Baseball Opens Pac-10 Conference Play This Weekend

March 25, 2002

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LOS ANGELES - The USC baseball team (12-13) - winner of 12 NCAA championships, more than twice as many as any other school - will host California (18-11) in a three-game series to open 2002 Pac-10 Conference play, beginning on Thursday (March 28) at 6 p.m. at Dedeaux Field. The series will continue on Friday (March 29) at 6 p.m. and Saturday (March 30) at 1 p.m. All three games will be broadcast live, along with Live Stats play-by-play, on www.usctrojans.com.

RANKINGS - USC and California are not ranked in any polls.

CALIFORNIA NOTES - California is 18-11 on the season (the Golden Bears played Monday at Washington State). Head coach David Esquer is 77-64 in his third season at California. Before today's game, infielder Conor Jackson was leading the team with a .402 batting average with seven home runs and 33 RBI. Thursday's starter Trevor Hutchinson is 5-2 on the season with a 2.82 ERA (54 1/3 IP, 42 H, 11 BB, 52 SO, .211 opponents' batting average). The Trojans lead the all-time series with the Golden Bears by a 210-120-2 margin.

LAST WEEK - The Trojans played their first home games of the season at the remodeled Dedeaux Field and were swept by No. 1 Stanford in a three-game series. MARCH 24 VS. STANFORD - Stanford completed the sweep, using three solo home runs for a 5-4 victory. J.P. Howell pitched five innings in relief, allowing only one run on two hits with a walk and five strikeouts. Alberto Concepcion and Bill Peavey had two hits each for the Trojans. MARCH 23 VS. STANFORD (Game 2 of DH) - The roles were reversed in the nightcap as Stanford jumped out to a 7-0 lead and held on for a 12-10 win in 11 innings. The Trojans tied the game at 10-10 in the eighth and had runners at first and third with no outs in the ninth, but could not score. The Cardinal scored two unearned runs after two Trojan miscues in the top of the 12th for the victory. Cory Campos got the loss despite a fine effort in relief with four innings, allowing two runs (none earned) on three hits with no walks and six strikeouts. MARCH 23 VS. STANFORD (Game 1 of DH) - The Trojans took an early 5-0 lead against Cardinal ace Jeremy Guthrie, but could not hold on as Stanford scored five in the sixth as part of a 9-6 win in the first game of the doubleheader. Brian Barre went 3-for-5 for the Trojans with three doubles. Josh Rummonds threw two no-hit innings in relief.

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 played 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 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.

ONE CRAZY SEASON - The first two months of the 2002 season has produced some strange moments for the Trojans. Playing the first 22 games on the schedule has produced the following games: FEBRUARY 23 - The Trojans produced 26 runs on 26 hits in a 26-4 win 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 tied 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 inning, 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.). MARCH 9 - Travis McAndrews hit a grand slam against Notre Dame at the Express College Classic in the third as the Trojans held an 8-4 lead, going into the bottom of the fourth. The game took a scary turn when Notre Dame freshman shortstop Matt Edwards broke his right leg in a collision with left fielder Matt Bok. The game was suspended for 40 minutes as Edwards was taken to a nearby hospital. The Irish were truly in a fighting mode as the team scored 11 unanswered runs after the delay, including six runs in the ninth for a 15-8 win against the Trojans. MARCH 19 - The final game of the 22-game 'road trip' produced the worst loss ever in USC's history with a 31-7 defeat at Loyola Marymount. The loss produced three school records: most runs allowed in a game, largest margin of defeat and most hits allowed (27). LMU's Jonathan Oller hit two three-run homers as part of a 10-run seventh inning. The Lions added eight more runs in the eighth as USC used eight pitchers. Reserve infielder Dale Legaspi pitched the final inning for the Trojans, allowing one run on three hits. The Trojans also committed five errors on the afternoon. USC was playing its fifth road game in seven days and had played the night before in San Diego, arriving on campus at 1:30 a.m. in the morning before playing 12 hours later at LMU.

COACH'S CORNER - Mike Gillespie, in his 16th season as the Trojans' head coach, has a 620-345-2 (.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 .333 (34-for-102) with six home runs and 23 RBI. He hit three doubles against No. 1 Stanford on March 23 and went 3-for-5 with two home runs and five RBI in the Trojans' 15-5 win on March 13 at No. 20 San Diego. On March 1 against No. 6 Miami, Barre went 2-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI and 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.

REYES OF SUNSHINE - With the loss of pitchers Mark Prior and Rik Currier, the Trojans looked to junior pitcher Anthony Reyes (Whittier/California HS) to assume the No. 1 spot on the weekend rotation. A sore right elbow kept Reyes from pitching until March 17 when he made his first appearance of the season in a limited start (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 0 SO). Reyes is 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA (4 IP, 5 H, 4 BB, 0 SO). 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).

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 .361 (31-for-83) with 10 doubles, one triple, four home runs and 12 RBI. He has a team-high 12-game hitting streak, batting .340 (16-for-47) with three home runs and six RBI. Concepcion 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.

REMEMBER THE ALAMO - Sophomore right-hander Jon Williams (Alamo/Monte Vista HS) has been a key reliever this season in the Trojans' bullpen. Williams is 3-1 this season with a 3.55 ERA and one save (25 1/3 IP, 25 H, 3 BB, 12 SO, .255 opponents' batting average). On March 16 at Pepperdine, he retired the final 18 batters in a row to register the victory, pitching 6 2/3 innings (2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO). He earned his first Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honor for the performance.

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 .322 (29-for-90) this season with four home runs and 20 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.

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.

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 .344 (21-for-61) with three home runs and 16 RBI. He sprained his right ankle on March 23 against Stanford, but might see action this weekend against California. On March 17 at Pepperdine, he went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a triple and three 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 475-500 feet away from home plate.

GORDON IN A FLASH - Junior David Gordon was sidelined through the first part of the season with a broken right thumb, but has made up for it since making his first appearance on March 5 at UC Irvine. Gordon has made seven starts in 10 games and is batting .381 (8-for-21) with six RBI. He has walked six times (.533 on-base percentage) and stolen two bases. On March 17 at Pepperdine, he went 3-for-4 with three RBI in the Trojans' 18-6 victory.

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 .277 (18-for-65) with a two home runs and 13 RBI. On March 18 at San Diego State, McAndrews hit a pinch-hit, three-run homer to break a tie in the seventh in the Trojans' 8-6 win. 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.

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. On March 24 against No. 1 Stanford, he pitched five innings in relief and allowed only one run on two hits with a walk and five strikeouts. He is 3-3 this season with a 4.41 ERA (32 2/3 IP, 32 H, 16 BB, 23 SO, .262 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).

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 3-2 on the season with a 4.54 ERA (35 2/3 IP, 43 H, 25 BB, 33 SO, .305 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.

BANNY SQUARED - Freshman Brett Bannister has been the most pleasant surprise this season. Bannister is 1-2 on the season with a 3.55 ERA (33 IP, 34 H, 15 BB, 28 SO, .266 opponents' batting average). 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.

INJURY REPORT:* Jon Williams (RHP) - day-to-day, sprained right hip* Joey Metropoulos (DH) - out 1-2 weeks, sprained right ankle* Brian Bannister (RHP) - out until late April or early May, surgery on right elbow* Fraser Dizard (LHP) - out six weeks, sore left elbow

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.

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