Baseball Makes 21st Appearance At College World Series
June 4, 2001
LOS ANGELES -- The No. 2 USC baseball team (44-17, 18-6 Pac-10) -- winner of 12 NCAA championships, more than twice as many as any other school -- will make it 21st appearance at the College World Series (June 8-16) in Omaha, Neb., after sweeping Florida International by 5-1 and 6-0 scores at the NCAA Super Regional (June 1-2). It was the first time since Troy's 1978 national championship season that USC clinched a spot in the CWS at home. This is the fourth trip to the CWS for USC in the last seven years and the first time the Trojans have gone to Omaha in back-to-back years since the 1973 and 1974 back-to-back national championship seasons. The Trojans enter the CWS with a 15-1 record in their last 16 games. USC earned a No. 3 national seed in the NCAA Tournament after winning the Pac-10 Conference championship. All USC games will be broadcast live on KMPC 1540 AM with Rory Markas and Justin Dedeaux calling the action. Updated information on the College World Series can be accessed on the Internet at www.usctrojans.com or www.ncaabaseball.com.
RANKINGS -- USC is ranked No. 2 in the latest Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball and ESPN/USA Today Baseball Weekly polls.
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 four trips to Omaha in the last seven years (1995-1998-2000-2001), winning their 12th CWS title in 1998. USC has the most wins (73) at the CWS and is second for most appearances (21) behind Texas (27).
TROJANS IN THE POSTSEASON -- With the Super Regional-clinching win on June 2 against Florida International, the Trojans recorded their 200th postseason victory (the Trojans are 200-70). Troy has played in 29 league, district or regional tournaments at Dedeaux Field and has registered a 65-13 record in those games.
SUPER REGIONAL RECAP -- The Trojans swept the Florida International Golden Panthers at the NCAA Super Regional (June 1-2) at Dedeaux Field: SATURDAY -- Rik Currier threw his second complete game of the season to clinch a berth in the College World Series for the Trojans in a 6-0 shutout against the Golden Panthers. Currier scattered five hits, striking out 11 and walking only two batters. FIU starter William Collazo, who was 13-0 before the game, suffered his first loss of the season. Josh Persell walked to lead off the second and advanced to second on a single by Bill Peavey. Michael Moon sacrificed to move up the runners and Abel Montanez hit a sacrifice fly to right for the eventual game-winning run. Seth Davidson led off the third with his second home run of the season to left. Brian Barre doubled and would score later in the third on a sacrifice fly by Anthony Lunetta. The Trojans scored again in the sixth and added two in the seventh to complete the scoring in front of another standing-room-only crowd of 2,286 at Dedeaux Field. FRIDAY -- Anthony Lunetta's three-run homer in the fifth capped a four-run inning as the Trojans opened the weekend with a 5-1 win against the Golden Panthers. Mark Prior threw his sixth complete game of the season with a seven-hitter, striking out nine and not allowing a walk in a start for the seventh time. FIU jumped on the Trojans' No. 1 starter in the first when Matt Huntingford doubled to left and Hector Nunez singled to score Huntingford. Prior, though, would keep the Golden Panthers from scoring for the remainder of the game as catcher Alberto Concepcion threw out two runners in key situations. FIU starter Paul Zervas threw four scoreless innings until the fifth when right fielder Abel Montanez tied the game with a solo shot to right, his third homer of the season. With two outs and runners on the corners, Lunetta hit the first pitch from Zervas over the wall in left to put the Trojans ahead for good. Lunetta would walk with the bases loaded for his fourth RBI of the game in the sixth.
COACH'S CORNER -- Mike Gillespie, in his 15th season as the Trojans' head coach, has a 607-329-2 (.647) career record and has led USC to the 1998 national championship, four conference titles (1991, 1995, 1996, 2001), 13 trips to the NCAA Regionals in 15 years (reaching the regional finals 11 times), and trips to the 1995, 1998, 2000 and 2001 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 All-America candidates on the roster this season, including two who have already received honors. 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 has already earned Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Year and Collegiate Baseball and USA Today Baseball Weekly All-America first team honors. 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 and recently added Collegiate Baseball All-America third team honors for the 2001 season. 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 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.
