Top Ten Showdown Looms For No. 8 Trojans
Feb. 18, 2003
LOS ANGELES - The No. 8 USC baseball team (5-2) - winner of 12 NCAA championships, more than twice as many as any other school - will host Pepperdine (2-1) on Tuesday (Feb. 18) at 5 p.m. at Dedeaux Field before traveling to No. 9 Baylor (4-3) for a three-game series beginning on Friday (Feb. 21) at 6 p.m. Central time. The game on Saturday (Feb. 22) will start at 3 p.m., with a 12:30 p.m. start for Sunday (Feb. 23). All games will be broadcast live, along with Gametracker play-by-play, on usctrojans.com.
RANKINGS - USC is ranked No. 7 in the latest USA Today Sports Weekly/ESPN poll, No. 8 in Baseball America and No. 9 by Collegiate Baseball. Baylor is ranked No. 9 by Baseball America, No. 11 by USA Today Sports Weekly/ESPN and No. 16 by Collegiate Baseball. Pepperdine is not ranked in any of the polls.
PEPPERDINE NOTES - Pepperdine is 2-1 on the season and has not played since Feb. 9 when the Waves defeated UC Santa Barbara, 5-2, at home. Head coach Frank Sanchez is 223-137 in his seventh season at Pepperdine. Pepperdine is batting .155 as a team while its pitching staff has a 1.33 ERA. USC leads the all-time series by a 78-29-1 margin. The Trojans took two of three from the Waves last year (5-3, 18-6, 1-7).
BAYLOR NOTES - Baylor is 4-3 on the season after taking two of three at the Minute Maid Park College Classic last weekend in Houston. Head coach Steve Smith is 302-183-1 in his ninth season at Baylor. The team is batting .345 while its pitching staff has a 6.33 ERA. Sophomore Michael Griffin is batting .529 with two home runs and 12 RBI. Senior right-hander Steven White is 1-0 with a 4.58 ERA (17 2/3 IP, 22 H, 9 R, 3 BB, 17 SO). Baylor leads the all-time series by a 3-2 margin. The Bears swept the Trojans in a three-game series last year at Dodger Stadium (18-9, 8-1, 3-1).
LAST WEEK - The Trojans went 3-0 with a three-game series sweep at home against No. 23 South Alabama (10-2, 10-1 and 9-5). FEBRUARY 16 VS. SOUTH ALABAMA - Michael Moon went 3-for-5 with a home run and two RBI to complete the series sweep. Jeff Clement and Travis McAndrews collected three hits each for the Trojans. David Gordon also homered with a solo shot in the eighth. Jon Williams got the win with 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief. FEBRUARY 15 VS. SOUTH ALABAMA - Jeff Clement provided an encore with a two-homer game, going 2-for-3 with four RBI in the win for the Trojans. He became the first Trojan since Jason Lane (April 24-25, 1999, vs. Arizona State) to record back-to-back multi-home run games. USC scored four runs in the first inning to set the tempo. Brian Bannister threw seven shutout innings, scattering six hits to earn the victory. Jon Brewster and Michael Moon extended their hitting streaks to six games to start the 2003 season. FEBRUARY 14 VS. SOUTH ALABAMA - Jeff Clement went 2-for-5 with two home runs and three RBI for the Trojans. Joey Metropoulos also homered, going 2-for-4 with four RBI. Junior third baseman Michael Moon, with two outs and a 1-2 count in the bottom of the first, stole home to put the Trojans on the scoreboard. Senior right-hander Anthony Reyes (1-1) got the win, going 5 2/3 innings, allowing five hits, two runs, no walks and five strikeouts. Freshman Bobby Paschal, who started the game as the designated hitter, threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing only three hits with two strikeouts.
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.
OOPS, I DID IT AGAIN - Jeff Clement became the first Trojan since Jason Lane (April 24-25, 1999, vs. Arizona State) to record back-to-back multi-home run games. Clement hit two home runs, including his first collegiate homer, in a 10-2 win on Feb. 14 against No. 23 South Alabama at Dedeaux Field and hit two more the following night. For his efforts, Clement was named Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week and Pac-10 Conference Player of the Week.
NO FREE PASSES - In 62 innings this season, the Trojan pitching staff has allowed only 13 walks. From Feb. 9 through Feb. 15, the Trojans had a streak of 22 consecutive innings without allowing a walk.
FIRST BASE COACH - When USC volunteer assistant coach and first base coach Rob Klein was ejected prior to the start of the Feb. 9 game against Long Beach State, Mike Gillespie decided to use an ace in the hole in the form of sophomore infielder Dale Legaspi (Burbank/Crespi HS). Legaspi is 1-0 as the Trojans' first base coach after USC registered a 12-7 win against the 49ers.
COACH'S CORNER - Mike Gillespie, in his 17th season as the Trojans' head coach, has a 650-358-2 (.645) 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. This season, Reyes is 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA (10 1/3 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 11 SO). He took the loss in his first appearance of the season on Feb. 7 vs. Long Beach State, going 4 2/3 innings and allowed four hits, four runs (all unearned), no walks and six strikeouts.
MAN ON THE MOON - Junior Michael Moon (Alta Loma/Rancho Cucamonga HS) is the starting third baseman this year after spending his 2002 sophomore season as the Trojans' starting shortstop. Moon has started the season with a seven-game hitting streak, batting .419 (13-for-31). On Feb. 16, Moon went 3-for-5 with his first home run of the season and two RBI in a 9-5 win against No. 23 South Alabama. Last year, 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.
BREWSTER'S MILLIONS - Junior Jon Brewster (Sherman Oaks/Notre Dame HS) moved to second base after playing as the starting third baseman last year for the Trojans. This season, Brewster leads the team in hitting with a .435 average (10-for-23) and has a team-leading .533 on-base percentage. He has a seven-game hitting streak to start the season. On Feb. 4 in the season opener, he hit a two-run homer in a 5-2 win at UC Santa Barbara. Brewster hit two doubles on Feb. 9 in a 12-7 win against Long Beach State.
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. This season, he is batting .370 (10-for-27) with a home run and six RBI. 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.
PHRESHMAN PHENOMS - Two freshmen will be playing this season for the Trojans and both are making an immediate impact. Catcher Jeff Clement (Marshalltown, Iowa/Marshalltown HS) earned national attention last year when he set the national high school career mark with 75 home runs. Clement strugged at the start of the season with a 1-for-15 streak, but broke out during the South Alabama series with a 7-for-12 effort. During the series, he hit four home runs and eight RBI (two home runs on Friday and two on Saturday), which earned him Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week and Pac-10 Conference Player of the Week honors. Left-handed pitcher Bobby Paschal (Northridge/Chaminade HS) pitched his way into a prominent position after strong fall practices. He pitched two scoreless innings in relief in the Trojans' season opener on Feb. 4 at UC Santa Barbara and followed with another 2 1/3 scoreless innings on Feb. 14 against No. 23 South Alabama.
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.
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 is 2-1 this season with a 2.25 ERA (16 IP, 15 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 11 SO). On Feb. 15 against No. 23 South Alabama, Brian pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed six hits with no walks and five strikeouts. He did not pitch in 2002 after right elbow surgery, but is healthy now after going 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. 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.
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.
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.