Two-Time Champion Trojans Begin Pac-10 Defense This Weekend
March 17, 2003
LOS ANGELES - The USC baseball team (11-11) - winner of 12 NCAA championships, more than twice as many as any other school - will travel to San Diego (11-15) on Tuesday (March 18) for a 2 p.m. game before starting Pac-10 Conference play on Friday (March 21) at Arizona (17-7) at 7 p.m. Games on Saturday (March 22) and Sunday (March 23) will start at 1 p.m. The Trojans begin conference play as defending two-time Pac-10 champions. All four games will be broadcast live on usctrojans.com.
RANKINGS - Arizona is ranked No. 20 in the nation by Collegiate Baseball. USC and San Diego are not ranked in any polls.
SAN DIEGO NOTES - San Diego is 11-15 on the season after losing two of three last weekend at San Francisco. Head coach Rich Hill is 147-113-2 in his fifth season at San Diego. The team is batting .286 while its pitching staff has a 5.97 ERA. Joey Prast leads the team in batting average (.382), home runs (five) and RBI (28). USC leads the all-time series with San Diego by a 13-2 margin. The Trojans defeated the Toreros, 15-5, in the only meeting between the two schools last year on March 13 at Dedeaux Field.
ARIZONA NOTES - Arizona is 17-7 on the season after a series sweep against Wagner. Head coach Andy Lopez is 48-31 in his second season at Arizona. The team is batting .353 while its pitching staff has a 3.39 ERA. Jeff Van Houten leads the team with a .427 batting average with five home runs and 36 RBI. Sunday starter Richie Gardner is 4-0 on the season with a 2.36 ERA (34 1/3 IP, 33 H, 8 BB, 32 SO). USC leads the all-time series with Arizona by a 104-80-1 margin. The Trojans took two of three last year against the Wildcats at Dedeaux Field (14-6, 12-10, 12-15).
LAST WEEK - The Trojans went 2-1 with a 9-6 win at Pepperdine and two-game split at home with No. 5 Cal State Fullerton (3-2, 3-11). MARCH 16 VS. CAL STATE FULLERTON - Kyle Boyer went 4-for-5 with a grand slam and four RBI in the Titans' victory. Fullerton used three home runs and 16 hits to power its offense as Dustin Miller and Sean Martin threw a combined eight shutout innings. MARCH 14 VS. CAL STATE FULLERTON - Jeff Clement went David Gordon led off the USC eighth with a solo home run to center for the go-ahead run. Michael Cooper got the win while Jordan Olson recorded the save. Freshman Bobby Paschal did not record the decision for USC despite going seven innings and allowing one run (unearned) on three hits with no walks and 12 strikeouts. Jeff Clement hit his 11th homer of the season off CSF's Jason Windsor in the seventh on a 1-2 pitch. MARCH 11 AT PEPPERDINE - Jeff Clement went 3-for-4 with two home runs and three RBI as the Trojans snapped Pepperdine's eight-game home win streak. It was the third multi-home run game of the season for Clement. Anthony Lunetta also homered with his fourth of the season. The Trojans won for the first time in 10 tries after being behind after the fifth inning, thanks in part to a four-run sixth.
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.
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 656-367-2 (.641) 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.
PATCHWORK PITCHING - The USC pitching staff has battled through a number of problems for the 2003 season. A total of seven players who pitched for the Trojans last year are not pitching due to various reasons: Anthony Reyes (right elbow injury), Brett Bannister (right elbow injury), Jon Williams (right elbow injury), Jordan Olson (team suspension), Matt Chico (academics), Cory Campos (academics) and J.P. Howell (transferred to Texas). Williams might see some action this weekend in the Cal State Fullerton series while the team suspension of Olson has recently been lifted. Olson returned to action on March 14 against Cal State Fullerton and Williams will have a limited start on March 18 at San Diego. Bannister might return to action during or immediately after the Arizona State series and Reyes is still day-to-day.
CENTER OF ATTENTION - Senior centerfielder Travis McAndrews (El Segundo/El Segundo HS) is quietly putting together a strong season for the Trojans. He leads the team in batting with a .345 (30-for-87) average with three home runs and 14 RBI. He had a team-high 15-game hitting streak snapped on March 14 against No. 5 Cal State Fullerton. On Feb. 9 vs. Long Beach State, McAndrews went 2-for-5 with a double, home run and three RBI. This season, he has registered eight multi-hit games, including three-hit performances on Feb. 28 at Stanford and Feb. 16 vs. South Alabama.
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 .318 (27-for-85) with four home runs and 15 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 during his 2002 freshman season. 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.
