No. 6 Trojans Open 2003 Campaign At UC Santa Barbara
Feb. 3, 2003
LOS ANGELES - The No. 6 USC baseball team - winner of 12 NCAA championships, more than twice as many as any other school - opens the 2003 regular season on Tuesday (Feb. 4) at UC Santa Barbara before a three-game weekend series against No. 16 Long Beach State (Feb. 7-9). Friday's game will take place at Dedeaux Field at 6 p.m., Saturday's game will be played at Blair Field at 1:05 p.m. and the series finale will return to Dedeaux Field with a 1 p.m. start. All games will be broadcast live on usctrojans.com while Live Stats will be available for the Long Beach State home games.
RANKINGS - USC is ranked No. 3 in the 2003 Collegiate Baseball preseason poll and No. 6 by Baseball America and USA Today Sports Weekly/ESPN. Long Beach State is ranked No. 13 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 16 by Baseball America and USA Today Sports Weekly/ESPN. UC Santa Barbara is not ranked in any poll.
UC SANTA BARBARA NOTES - UC Santa Barbara is 1-2 on the season after losing two of three at home last weekend against San Diego State. Head coach Bob Brontsema is 240-243 in his 10th season at UC Santa Barbara. Sophomore infielder Matt Wilkerson earned Freshman All-America honors last year after batting .312 with 16 home runs and 49 RBI. USC leads the all-time series by an 82-29-1 margin.
LONG BEACH STATE NOTES - Long Beach State is 1-2 on the season after losing two of three at home last weekend against Arizona State. Head coach Mike Weathers is 40-23 in his second season at Long Beach State. Left-hander Abe Alvarez earned the win last Friday in an 11-5 victory against the Sun Devils with 5 1/3 innings of work (6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO). USC leads the all-time series by a 67-28 margin.
PAC-10 PRESEASON POLL - In a preseason poll of the Pac-10 coaches, USC was picked to finish first in the conference. USC (six first-place votes) was picked to win the conference followed by Arizona State (two first-place votes), Stanford, California (one first-place vote), Arizona, UCLA, Washington, Oregon State and Washington State.
TROJANS ON THE NET - All USC baseball games this season will be broadcast live on www.usctrojans.com. USC students Ethan Rector, Scott Swords and Randy Ferrell will handle the majority of the broadcasts while baseball sports information director Jason Pommier will handle selected road games.
BASEBALL HALL OF FAME - On Feb. 1, the USC Baseball Hall of Fame opened to the public for the first time. The Hall of Fame is the final part of the $4 million Dedeaux Field renovation project that includes a new locker room, seating pavilion on the first base side and stadium seating. All 12 national championship trophies will be permanently displayed as well as the awards won by former Trojan and current Chicago Cub pitcher Mark Prior during his 2001 national player of the year season.
COACH'S CORNER - Mike Gillespie, in his 17th season as the Trojans' head coach, has a 645-356-2 (.644) career record and has led USC to the 1998 national championship, five conference titles (1991, 1995, 1996, 2001, 2002), 14 trips to the NCAA Regionals in 16 years (reaching the regional finals 12 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 four times (1991-95-96-2002) 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.
REYES OF SUNSHINE - Senior pitcher Anthony Reyes (Whittier/California HS) will be counted upon as the team's No. 1 starter in the rotation after earning Baseball America Preseason All-America third team honors. Despite missing the early part of the 2002 season with soreness in his right elbow, Reyes registered a 4-2 record with a 3.44 ERA (65 1/3 IP, 69 H, 17 BB, 49 SO) and earned All-Pac-10 honors
LUNAR ECLIPSE - It has taken two years for senior Anthony Lunetta (Riverside/Arlington HS) to fully recover from a right elbow injury, but the Trojans' starting shortstop is healthy for the 2003 season. Lunetta was named as the Pac-10 Freshman/Newcomer of the Year and earned Collegiate Baseball All-America first team honors in his 2000 freshman campaign after batting .343 with 12 home runs and 50 RBI. He also led the Trojans with a .545 batting average (6-for-11) at the 2001 College World Series.
MAN ON THE MOON - Junior Michael Moon (Alta Loma/Rancho Cucamonga HS) moves back to third base after spending his 2002 sophomore season as the Trojans' starting shortstop. Moon earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention honors after batting .336 with eight home runs and 60 RBI. He made a name for himself after his freshman season, batting .313 with six home runs and 35 RBI. Moon went 7-for-13 (.538) with a triple, home run and five RBI at the 2001 NCAA Regional to earn Most Outstanding Player honors. He also stole home during the regional on May 25, 2001, vs. Oral Roberts and delivered one of the most electrifying moments in the history of Dedeaux Field on May 26 against Pepperdine. Down 3-2 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.
SUPERMAN IN METROPOULOS - Sophomore designated hitter Joey Metropoulos (Jamul/Monte Vista HS) will have a bullseye on his back after a stellar freshman season that earned him Baseball America Freshman All-America honors. Metropoulos, a 16th-round selection by the Detroit Tigers in the 2001 draft, batted .352 (68-for-193) with 13 home runs and 65 RBI. On May 26 at UCLA, he went 3-for-5 with a season-high seven RBI with a double and home run. He showed his power with 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.
THE BANNISTER BOYS - Junior Brian Bannister and sophomore Brett Bannister (Paradise Valley, Arizona/Chaparral HS) have made a name for themselves on the USC pitching staff. Brian went 4-4 with a 2.80 ERA and five saves (54 2/3 IP, 40 H, 21 BB, 56 SO) in his 2001 sophomore season. He did not pitch in 2002 after right elbow surgery, but is healthy now. His brother, Brett, went 8-3 last year as a freshman with a 3.56 ERA (86 IP, 80 H, 32 BB, 76 SO). Brett will be out until mid-to-late March with a strain in the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Both are the sons of Floyd, the former No. 1 draft pick out of Arizona State and major-league pitcher. Brian also pitched in the 2000 College World Series, becoming the second father-son tandem to pitch in the CWS.
PHRESHMAN PHENOMS - Two freshmen will be playing this season for the Trojans and both should make an immediate impact. Catcher/designated hitter Jeff Clement (Marshalltown, Iowa/Marshalltown HS) earned national attention last year when he set the national high school career mark with 75 home runs. Left-handed pitcher Bobby Paschal (Northridge/Chaminade HS) pitched his way into a prominent position after strong fall practices.
NEWCOMERS TO WATCH - Junior outfielder Spencer Gordon (Northridge/Chaminade HS) tried out for the Trojans in 2000 and 2001, but did not make the cut and went 1-for-15 as a pinch hitter last year. After an impressive fall, Gordon has earned a spot as the Trojans' starting left fielder. Junior transfer Tyler Haskell (Austin, Tex./Temple College) will have an opportunity for some playing time in the outfield along with redshirt freshman infielder Billy Hart (Tustin/Mission Viejo HS). Hart is also a reserve quarterback on the USC football team and played in two games during the 2002 season. Freshman catcher Baron Frost (San Diego/St. Augustine HS) also had a strong offensive performance at the plate.
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 eight 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 (29).
2002 SEASON RECAP - The USC Trojans finished the 2002 season with a 37-24 overall record, winning their second straight Pac-10 Conference title with a 17-7 mark. The Trojans went 3-0 at home in the NCAA Regional before falling to Stanford in the NCAA Super Regional. Catcher Alberto Concepcion earned All-America second team honors after being named Pac-10 Conference Player of the Year.