Baseball Looks To Stay In Pac-10 Race For First Place
April 16, 2002
LOS ANGELES - The USC baseball team (20-16, 6-3 Pac-10) - winner of 12 NCAA championships, more than twice as many as any other school - will host Loyola Marymount (16-21) in a non-conference game on Tuesday (April 16) before traveling to Washington State (14-20, 2-7 Pac-10) for a Pac-10 series, beginning on Friday (April 19) at 6 p.m. The series with Washington State will continue on Saturday (April 20) and Sunday (April 21) with 1 p.m. starts for both games. All four games will be broadcast live on www.usctrojans.com. Live Stats play-by-play will be available for Tuesday's game only.
LOYOLA MARYMOUNT NOTES - Loyola Marymount is 16-21 on the season and took two of three last weekend against Pepperdine (8-14, 10-9, 7-5). Head Coach Frank Cruz is 165-167-1 in his sixth season at Loyola Marymount. The Lions are batting .298 as a team while its pitching staff has a 6.55 ERA. Shortstop Billy Lockin has a .352 batting average with 25 RBI. The Lions defeated the Trojans, 31-7, earlier this season. The Trojans lead the all-time series with the Lions by a 112-18-1 margin.
WASHINGTON STATE NOTES - Washington State is 14-20 on the season and lost two of three last weekend at Washington (4-2, 9-10, 7-11). Head Coach Tim Mooney is 29-59 in his second season at Washington State. The Cougars are batting .310 as a team while its pitching staff has a 6.84 ERA. Senior second baseman Bookie Gates is batting .380 with two home runs and 28 RBI. Pitcher Brandon Hundt is 4-3 this season with a 4.50 ERA and three saves (56 IP, 63 H, 26 BB, 50 SO, .280 opponents' batting average). The Trojans lead the all-time series with the Cougars by a 44-10 margin.
LAST WEEK - The Trojans went 2-2 with a non-conference win at No. 13 Cal State Fullerton and losing two of three at No. 2 Stanford (5-6 in 10 innings, 16-11 and 4-15). APRIL 14 AT STANFORD - The Cardinal broke a 2-2 tie with 13 unanswered runs to win the three-game series. Jason Cooper hit his third home run of the series for the Cardinal. Brian Barre and Alberto Concepcion hit solo home runs for the Trojans. APRIL 13 AT STANFORD - Freshman Joey Metropoulos hit a three-run homer as part of a six-run first inning in the Trojans' rout against the Cardinal. USC scored six in the first and five in the second, knocking out starter Tim Cunningham after only an inning. David Gordon went 4-for-5 with two doubles and four RBI while Metropoulos went 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBI. Freshman Matt Chico picked up his fifth win of the season. APRIL 12 AT STANFORD - Sam Fuld's bases-loaded single to left capped a two-run rally in the bottom of the 10th inning as the Cardinal won the first game of the Pac-10 series. Bill Peavey gave the Trojans the lead in the 10th with a bases-loaded walk although he missed hitting a grand slam earlier in the count on a ball that just missed the right field foul pole by a few feet. Brian Barre, Michael Moon, Peavey and Michael Morales had two hits each for the Trojans. APRIL 9 AT CAL STATE FULLERTON - Jordan Olson had his best start as a Trojan, allowing only two runs in six innings to get the win. Alberto Concepcion went 2-for-3 with an RBI as the Trojans recorded three doubles in the non-conference victory.
600 WINS FOR DEDEAUX - On April 2 in a 13-5 win against UC Irvine, the USC baseball team registered its 600th victory at Dedeaux Field, which opened in 1974. The Trojans have averaged over 21 wins at Dedeaux Field in the last nine seasons. This year, USC is 6-4 and has only 24 games on its home schedule.
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, which will be completed later this season, 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 628-348-2 (.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.
SHOOTING FOR THE SULLIVAN - Former USC standout pitcher Mark Prior was one of five finalists for the Sullivan Award, which recognizes the top amateur athlete in the nation and is considered the 'Oscar' of sports awards. Michelle Kwan (figure skating) won the award in a ceremony on April 9 at the New York Athletic Club. The finalists were selected based on their qualities of leadership, character, sportsmanship and the ideals of amateurism during the 2001 calendar year and is presented by the Amateur Athletic Union. Prior, who won the 2001 Golden Spikes Award, is only the fourth baseball player in the 72-year history of the award to be named as one of the finalists. He was selected along with Kwan, Natalie Coughlin (swimming), Sean Townsend (gymnastics) and Alan Webb (track and field).
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.
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 1-0 with a 2.29 ERA (19 2/3 IP, 17 H, 11 BB, 14 SO, .227 opponents' batting average). 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/third baseman Alberto Concepcion (El Segundo/El Segundo HS) has provided some power in the middle of the lineup this season. On April 7 against Oregon State, Concepcion started as the Trojans' third baseman and has been at that position ever since. Concepcion is batting .378 (51-for-135) with 12 doubles, two triples, six home runs and 23 RBI. He had a team-high 14-game hitting streak snapped on March 30 against California. On March 28 against California, he went 4-for-4 with a double, triple and two 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.
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 .352 (45-for-128) this season with seven home runs and 39 RBI. He has a 10-game hitting streak, where he is batting .444 (16-for-36) with three home runs and 18 RBI. On April 2 against UC Irvine, he went 2-for-4 with a double, home run and three 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.
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 .326 (47-for-144) with eight home runs and 28 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.
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 4-2 this season with a 3.29 ERA and three saves (41 IP, 45 H, 9 BB, 18 SO, .274 opponents' batting average). He got his third save of the season with three scoreless innings on April 9 at No. 13 Cal State Fullerton. 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.
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 16th round of the 2001 draft by the Detroit Tigers and is making a push for Freshman All-America honors. Metropoulos, who has played mostly as the designated hitter this season, is batting .378 (37-for-98) with six home runs and 27 RBI. On April 13 at No. 2 Stanford, he went 3-for-5 with a three-run homer that started a six-run first inning in the Trojans' 16-11 victory. He sprained his right ankle on March 23 against Stanford, but still played in the California series. Metropoulos hit a two-run homer as part of a six-run inning in a 13-9 win on March 30 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 13 starts in 17 games and is batting .378 (17-for-45) with 13 RBI. He went 4-for-5 with two doubles and four RBI on April 13 at No. 2 Stanford. 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 (23-for-83) with a two home runs and 17 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.
BANNY SQUARED - Freshman Brett Bannister has been the most pleasant surprise this season. Bannister is 3-2 on the season with a 2.98 ERA (48 1/3 IP, 44 H, 20 BB, 42 SO, .242 opponents' batting average). On March 29 vs. California, he threw five innings in relief for the victory (5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 SO). 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.
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 3-4 this season with a 5.27 ERA (42 2/3 IP, 43 H, 27 BB, 30 SO, .269 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. His best outing came on March 28 against California (7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 13 SO) in the Trojans' 11-3 win. He is 5-3 on the season with a 5.98 ERA (49 2/3 IP, 60 H, 31 BB, 52 SO, .303 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.
CAREER MARKS - Here are some updated numbers for USC players currently in the Top 20 lists:- Brian Barre with 27 home runs needs one to tie Fred Lynn, Mark Smith, J.P. Roberge and Gabe Alvarez for 13th place.- Barre with 139 runs scored needs three to tie J.P. Roberge for 16th place.- Barre with 40 stolen bases needs one to tie Don Buford, Jr., and Wes Rachels for ninth place.- Barre with 101 walks needs four to tie Eric Munson for 10th place.
INJURY REPORT:* 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, Roy Smalley and Ron Fairly.