Pac-10 Title On The Line For Baseball
May 16, 2001
LOS ANGELES -- The No. 2 USC baseball team (37-16, 16-5 Pac-10) -- winner of 12 NCAA championships, more than twice as many as any other school -- will travel to Oregon State (30-22, 10-11) to finish the regular season. The Pac-10 series will begin on Friday (May 18) at 3 p.m. and continue on Saturday (May 19) and Sunday (May 20) with 1 p.m. starts for both games. USC is in first place in the Pac-10 Conference, two games ahead of Stanford. USC currently has an eight-game winning streak and has won 11 of its last 13 games, 18 of its last 23 and 22 of its last 28. All games will be broadcast live on www.usctrojans.com.
RANKINGS -- USC is ranked No. 1 in the latest Collegiate Baseball poll and No. 2 by Baseball America and ESPN/USA Today Baseball Weekly. Oregon State is not ranked in any polls.
TITLE RUN -- USC is looking for its first Pac-10 Conference title since 1996. The Trojans have a two-game lead in the standings ahead of Stanford. The Cardinal plays this weekend at Washington State. USC has won 35 conference championships and three under Head Coach Mike Gillespie (1991, 1995, 1996).
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.
TROJANS HOST NCAA FIRST-ROUND REGIONAL -- USC was selected to host the NCAA First-Round Regional on Friday (May 25) through Sunday (May 27). Sixteen sites were selected to host four-team regionals in the 64-team tournament. All-tournament passes are on sale now and can be purchased by calling the USC ticket office at (213) 740-GOSC (4672). Passes are $50 for all six (or seven) games for adults and $30 for children under 12. Single-session tickets will ONLY be available for purchase on the day of the game.
WEEKEND RECAP -- The Trojans went 4-0 for the week with a Pac-10 series sweep against Washington State at home and a non-conference win against Long Beach State. A five-run third inning proved to be the difference Tuesday as Head Coach Mike Gillespie registered his 600th win at USC in a 10-2 win against Long Beach State. USC got a strong performance on the mound from its four pitchers: Fraser Dizard, Chad Clark, Jordan Olson and Brian Bannister. Dizard struck out five in four innings of work. Clark and Olson threw two scoreless innings each while Bannister struck out the side in the ninth. Long Beach State looked to jump on the Trojans early when designated hitter Nick Covarrubias led off the game with a triple to right. He scored on a ground ball by Jeremy Reed for the 1-0 lead. Bobby Crosby doubled, but Dizard struck out Jeff Jones and Paul Macaluso to end the threat. The Trojans took the lead for good in the second when freshman Michael Moon hit a two-run shot to right, his third home run of the season. In the third, Anthony Lunetta started the scoring with an RBI single to score Abel Montanez. Bill Peavey walked to load the bases for Alberto Concepcion. Long Beach State pitcher Chad Bentz threw a wild pitch to score Brian Barre and catcher Bryan Kennedy allowed a passed ball to score Lunetta. Concepcion hit a triple to score Peavey and would finish the scoring when he stole home on a 2-2 count to Josh Persell. It was the second time this season that a Trojan has stolen home on a straight steal (Brian Barre on March 14 stole home in the bottom of the ninth to win the game, 4-3, against San Diego). MONDAY -- Sophomore pitcher Anthony Reyes threw his first complete game, striking out a career-high 12 batters Monday and the Trojans won, 5-1. USC got its first run in the first inning when Alberto Concepcion hit an RBI single to left, scoring Anthony Lunetta. Junior first baseman Bill Peavey, who went 3-for-3 on the afternoon, hit an RBI single in the third to score Brian Barre. Reyes at one point struck out the side twice, in the second and ninth innings, and allowed five hits and no walks. Washington State scored an unearned run when USC second baseman Rafael Torres botched a ground ball, scoring Justin Williams. The Trojans added three runs off Jamin Svendsen in the sixth on an RBI single by Michael Moon and two-run single by Torres. SUNDAY -- Senior pitcher Rik Currier threw his first solo shutout (third with two combined) of the season in a 7-0 win against the Cougars. Currier allowed only five hits and struck out a season-high 12 on the afternoon. With his strikeout of Justin Williams in the seventh, Currier set a new school and Pac-10 Conference record with his 421st career strikeout, surpassing the record of 420 held by Seth Etherton (USC). He now has 424 in his career. The Trojans got on the scoreboard with two unearned runs in the first against WSU. Junior center fielder Brian Barre reached on an error by second baseman Bookie Gates and Anthony Lunetta walked. On a double steal, the throw to third by Jon Baeder sailed over third base, allowing Barre to score. Alberto Concepcion hit a sacrifice fly to left, plating Lunetta for the Trojans' second run. Senior Josh Self hit an RBI triple in the fourth while Barre hit his team-leading 11th home run of