Baseball Closes Out 22-Game Road Trip
March 11, 2002
LOS ANGELES - The USC baseball team (8-9) - winner of 12 NCAA championships, more than twice as many as any other school - will play five more road games beginning on Wednesday. USC will complete a stretch of playing the first 22 games of the season on the road, due to a $4 million construction project at Dedeaux Field. The Trojans will play No. 20 San Diego on Wednesday (March 13) at 2 p.m., Pepperdine on Saturday (March 16) and Sunday (March 17) at 1 p.m. for both games, San Diego State on Monday (March 18) at 6 p.m. and Loyola Marymount on Tuesday (March 19) at 2 p.m. Loyola Marymount represents the 13th different opponent that USC has faced in 14 games.
RANKINGS - San Diego is No. 20 in the latest Baseball America poll. USC, Pepperdine, San Diego State and Loyola Marymount are not ranked in any polls.
SAN DIEGO NOTES - No. 20 San Diego is 18-4 on the season after taking two of three last weekend at San Francisco. San Diego opened the season with a school-record 10 straight victories. Head Coach Rich Hill is 115-79-2 in his fourth season at San Diego. The Toreros are batting .314 as a team while its pitching staff has a 3.87 ERA. Ben Quinto is batting .390 with 12 RBI and four stolen bases. Tom Caple is 4-0 with a 1.18 ERA and two saves (38 IP, 27 H, 9 BB, 44 SO). USC leads the all-time series with San Diego by a 12-2 margin.
PEPPERDINE NOTES - Pepperdine is 11-13 on the season after losing two of three last weekend against Gonzaga. Head Coach Frank Sanchez is 201-117 in his sixth season at Pepperdine. The Waves are batting .282 as a team while its pitching staff has a 5.28 ERA. Duke Sardinha is batting .330 with three home runs and 13 RBI. Jacob Barrack is 3-1 with a 1.86 ERA and three saves (29 IP, 24 H, 10 BB, 28 SO). USC leads the all-time series with Pepperdine by a 76-28-1 margin.
SAN DIEGO STATE NOTES - San Diego State is 16-7 on the season after taking two of three last weekend against UC Irvine. Head Coach Jim Dietz is 1,204-729-18 in his 31st and final season at San Diego State. Dietz is retiring and will be replaced by future Hall-of-Famer and SDSU grad Tony Gwynn. The Aztecs are batting .313 while its pitching staff has a 3.43 ERA. Sophomore third baseman Chad Corona is batting .364 with four home runs and 13 RBI. Closer Royce Ring is 1-0 with seven saves. Ring has not allowed a run in 11 innings and has allowed three walks with 18 strikeouts. USC leads the all-time series with San Diego State by a 53-21-3 margin.
LOYOLA MARYMOUNT NOTES - Loyola Marymount is 6-14 on the season after losing two of three last weekend at Mississippi State. Head Coach Frank Cruz is 155-160-1 in his sixth season at Loyola Marymount. The Lions are batting .238 as a team while its pitching staff has a 7.07 ERA. Kris Zacuto is batting .312 with two home runs and 15 RBI. USC leads the all-time series with Loyola Marymount by a 112-17-1 margin.
LAST WEEK - The Trojans went 2-2 last week after losing in a midweek game at UC Irvine and winning two of three at the Express College Classic in Round Rock, Texas. MARCH 10 VS. CREIGHTON - USC jumped out to an early lead and did not look back in the 7-3 win against Creighton. Jon Williams recorded the win with 5 1/3 innings of relief, allowing just one run on five hits. Bill Peavey hit his third homer of the season with a two-run dinger in the seventh. Brian Barre went 3-for-4 in the leadoff spot. MARCH 9 VS. NOTRE DAME - No. 12 Notre Dame scored two in the eighth and six in the ninth to rally for the 15-8 win against the Trojans. USC committed a season-high six errors in a bizarre game that was suspended for 35 minutes after Notre Dame's Matt Edwards broke his right leg in a collision. Travis McAndrews hit a grand slam in the third for the Trojans MARCH 8 VS. TCU - Brian Barre, Kris Cox and Joey Metropoulos all homered in the 8-3 win against TCU. Metropoulos hit a three-run, pinch-hit homer in the eighth that hit the top of the clubhouse in left field. Matt Chico got the win after striking out a season-high eight batters in five innings of relief. MARCH 5 AT UC IRVINE - A four-run fifth inning paved the way for a 5-3 win by UC Irvine, the first meeting between former USC assistant coach John Savage (now the UCI head coach) and Mike Gillespie. Josh Rummonds pitched four innings in a last-second start while Alberto Concepcion hit his second home run of the season.