MESSING WITH PERFECTION -- The Trojans had to face two pitchers in the postseason with perfect records, but USC prevailed both times. On May 25 against Oral Roberts, second team All-American Michael Rogers started the game with a 14-0, 2.05 ERA, but the Trojans knocked him out early as Rogers allowed a season-high seven runs in only three innings. Troy would win the game, 12-4, in the first game of the regional. On June 2 against Florida International, the Trojans handed William Collazo (13-0) his first loss of the season as USC clinched a spot in the College World Series with a 6-0 shutout.
RUNNING THE POSTSEASON TABLE -- The Trojans are 5-0 in postseason play this season. USC is batting .358 as a team and has outscored opponents by a 35-8 margin with a 62-39 advantage in hits. The Trojans' pitching staff has a 1.60 ERA in the postseason. In 45 innings, the staff has allowed 39 hits (nine doubles, no triples, no home runs), struck out 50 and walked only five.
ALL-REGIONAL HONORS -- Five Trojans were named on May 27 to the NCAA All-Regional Team. Third baseman Michael Moon, catcher Alberto Concepcion, pitcher Anthony Reyes, outfielder Brian Barre and right fielder Abel Montanez were named to the team while Moon received Most Outstanding Player honors.
ON A ROLL -- With a 6-0 whitewash loss at Oregon State on May 19 as the only blemish, the Trojans are 15-1 since April 27 when USC recorded the first of a three-game sweep against the UCLA Bruins. The Trojans have outscored their opponents by a 93-37 margin during that time and have a 15-3 advantage in home runs.
BEST DEFENSE -- USC has a .973 fielding percentage for the season and has committed only two errors in the postseason (.989).
ALL WE NEED IS PATIENCE -- Being patient at the plate has been a key so far this season for the Trojans. USC has walked 225 times this season and struck out 284 times. The lowest number of strikeouts as a team in the past six years was 302 (1996).
STRIKE(OUT) A POSE -- The 580 strikeouts on the season thrown by the USC pitching staff is a school record. The 2001 staff broke the record of 579, held by the 1998 club (589 innings) when Rik Currier struck out Daniel Bustamante to end the game on June 2 in the NCAA Super Regional. The Trojans have an opportunity to break the Pac-10 Conference record of 605, set by Stanford in 1999. USC has recorded 121 strikeouts in its last 12 games for a 10.08 strikeouts per game average, giving the Trojans more than a seven-to-one strikeouts-to-walks ratio.
DON'T WALK ON BY -- Conversely, the USC pitching staff has walked only 197 batters. The lowest number of walks allowed in the last eight years was 203 by the 1993 staff. The last time the Trojans walked more than three batters in a game was on April 30 at San Diego (four walks) as USC has walked a total of 17 batters in its last 12 games (1.42 walks per game average).
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. USC is 4-1 this season when wearing the black caps.
THE ROTATION OF POWER -- The Trojans' starting rotation of Mark Prior, Rik Currier and Anthony Reyes is arguably the best in the nation and has been particularly strong late in the season. During the Trojans' last 16 games where the team has a 15-1 record, the trio is 11-1 with a 1.92 ERA. In 108 innings, the three pitchers have allowed 96 hits (18 doubles, one triple, three home runs), 130 strikeouts and 20 walks.
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN -- The Trojans have utilized a seven-man pitching staff which includes arguably one of the top starting rotations in the nation: starters Mark Prior, Rik Currier and Anthony Reyes with Brian Bannister, Chad Clark, Fraser Dizard and Jordan Olson coming out of the bullpen. In the last 16 games where the Trojans have recorded a 15-1 record, the seven pitchers have a combined 1.88 ERA. In those last 144 innings, the staff has allowed 144 hits (23 doubles, two triples, three home runs), struck out 162 and allowed only 26 walks (6.23 strikeouts-to-walks ratio). During the NCAA First-Round Regional, the staff had a 2.33 ERA in three games, allowing only seven runs and striking out 30 batters with only three walks (including one intentional walk).
USC - THE SCHOOL FOR PITCHERS -- With Mark Prior being named as 2001 Pac-10 Conference Pitcher of the Year, a member of the Trojans' pitching staff has won the honor four consecutive years. Seth Etherton (now with the Cincinnati Reds) won the honor in 1998, Barry Zito (now with the Oakland Athletics) won in 1999 and current Trojan Rik Currier earned Co-Pitcher of the Year honors in 2000.
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.
TITLE RUN -- This season, USC won its first Pac-10 Conference title since 1996 with an 18-6 conference record, one game ahead of Stanford. USC has won 36 conference championships overall and four under Head Coach Mike Gillespie (1991, 1995, 1996, 2001).