the season with a solo shot in the seventh. Garrett Alwert picked up the loss for the Cougars, allowing six runs (four earned) on nine hits in seven innings of work. SATURDAY -- Freshman Fraser Dizard struck out Tyler Boston in the bottom of the ninth with runners on second and third to register his seventh save of the season as the Trojans held on for the 7-6 win against the Cougars. The Trojans had not played since April 30 as the university went through finals week. National Player of the Year candidate Mark Prior gave up six runs (four earned), but still struck out 12 and walked two (one intentionally) to improve to 13-1 on the season. The four earned runs were the most allowed by Prior this season as it was his shortest stint in a regular start since Feb. 23 vs. Mississippi State when he pitched only six innings. Prior had not pitched since April 27 vs. UCLA. He is a perfect 7-0 in Pac-10 play this season. USC opened the scoring with four runs in the first when Brian Barre led off with his 10th home run of the season on the first pitch from Tyson Thompson. It was the fourth time this season that Barre had led off with a home run. Washington State battled back with a run in the fourth and two runs in the fifth. Evan Hecker hit a two-run double to right in the fifth as part of a 3-for-5 day for the center fielder. With a 7-3 lead in the top of the seventh, the Cougars were able to touch up Prior for three runs. Justin Williams led off the inning with a solo shot to right, his sixth of the season. It was only the third home run allowed by Prior this season. With two outs, Hecker singled and Brent Robertson reached on an error by second baseman Rafael Torres. Bookie Gates hit a two-run double off the wall in left, making it a 7-6 USC lead. Stefan Bailie was intentionally walked and pinch-hitter Adrian Thomas grounded to first to end the inning. The Cougars rallied again in the final two innings. Washington State was able to get runners on first and third off USC reliever Brian Bannister. On a third-and-first pickoff move by Bannister, Williams was caught in a rundown between first and second. Tyson Boston tried to score from third, but was gunned down at the plate by first baseman Bill Peavey. Jon Baeder reached on a fielder's choice when Seth Davidson's throw to third bounced off Williams for runners at first and third. Dizard entered the game and struck out pinch-hitter Ryan Sullivan and got Hecker to fly out to center to end the threat in the eighth. The Cougars did it again in the ninth. On a 2-2 pitch with two outs, Bailie drilled a double off the wall in right and advanced to third on an infield single by Thomas. After a wild pitch moved Thomas to second, Dizard struck out Boston swinging to end the game.
OREGON STATE NOTES -- Oregon State is 30-22 on the season after losing two of three last weekend at UCLA, both in extra innings. The Beavers are batting .318 as a team and the pitching staff has a 6.05 ERA. Oregon State is 17-5 this season at home. Senior designated hitter Curtis Davis leads the team with a .406 batting average with two home runs and 26 RBI while sophomore Brian Barden has a .367 average with eight home runs and a team-leading 55 RBI. Saturday's scheduled starter Scott Nicholson is 10-2 on the season with a 3.85 ERA. In 121 2/3 innings, Nicholson had allowed 130 hits, struck out 69 and walked 21. Head Coach Pat Casey is in his seventh season at Oregon State. USC leads the all-time series with Oregon State by a 25-6 margin. The Trojans swept the Beavers last year at Dedeaux Field (12-1, 16-7, 16-3).
COACH'S CORNER -- Mike Gillespie, in his 15th season as the Trojans' head coach, has a 600-329-2 (.646) 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.
600 REASONS TO BE HAPPY -- Mike Gillespie recorded his 600th win at USC on May 15 with a 10-2 win against Long Beach State.
YOUNG (ALL) AMERICANS -- The Trojans have four 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. Prior with a strong season in 2001 is a leading candidate for National Player of the Year. Junior outfielder Brian Barre is having an outstanding season at the plate and in the field which should garner him some consideration for All-America status.
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. The Trojans registered their third season sweep against UCLA at Dedeaux Field (April 27-29). It was the first time that USC swept UCLA in a three-game series since 1996. The Trojans are 9-3 against the Bruins in the last two seasons as USC recorded a 5-1 record against UCLA this season. The fourth series sweep for the Trojans came against Washington State at Dedeaux Field (May 12-14). The Trojans got complete game efforts from Rik Currier and Anthony Reyes against the Cougars.
BEATING THE CHAMPS -- The schedule makers favored the Trojans when last year's Pac-10 tri-champions Arizona State, Stanford and UCLA traveled to Dedeaux Field this season for conference play. USC took advantage as the Trojans recorded a 7-2 record against the three schools.