SCHEDULE CHANGE - The game originally scheduled at San Diego State on Tuesday (Feb. 19) has been moved to Monday (March 18). The game time will remain 6 p.m.
PAC-10 PRESEASON POLL - In a preseason poll of the Pac-10 coaches, USC was picked to finish second in the conference. Stanford (seven first-place votes) was picked to win the conference followed by USC (two first-place votes), Arizona State, California, Arizona, Washington, Oregon State, UCLA and Washington State.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE ROAD - With construction at Dedeaux Field, the Trojans will play their first 22 games on the road (the three-game series against Baylor, Feb. 15-17, was played at Dodger Stadium). The $4 million project at Dedeaux Field, scheduled for completion in late March, will add a new clubhouse, players' lounge, expanded coaching offices and Hall of Fame and restrooms. Capacity at Dedeaux Field will be increased to 2,500 with additional seating on the first base side.
A RECORD DAY - The Trojans produced 26 runs on 26 hits in a 26-4 win on Feb. 23 at UCLA. It was the highest output of runs in the all-time series against UCLA, dating back to 1921, and tied the largest margin of victory (22 runs). The Trojans also defeated the Bruins by 22 runs on March 23, 1958 (23-1). The 26 runs tied the most runs since May 25, 1990, when USC defeated Houston, 26-11, at the South I Regional in Baton Rouge, La. The number ties the mark for the third-highest number of runs produced in school history (the school record is 35, set on May 5, 1959, vs. Occidental). Ironically, the Trojans held a 24-0 lead in the seventh inning, three short of the football team's 27-0 shutout against UCLA last November at the Coliseum. The Trojans also scored 10 runs in the second innings, all of them with two outs. They were three runs away from tying the school record for most runs in an inning (13, twice...last time vs. UNC Greensboro on May 26, 1994, at the South Regional in Baton Rouge, La.).
COACH'S CORNER - Mike Gillespie, in his 16th season as the Trojans' head coach, has a 616-341-2 (.643) 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.
USC: PITCHING PERFECTION - A member of the Trojans' pitching staff has won the honor of Pac-10 Conference Pitcher of the Year four consecutive years. Seth Etherton (now with the Cincinnati Reds) won the honor in 1998, Barry Zito (Oakland Athletics) in 1999, Rik Currier, who earned Co-Pitcher of the Year honors, in 2000 and Mark Prior in 2001.
PLAYING FOR THE U.S.A. - The Trojans have four players with national team experience. Junior pitcher Anthony Reyes was a member of the 2000 and 2001 USA National Team. Freshman pitchers Matt Chico and J.P. Howell pitched for the 2000 and 2001 USA Junior National Team while junior pitcher Chad Clark pitched on the 1998 USA Junior National Team.
THE CRUSHER - Listed at 5-9, senior Brian Barre (Garden Grove/Pacifica HS) packs a big punch for the Trojans as the starting centerfielder. Barre currently is batting .348 (24-for-69) with four home runs and 16 RBI. On March 1 against No. 6 Miami, Barre went 2-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI. He went 5-for-13 (.385) with two RBI against Long Beach State (Feb. 8-10). Last year, Barre led the team in batting average (.345), home runs (13), stolen bases (20), slugging percentage (.560) and on-base percentage (.445). He also tied for the team lead with teammate Bill Peavey in RBI (48). For his efforts, he earned All-Pac-10 honors.
CATCH A RISING STAR - Junior catcher Alberto Concepcion (El Segundo/El Segundo HS) has provided some power in the middle of the lineup this season. Concepcion is batting .348 (23-for-66) with seven doubles, one triple, two home runs and eight RBI. He went 5-for-11 (.455) with one RBI at Long Beach State (Feb. 8-10) and threw out three runners on six stolen base attempts against him. Before the start of the season, he earned 2002 Baseball America Preseason All-America second team and Collegiate Baseball Preseason All-America third team honors. Last year, he batted .321 with seven home runs and 41 RBI. Defensively, he threw out 26 of 100 runners (26.0 %). He batted .299 in his 2000 freshman season with eight home runs and 22 RBI.
BIG DADDY - Senior first baseman Bill Peavey (Brisbane/Serra HS) is coming off a career season where he batted .305 with seven home runs and 48 RBI, which tied teammate Brian Barre for the team lead. Peavey is batting .288 (17-for-59) this season with three home runs and 12 RBI. He went 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI on Feb. 24 in a 6-3 win at UCLA. Peavey hit two home runs on June 9, 2001, against Georgia at the College World Series in Omaha, including one hit over the 30-foot-fence in center field.