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 top five pick in this year's major league draft. This season, Prior has been named Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Year, Collegiate Baseball and USA Today Baseball Weekly All-America first team and Pac-10 Conference Pitcher of the Year. 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 14-1 this season with a 1.50 ERA. In 131 2/3 innings this year, he has allowed 91 hits (only 17 extra-base hits with 13 doubles and four home runs), struck out 189 and walked just 17 with opponents batting .195 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 third in the nation in earned run average. This season, he has recorded 10 or more strikeouts in a game 12 times. He has recorded victories in 10 of his last 12 appearences (10 starts, one relief appearence) and has allowed 13 earned runs in his last 90 innings (60 H, 11 BB, 123 SO) for a 1.30 ERA. Dating back to March 3, Prior has struck out 146 batters and walked only 12 batters in 105 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. On May 26 against Pepperdine at the NCAA Regional, Prior allowed a season-high 11 hits, but still struck out 14 batters without allowing a walk in a no-decision (USC won, 4-3). Prior followed up with another stellar postseason effort on June 1 against Florida International at the NCAA Super Regional, allowing only one run on seven hits with nine strikeouts and no walks in a 5-1 victory. 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 W5/18 *at Oregon State 7.0 7 3 3 3 5 ND5/26 vs. Pepperdine 8.0 11 2 2 0 14 ND6/1 vs. Florida Int'l 9.0 7 1 1 0 9 WTOTALS 131.2 91 27 22 17 189 14-1
MARK PRIOR BREAKS PRIOR MARK -- On June 1 against Florida International in the NCAA Super Regional, Mark Prior set a new school and Pac-10 Conference record with his 183rd strikeout of the season. He broke the record of 182, held by former Trojan Seth Etherton in 1998, by striking out FIU's Matt Huntingford to end the sixth inning. Prior struck out nine in a 5-1 win against the Golden Panthers and now has 189 for the season. The NCAA record is 234 by Derek Tatsuno (Hawaii) in 1979. Tatsuno threw 174 1/3 innings while Prior has thrown 131 2/3 so far.
THE MAR'K' EXPRESS -- Mark Prior has been dominant, especially in the strikeout department. He has 189 strikeouts in 131 2/3 innings this season for a 12.92 strikeouts per nine innings ratio. The school record is 12.62 strikeouts per nine innings, set by Rik Currier in 1998.
NO FREE PASSES -- This season, Mark Prior has not only struck out a lot of batters, but also has not allowed many walks. In his no-decision against Pepperdine on May 26 at the NCAA Regional, he allowed a season-high 11 hits with just two runs, but he struck out 14 and did not allow a walk. Prior has not allowed a walk in seven starts this season (four nine-inning starts, two eight-inning and one five-inning for a total of 48 innings). In those seven starts that he has not allowed a walk, Prior has struck out 86 batters.
RUNNING THROUGH THE 'PAC' -- The numbers for Mark Prior in Pac-10 Conference games are impressive to say the least. In eight conference games this season, Prior was 7-0 with a 1.21 ERA and five complete games. In 67 innings, he allowed only 40 hits (six doubles, no triples, two home runs), 12 runs (nine earned), nine walks and has struck out 93 batters. Opponents hit .173 against Prior in conference play.
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 was named Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Year, becoming the first USC player to win the award since it was created in 1984, and also earned Pac-10 Conference Pitcher of the Year honors. He has also 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 and is finishing his career at USC in strong fashion, garnering Collegiate Baseball All-America third team and All-Pac-10 honors. He also earned Collegiate Baseball Preseason All-America first team honors. In 2001, Currier is 12-2 with a 2.39 ERA and is 27-5 in his last two seasons. In 113 innings this year, he has allowed 107 hits and has struck out 115 while allowing only 36 walks. Opponents are hitting .248 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. He recorded the win in a 12-4 decision on May 25 against Oral Roberts at the NCAA Regional, allowing four runs in five innings. He threw his second solo shutout of the season on June 2 against Florida International in a 6-0 to help USC clinch a berth in the College World Series. Currier allowed only five hits and struck out 11 with two walks to register his fourth career postseason win. 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.