ALL WE NEED IS PATIENCE -- Being patient at the plate has been a key so far this season for the Trojans. USC has walked 201 times this season and struck out 251 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 508 strikeouts in 479 2/3 innings this season. The school record by a Trojan pitching staff is 579, set by the 1998 club (589 innings). The Trojans' 508 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 185 batters. The lowest number of walks allowed in the last eight years for a season was 203 by the 1993 staff.
BACK IN BLACK -- Head Coach Mike Gillespie moved into the fashion industry this season when the team wore black caps for the first time in the history of the USC baseball program. The 'Black Sabbath' uniforms made their first appearance on Sunday (April 22) in a 9-5 loss against Stanford before the Trojans were able to record their first win with a 7-1 victory against UCLA on Sunday (April 29). The caps, which feature the SC logo in cardinal with a gold outline, coincide with the black sleeveless tops that the Trojans have worn for several years. The black uniforms were purchased by former Trojans Geoff Jenkins (Milwaukee Brewers) and Gabe Alvarez. Ironically, the Trojans recorded their win against UCLA on the same day that Jenkins tied a major league record with five home runs in two games.
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 -- Three 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 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.
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN -- The Trojans have utilized a seven-man pitching staff which includes arguably one of the top starting rotations in the nation: Mark Prior, Rik Currier and Anthony Reyes with Brian Bannister, Chad Clark, Fraser Dizard and Jordan Olson coming out of the bullpen. During the team's current eight-game winning streak, the seven pitchers have a combined 2.13 ERA. In 72 innings, the staff has allowed 61 hits (11 doubles, two triples, one home run), struck out 90 and allowed only 14 walks.
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. This season, he has produced numbers worthy of National Player of the Year consideration. 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 13-1 this season with a 1.34 ERA. In 107 2/3 innings this year, he has allowed 66 hits (only 10 extra-base hits with seven doubles and three home runs), struck out 149 and walked 12 with opponents batting .166 against him. He has also thrown only five wild pitches this season and has hit only four batters. Prior leads the Pac-10 Conference in victories, earned-run average, opponents' batting average and strikeouts. He is second in the nation in earned run average. He is third in the nation in strikeouts per nine innings (13.5) and is tied for second in the nation for most victories. This season, he has recorded 10 or more strikeouts in a game 10 times. He has recorded victories in his last eight appearences (six starts, one relief appearence) and has allowed only seven earned runs in his last 66 innings (35 H, 8 BB, 95 SO) for a 0.74 ERA. Dating back to March 3, Prior has struck out 118 batters and walked only nine batters in 81 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. He would throw his third straight complete game on April 27 vs. UCLA (2-0). Prior allowed six hits, striking out 14 and did not allow a walk. He would not pitch again until May 12 against Washington State. Despite giving up a season-high six runs (four earned) in a 7-6 win, he still struck out 12 batters and allowed only two walks. 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 W4/27 *vs. UCLA 9.0 6 0 0 0 14 W5/12 *vs. Washington St. 7.0 8 6 4 2 12 WTOTALS 107.2 66 22 16 14 161 13-1
RUNNING THROUGH THE 'PAC' -- The numbers for Mark Prior in Pac-10 Conference games are impressive to say the least. In seven games this season, Prior is 7-0 with a 0.90 ERA and five complete games. In 60 innings, he has allowed only 33 hits (four doubles, no triples, one home run), nine runs (six earned), six walks and has struck out 88 batters. Opponents are hitting .159 against Prior in conference play.
THE MAR'K' EXPRESS -- Mark Prior has been dominant early, especially in the strikeout department. He has 161 strikeouts in 107 2/3 innings this season with a 13.46 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.
AWESOME IN APRIL -- The month of April was even better for Mark Prior. In four starts (vs. No. 10 Arizona State, at California, vs. No. 1 Stanford and vs. UCLA) and one relief appearance on 4/3 at San Diego State, Prior was 5-0 with a 0.50 ERA. In 36 innings, he gave up 20 hits, two earned runs and struck out 48 batters while allowing only five 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 five 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 three straight conference honors again for his starts on April 12 at California, April 20 vs. No. 1 Stanford and April 27 vs. UCLA. 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. His fifth complete game in the Pac-10 came in a 2-0 win against the Bruins. Prior allowed six hits, struck out 14 and did not allow a walk.
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 10-1 with a 2.34 ERA and is 25-4 in his last two seasons. In 92 1/3 innings, he has allowed 83 hits and has struck out 95 while allowing only 30 walks. Opponents are hitting .238 against him. 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. On May 13 vs. Washington State, he threw his first solo shutout of the season in a five-hit performance. He struck out a season-high 12 batters and walked only one in a 7-0 win against the Cougars. 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.