OH MY GOD, NILES! - He may not be the world-renowed Seattle radio-show host Frasier Crane, but sophomore Fraser Dizard (Edmonds, Wash./Meadowdale HS) is an important member of the Trojans' pitching staff. Dizard saw his first action of the season on March 3 after battling a sore left elbow. He pitched only an inning, allowing one hit with two walks and a strikeout. On Friday against TCU, he pitched two innings, allowing two hits with one walk. He led the team in his 2001 freshman season with seven saves, going 3-3 with a 5.44 ERA. Dizard made six starts in 29 appearances (51 1/3 IP, 52 H, 30 BB, 47 SO).
MAN ON THE MOON - Sophomore Michael Moon (Alta Loma/Rancho Cucamonga HS) provided a solid freshman season last year, batting .313 with six home runs and 35 RBI. This year, he is batting .267 (16-for-60) with 11 RBI. He went 5-for-13 (.385) with three RBI at Long Beach State (Feb. 8-10), including a 4-for-4 afternoon on Sunday, Feb. 10. Last year, 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, 2001, vs. Oral Roberts. He 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-winning walk-off homer to cap a three-run rally in the bottom of the ninth.
REYES OF SUNSHINE - With the loss of pitchers Mark Prior and Rik Currier, the Trojans will look to junior pitcher Anthony Reyes (Whittier/California HS) to assume the No. 1 spot on the weekend rotation. Reyes might see his first action of the season this weekend after being sidelined with a sore right elbow. He earned 2002 Preseason All-America first team honors by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. As the No. 3 starter on the team, Reyes posted a 5-4 record last year with a 3.72 ERA (109 IP, 111 H, 25 BB, 97 SO) and a 6-6 record with a 4.02 ERA in his 2000 freshman season (96 1/3 IP, 98 H, 45 BB, 86 SO).
LUNAR ECLIPSE - Junior second baseman Anthony Lunetta (Riverside/Arlington HS) is looking to continue his strong career at USC and rebound from right elbow surgery in the offseason. He is batting .286 (16-for-56) this season with three RBI and four stolen bases. Lunetta, who earned 2002 Baseball America Preseason All-America second team honors, was named as the Pac-10 Freshman/Newcomer of the Year in his 2000 freshman campaign after batting .343 with 12 home runs and 50 RBI. Last year, he led the Trojans with a .545 batting average (6-for-11) at the College World Series.
NEWCOMERS TO WATCH - This season, a combination of freshmen and transfers will add some fresh faces to the Trojans' lineup. Senior transfer Kris Cox (Breckenridge, Colo.) is playing in left field after three seasons at Mississippi. Junior transfers Travis McAndrews (El Segundo/L.A. Harbor JC) and David Gordon (Sacramento/Sacramento CC) will battle for the starting spot in right field. Freshman Joey Metropoulos (Jamul/Monte Vista HS) has been playing as a designated hitter. Junior utility Nick Mosich (Santa Ana/Saddleback College/Notre Dame) has earned a spot in the lineup after a torrid offensive performance in the fall. Freshmen left-handed pitchers Matt Chico (Fallbrook/Fallbrook HS) and J.P. Howell (Sacramento/Jesuit HS), who were both second-round draft selections last year, have made an immediate impact in the starting rotation. With strong pitching as of late, freshman Brett Bannister (Paradise Valley, Ariz./Chaparral HS) is the younger brother of teammate Brian and has earned a spot in the rotation.
BANNY SQUARED - Freshman Brett Bannister has been the most pleasant surprise this season. Bannister is 1-1 on the season with a 2.39 ERA, having allowed seven earned runs in 26 1/3 innings of work. Opponents are batting .216 against him. He made his first collegiate start on Feb. 17 vs. Baylor at Dodger Stadium and threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings (3 H, 2 BB, 5 SO) before leaving the game in the sixth after being struck by a line drive. X-rays were negative and Bannister pitched the following Sunday against UCLA. Bannister recorded his first win on Feb. 12 at UC Riverside (11-7), with 4 2/3 scoreless innings in relief (2 H, 1 BB, 4 SO). He and his brother, Brian, who is a junior pitcher for the Trojans, are the sons of Floyd, the former No. 1 draft pick out of Arizona State and major-league pitcher.