Currier Game-by-Game - 2001 SeasonDate Opponent IP H R ER BB SO W-L1/31 vs. Santa Clara 2.0 0 0 0 0 3 W2/4 *vs. Louisville 6.0 4 2 2 3 6 ND2/10 *vs. Long Beach St. 7.0 3 1 1 0 5 W2/17 *at UCLA 8.0 2 0 0 2 7 W3/3 *at Houston 6.2 7 3 3 3 9 W3/10 *at Stanford 4.2 9 8 5 1 6 L3/14 vs. San Diego 1.2 2 0 0 0 3 ND3/19 *at Washington 6.2 9 5 0 2 5 ND3/24 *at Arizona 7.0 8 4 3 3 3 W3/28 vs. San Diego State 2.0 1 3 0 2 2 ND4/3 *at San Diego State 4.0 0 0 0 2 6 ND4/7 *vs. Arizona State 7.1 8 1 1 3 7 W4/13 *at California 7.0 11 3 3 2 6 W4/21 *vs. Stanford 8.0 5 0 0 4 5 W4/28 *vs. UCLA 5.1 9 6 6 2 10 W5/13 *vs. Washington St. 9.0 5 0 0 1 12 W5/19 *at Oregon State 6.2 12 6 2 1 5 L5/25 *vs. Oral Roberts 5.0 7 4 4 3 4 W6/2 *vs. Florida Internat'l 9.0 5 0 0 2 11 WTOTALS 113.0 107 46 30 36 115 12-2
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 115 this season and 444 for his career. Currier struck out Stanford's Jason VanMeetren on April 21 to register his 400th career strikeout.
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 26-3 with a 1.91 ERA. In 244 2/3 innings, the duo has allowed 198 hits, struck out 304 batters and walked 53. Opponents are batting .220 against them.
...AND IN THE PAC-10 CONFERENCE -- Mark Prior and Rik Currier were just as dominant in Pac-10 Conference play. In eight appearances this season, the duo was a combined 13-1 with a 1.74 ERA. In 124 innings, the pair allowed 107 hits, struck out 146 and walked 27 batters. Pac-10 hitters batted .232 against them.
KUDOS TO YOU, PART II -- Rik Currier earned his first Pac-10 Conference Pitcher of the Week honor 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. Currier has also thrown two solo shutouts this season on May 13 vs. Washington State and June 2 vs. Florida International.
A RAY OF SUNSHINE -- Sophomore Anthony Reyes (Whittier/California HS) has served as the Trojans' No. 3 starter for the season. Behind the tandem of Mark Prior and Rik Currier, he has gone almost unnoticed. Reyes, though, has made some noise in his last couple of starts. He is 4-0 in his last four starts with a 0.27 ERA. He has also allowed only two runs (one earned) in his last 33 innings. For the season, Reyes is 5-3 with a 3.42 ERA. In 102 2/3 innings, he has allowed 104 hits, struck out 92 and walked 22 with opponents hitting .270 against him. Reyes allowed only six hits in seven scoreless innings on May 20 at Oregon State. He threw his first complete game and struck out a career-high 12 batters on May 14 in a 5-1 win against Washington State at Dedeaux Field. He threw his second complete game in three starts on May 27 in his first solo shutout (8-0) against Fresno State at the NCAA Regional. He allowed only three hits, struck out 10 and did not allow a walk. For his efforts, he was named on the NCAA All-Regional Team. Reyes was a member of the 2000 USA National Team, along with Prior and Head Coach Mike Gillespie.
RECORD BREAKER -- This season, senior shortstop Seth Davidson has set four school career records and shares a fifth record. After setting the school career mark for stolen bases on March 24, 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 the Proctor record (187). He also has 946 career at-bats, breaking the old mark of 928 by Proctor. He now has 308 hits, 199 runs scored, 66 stolen bases and 946 at-bats in his career. If Davidson hits another triple, he will own outright the school mark, which he shares at 13 with Mark Smith (1989-91). Davidson is batting .322 (78-for-242) this season with two home runs, 26 RBI and 14 stolen bases. He is 9-for-17 (.529) in his last four games, including a solo home run on June 2 against Florida International at the NCAA Super Regional. He was named All-Pac-10 this season, the third time in his career he received that honor.
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 66 career stolen bases with 14 so far in 2001. 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. Barre earned All-Pac-10 honors this season for the first time in his career. He is batting a team-leading .338 (74-for-219) and leads the team in home runs (12), slugging percentage (.548), on base percentage (.440) and stolen bases (18). He is tied for the team lead in RBI (46) with Bill Peavey. He had his season-high 16-game hitting streak snapped on May 20 at Oregon State. 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.
