to tie Brent Strom for sixth place.- Currier with 402 strikeouts needs 18 to tie Seth Etherton for first place.- Mark Prior with 285 strikeouts needs one to tie Jim Barr for seventh place, three to tie Walt Peterson for sixth place.
OPERATION: OMAHA -- From 1948 to 1978, USC dominated the world of college baseball with 11 national championships in 17 appearances at the College World Series (the 1948 CWS was held in Kalamazoo, Mich., with the CWS moving to Omaha, Neb., in 1949). After the 1978 season, the Trojans went through a drought and did not return to Omaha until 1995, when Troy reached the national championship game. Since 1995, the Trojans have made three trips to Omaha in the last six years, winning it all in 1998. USC has the most wins (73) at the CWS and is second for most appearances (20) behind Texas.
PLAYING FOR THE U.S.A. -- Head Coach Mike Gillespie held similar duties last year with the United States National Team. USC pitchers Mark Prior and Anthony Reyes were on the team as well. Gillespie guided Team USA to a 27-3-1 record, posting the highest winning percentage (.900) in club history. The team reeled off a 21-game unbeaten streak at the end of the season, including capturing the Haarlem Honkbal Week championship in The Netherlands. Prior was the winning pitcher in the championship game against Cuba.
2000 SEASON RECAP -- After a 28-18 start, the Trojans used a 16-game winning streak to propel themselves to a 20th appearance at the College World Series. Despite going 1-2 at the CWS, USC shocked the college baseball world by sweeping No. 1 Georgia Tech in Atlanta in the NCAA Super Regional to earn its ticket to Omaha. The Trojans finished the season with a 44-20 record and a fourth-place finish in Pac-10 Conference play with a 16-8 record, one game behind tri-champions Arizona State, Stanford and UCLA. Pitcher Rik Currier earned Collegiate Baseball and The Sporting News second team All-America honors and was also named Pac-10 Conference Co-Pitcher of the Year. Third baseman Justin Gemoll earned Collegiate Baseball third team All-America honors while second baseman Anthony Lunetta was named Pac-10 Conference Freshman/Newcomer of the Year.
TEAM OF THE 20TH CENTURY -- No other university can match the collegiate baseball tradition of USC, and it showed when Baseball America awarded the Trojans the title of 'Greatest Program of the 20th Century' in its Feb. 1, 1999 issue. Troy has an unprecedented 12 NCAA championships (no other school has more than five), 36 conference titles and 20 College World Series appearances (second most in the nation). Legendary former coach Rod Dedeaux was named 'Coach of the Century' by both Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America. Trojan players have been named All-American first teamers 79 times, and 84 players have gone on to play in the majors, including such stars as Tom Seaver, Fred Lynn, Ron Fairly, Randy Johnson, Mark McGwire, Jeff Cirillo and Bret Boone.
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