CHICO STATE - Matt Chico became the first freshman in head coach Mike Gillespie's 16-year career at USC to start a season opener. Despite picking up the loss on Feb. 8 at Long Beach State, Chico showed promise in the 2-0 defeat by pitching out of several jams. He went 4 1/3 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts. Chico showed his versatility by being the designated hitter the following day and playing in left field in the series finale on Feb. 10. He is 2-1 on the season with a 3.28 ERA (24 2/3 IP, 29 H, 20 BB, 23 SO, .296 opponents' batting average). Chico earned his first collegiate win on Feb. 22 at UCLA in a 1-0 victory, throwing 7 1/3 scoreless innings (5 H, 5 BB, 3 SO). He was selected in the second round (61st overall) by the Boston Red Sox in the 2001 draft.
JEWEL OF A PITCHER - Freshman J.P. Howell showed during his collegiate debut on Feb. 10 at Long Beach State why he was a second-round selection (52nd overall) by the Atlanta Braves in the 2001 draft. Howell went five innings to earn his first win in an 8-5 victory against the 49ers, allowing only one run on three hits with a walk and five strikeouts. He is 2-2 this season with a 4.50 ERA (18 IP, 20 H, 11 BB, 12 SO, .294 opponents' batting average). Howell earned his first collegiate win on Feb. 10 at Long Beach State (5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 SO). He threw five scoreless innings, allowing four hits with one walk and two strikeouts on Feb. 23 at UCLA to get the win (26-4).
SUPERMAN IN METROPOULOS - Freshman Joey Metropoulos has been projected as a power hitter after being drafted in the 17th round of the 2001 draft by the Detroit Tigers. Metropoulos, who has played mostly as the designated hitter this season, is batting .316 (12-for-38) with three home runs and nine RBI. He hit a pinch-hit three-run homer on March 8 against TCU at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Tx. The homer hit the top of the Round Rock Express' clubhouse in left field, estimated to be around 450 feet away from home plate.
MAKING THE TRANSITION - Junior Travis McAndrews has made the switch to Division I baseball after earning All-America honors last year at L.A. Harbor College. McAndrews is batting .327 (16-for-49) with a home run and 10 RBI. He hit a grand slam against Notre Dame on March 9 at the Express College Classic in Round Rock, Tx. He was the first Trojan to hit a grand slam since Brian Barre on Feb. 3, 2001, vs. Louisville.
OUT OF NOWHERE - The most unheralded player on the Trojans' roster this season is junior Nick Mosich. Mosich earned the job as a starter after being the No. 3 catcher on the depth chart last year. He went 4-for-9 (.444) with two doubles during the Long Beach State series (Feb. 8-10) and is batting .412 (14-for-34) with four doubles and four RBI.
TROJANS ON THE NET - For the first time, all USC baseball games this season will be broadcast live on www.usctrojans.com. USC students Ethan Rector, Matt Seigel, Scott Swords and Randy Ferrell will handle the majority of the broadcasts while baseball sports information director Jason Pommier will handle selected road games. If the Trojans reach the post-season, all games will also be broadcast live KMPC 1540 AM, USC's flagship radio station.
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 (74) at the CWS and is second for most appearances (21) behind Texas (27).
2001 SEASON RECAP - The Pac-10 Conference championship, a return visit to the College World Series and perhaps one of the greatest individual seasons in collegiate baseball history highlighted the 2001 season for the Trojans. USC finished with a 45-19 overall record and an 18-6 mark in Pac-10 play, winning the conference title on the final day of the regular season at Oregon State. The Trojans went 5-0 with sweeps at home in the NCAA First Round Regional and NCAA Super Regional to earn their 21st CWS appearance in Omaha. After an opening 11-5 win against Georgia, the Trojans' season ended with losses against eventual national champion Miami (4-3) and Tennessee (10-2). Pitcher Mark Prior turned in one of the best seasons ever, becoming the first Trojan to win the Golden Spikes Award, given by USA Baseball to the top amateur baseball player in the nation. Prior became only the second player in history to sweep every major national player of the year award. He earned first team All-America honors and was drafted No. 2 overall by the Chicago Cubs while senior pitcher Rik Currier earned third team All-America honors. Prior was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year while Currier and outfielder Brian Barre earned All-Pac-10 honors.
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), 37 conference titles and 21 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 80 times, and 85 players have gone on to play in the majors, including such stars as Randy Johnson, Mark McGwire, Bret Boone, Jeff Cirillo, Barry Zito, Geoff Jenkins, Jacque Jones, Tom Seaver, Fred Lynn and Ron Fairly.