CARRYING THE BANNER -- Sophomore Brian Bannister (Paradise Valley, Ariz./Chaparral HS) has had an up and down season, but has been virtually untouchable as of late for the Trojans. Out of the bullpen, the 6-0 right-hander has not allowed a run in his last 14 1/3 innings. He has allowed seven hits, no walks and struck out 14 since April 28 vs. UCLA. After allowing three runs on March 27 at Cal State Fullerton, Bannister had put up strong numbers in the months of April and May. He is 2-0 with a 1.40 ERA and three saves during that time. In 23 1/3 innings, he has allowed 15 hits with eight walks and 23 strikeouts since March 27. He is 4-4 on the season with a 2.90 ERA. On May 18 at Oregon State, he registered three perfect innings for the win in the Trojans' 7-3 victory in 10 innings agains the Beavers. He struck out a season-high five batters and allowed only one hit in 3 2/3 innings on Feb. 6 vs. Cal State Fullerton.
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 .318 (68-for-214) on the season with five home runs, 33 RBI and 11 stolen bases. Moon went 7-for-13 (.538) with a triple, home run and five RBI at the NCAA Regional to earn Most Outstanding Player honors. He also stole home during the regional on May 25 vs. Oral Roberts. 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.
MOON OVER PARKING STRUCTURE B -- Michael Moon delivered one of the most electrifying moments in the history of Dedeaux Field on May 26 during the NCAA Regional. Down 3-2 against Pepperdine with a runner at first, Moon hit a 1-2 pitch from Noah Lowry over the right field wall for the game-winner to cap a three-run rally in the bottom of the ninth.
LUCKY SEVEN -- The Trojans are 17-0 this season when Michael Moon is batting in the number seven spot in the batting order. Moon was batting seventh when he hit the game-winning home run against Pepperdine on May 26 at Dedeaux Field.
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 .321 on the season (68-for-212) with four home runs and 35 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 -- Junior first baseman Bill Peavey (Brisbane/Serra HS) has exploded at the plate in his best season with Troy. Peavey is batting .308 (64-for-208) with five home runs and 46 RBI. He is tied for the team lead in RBI with teammate Brian Barre. 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.
LUNAR ECLIPSE -- Sophomore second baseman Anthony Lunetta (Riverside/Arlington HS) is looking continue his strong career at USC and has show an affinity for clutch performances in the postseason. This year, Lunetta is batting .294 (67-for-228) with five home runs, 37 RBI and 12 stolen bases. His three-run homer and four RBI performance paced a 5-1 win against Florida International on June 1 at the NCAA Super Regional. He doubled and scored in a 1-0 win on May 20 at Oregon State which helped clinch the Pac-10 Conference title for the Trojans. 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.
PERSELL POWER -- Senior Josh Persell (Sherman Oaks/Montclair Prep) is batting .301 (66-for-219) with six home runs and 37 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 24 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 43 times by a pitch in his Trojans' career.
READY AND ABEL -- Senior Abel Montanez (Montebello/Bishop Amat HS), who was a team manager in 1998, did not make a start last year until April 25 at UC Santa Barbara and then did not leave the starting lineup for the remainder of the season. This season, he has been a valuable player off the bench and recently has made his way back into the starting lineup to give another boost for the Trojans. He tied the game with an opposite-field home run on June 1 against Florida International in a 5-1 win as the Trojans would add three more runs in the inning. On May 26 vs. Pepperdine at the NCAA First-Round Regional, he threw out two runners at the plate in a 4-3 win and followed that the next day with his second home run of the season. He was named to the NCAA All-Tournament team, the second straight year he received the honor. Last year, Montanez went 7-for-10 (.700), including a pivotal home run (the first of his career) on May 28 vs. Cal State Fullerton in the three-game NCAA Regional to earn a spot on the All-Tournament team.
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 .407 (11-for-27) 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 37 wins needs one to tie Randy Powers for third place.- Mark Prior with 330 strikeouts needs 33 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 43 times.- Seth Davidson sets hits mark with 283rd hit, surpassing Murph Proctor (282) on April 20 vs. Stanford. He now has 304 hits.- Seth Davidson sets runs scored mark with 188th run scored, surpassing Murph Proctor (187) on April 27 vs. UCLA. He now has 195 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 433 strikeouts.
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.
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.
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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