IT'S GOOD TO BE THE 'K'ING -- Rik Currier became the school and Pac-10 Conference all-time leader for strikeouts on May 13 vs. Washington State, surpassing Seth Etherton (1995-98). In the seventh inning, he struck out Justin Williams for his 421st strikeout to set the record. He has 95 this season. 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.
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 23-2 with a 1.80 ERA. In 200 innings, the duo has allowed 149 hits, struck out 256 batters and walked 44. Opponents are batting .205 against them.
...AND IN THE PAC-10 CONFERENCE -- Mark Prior and Rik Currier have been just as dominant in Pac-10 Conference play. In six appearances this season, the duo are a combined 13-0 with a 1.55 ERA. In 110 1/3 innings, the pair has allowed 88 hits, struck out 136 and walked 23 batters. Pac-10 hitters are batting .216 against them.
KUDOS TO YOU, PART II -- Rik Currier earned his first Pac-10 Conference Pitcher of the Week nomination for his shutout performance on May 13 against Washington State. It was his first solo shutout of the season (he has also thrown two combined shutouts). He allowed only five hits, struck out a season-high 12 batters and allowed only one walk in a 7-0 win against the Cougars.
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.
RECORD BREAKER -- This season, senior shortstop Seth Davidson has set three school career records and shares a fourth record. After setting the school career mark for stolen bases on March 24 (see: To Catch A Thief), Seth Davidson set the second 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. On April 27 vs. UCLA, Davidson hit a solo home run for his 188th run scored to break another Proctor record (187). If Davidson hits another triple, he will own the school mark of 13, which he shares with Mark Smith (1989-91)
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 65 career stolen bases with 13 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).
KUDOS TO YOU, PART III -- 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/Pacifica HS) is having a strong season for the Trojans and is leading the team in most offensive categories, in most cases as the team's leadoff hitter. He is batting a team-leading .337 (63-for-189) and leads the team in home runs (12), RBI (46), slugging percentage (.572), on base percentage (.441) and stolen bases (18). He currently has a 14-game hitting streak, batting .423 (22-for-52) with six home runs and 14 RBI. Barre hit a home run in back-to-back games against Washington State on May 12 and 13 and against UCLA on April 28 and 29. He also 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 (60-for-199) with four home runs, 29 RBI and 11 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.
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 .313 on the season (57-for-182) with three home runs and 29 RBI. On April 24, 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.
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 .311 (56-for-180) with five home runs and 41 RBI. He went 6-for-10 (.600) with four runs scored during the Washington State series (May 12-14). 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.
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 .314 (58-for-185) on the season with three home runs, 27 RBI and 10 stolen bases. His two-run homer put the Trojans ahead on May 15 in 10-2 win against Long Beach State. 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.
PERSELL POWER -- Senior Josh Persell (Sherman Oaks/Montclair Prep) is batting .294 (55-for-187) with six home runs and 36 RBI. On April 30 at San Diego, Persell hit his sixth home run of the season on a shot that knocked out several light bulbs in the Cunningham Stadium scoreboard. 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 22 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 41 times by a pitch in his Trojans' career.
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 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 .423 (11-for-26) 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 13 triples needs one to pass Mark Smith for sole possession of first place.- Davidson with 45 doubles needs three to tie Jacque Jones and Morgan Ensberg for seventh place and four to tie Greg Walbridge for sixth place.- Rik Currier with 36 wins needs one to tie Seth Etherton for fourth place.- Mark Prior with 311 strikeouts needs five to tie Randy Flores for fourth place and 52 to tie Brent Strom for third place.Career records set this season:- Seth Davidson sets stolen base mark with 58th stolen bases, surpassing Mark Smith (57) on March 24 at Arizona. He now has 65 stolen bases.- Josh Persell sets hit by pitch mark by being hit for the 37th time, surpassing Brett Jenkins (36) on April 12 at California. He now has been hit by a pitch 41 times.- Seth Davidson sets hits mark with 283rd hit, surpassing Murph Proctor (282) on April 20 vs. Stanford. He now has 307 hits.- Seth Davidson sets runs scored mark with 188th run scored, surpassing Murph Proctor (187) on April 27 vs. UCLA. He now has 192 runs.- Rik Currier sets strikeout (and Pac-10 Conference) mark with 421nd strikeout, surpassing Seth Etherton (420) on May 13 vs. Washington State. He now has 424 strikeouts.
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.
TROJANS IN THE POSTSEASON -- USC has a 195-70 overall postseason record. The Trojans have played in 28 league, district or regional tournament at Dedeaux Field and have registered a 60-13 record in those games. The last regional held at Dedeaux Field was in 1999 when the Trojans defeated the Pepperdine Waves by a 12-7 margin in the regional final to advance to the Super Regional at Stanford (Stanford swept USC in two games).
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.