JUMPING OUT AT J ROB - Joey Metropoulos hit home runs in back-to-back games on March 7 and 8 at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium and now has six home runs in nine games in his career against the Bruins.
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. This season, Lunetta is batting .296 (24-for-81) with four home runs and 11 RBI. He had a season-high eight-game hitting streak snapped on March 14 against No. 5 Cal State Fullerton. He went 6-for-11 (.545) with two home runs and four RBI during the Stanford series (Feb. 28-March 2). 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.
PHRESHMAN PHENOM FROM IOWA - 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. He is batting .291 (23-for-79) on the season and leads the team in home runs (11) and RBI (21). He hit a three-run homer in the first on Feb. 25 in a 6-4 win against UC Irvine and hit a two-run home run in the first on March 4 in a 7-2 win against UNLV. On March 11 at Pepperdine, he went 3-for-4 with two home runs and three RBI in a 9-6 victory. His 11th homer came on March 14 against No. 5 Cal State Fullerton with a leadoff homer in the seventh inning to tie the game at 1-1 (USC won the game, 3-2).
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.
CHASING BIG MAC - Freshman Jeff Clement has shown an affinity for hitting home runs in the 2003 season. He is chasing Mark McGwire's school record of 32 home runs, set in 1984. If he hits at least 15 home runs this season, he would break into the school top 20 list and be the first freshman ever to accomplish the feat.
HR Games HR per gameMark McGwire (1984) 32 67 0.48Jim Campanis (1988) 23 62 0.37Geoff Jenkins (1995) 23 70 0.33Morgan Ensberg (1998) 21 66 0.32Jason Lane (1999) 20 62 0.32Jeff Clement (2003) 11 22 0.50
PUT ME IN, COACH - This season, 10 of Jeff Clement's 11 home runs have occurred when he was the starting catcher while he has hit only one when he was the designated hitter.
PHRESHMAN PHENOM FROM CALIFORNIA - Left-handed pitcher Bobby Paschal (Northridge/Chaminade HS) pitched his way into a prominent position after strong fall practices. On the season, he is 1-3 with a 2.97 ERA (36 1/3 IP, 28 H, 12 ER, 8 BB, 38 SO, .204 opponents' batting average). 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. On Feb. 23 at No. 9 Baylor, Paschal threw the first complete game since Rik Currier went the distance in the 2001 NCAA Super Regional against Florida International. Against Baylor, he took the loss despite going eight innings and allowing three runs on seven hits with no walks and six strikeouts. On March 14 against No. 5 Cal State Fullerton, he went seven innings in a no-decision against the Titans. Paschal allowed only one run (unearned) on three hits with no walks and 12 strikeouts. He struck out three straight batters in a row three times and struck out the side in his seventh and final inning.
COMMISSIONER GORDON - Senior David Gordon (Sacramento/Kennedy HS/UC Davis/Sacramento CC) is second on the team behind Jeff Clement with five home runs on the season. Gordon is batting .292 (19-for-65) with nine RBI. On March 14 against No. 5 Cal State Fullerton, he led off the Trojans' eighth with a lead off home run to center on the first pitch for the game-winning run as USC won, 3-2. He opened the 2003 season with a 2-for-4 performance with a home run in the Trojans' 5-2 win at UC Santa Barbara.
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 is batting .280 (23-for-82). He had an eight-game hitting streak snapped on Feb. 22 at Baylor. 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.
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 3-3 this season with a 4.31 ERA (39 2/3 IP, 44 H, 19 ER, 8 BB, 24 SO, .288 opponents' batting average). 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.
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 started the season with a seven-game hitting streak and is batting .274 (23-for-84) for the season with two home runs and 10 RBI. 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.
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). Reyes has been diagnosed with a sore right elbow and is currently listed as day-to-day. 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.
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. Redshirt freshman outfielder Billy Hart (Tustin/Mission Viejo HS) has also gotten some playing time this season. Hart is also a reserve quarterback on the USC football team and played in two games during the 2002 season.
QUARTERBACKING THE OUTFIELD - Freshman Billy Hart did something on March 8 that has never happened during Mike Gillespie's 17-year tenure at USC. Hart, who is a reserve quarterback on the USC football team, participated in spring football practice and drove to UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium to play in the 1 p.m. game. Without any batting practice, Hart was inserted into the game in right field in the sixth inning and finished 0-for-2 at the plate.
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.
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.
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.
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), 38 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 89 players have gone on to play in the majors, including such stars as Randy Johnson, Mark McGwire, Aaron Boone, Bret Boone, Jeff Cirillo, Barry Zito, Geoff Jenkins, Jacque Jones, Mark Prior, Tom Seaver, Fred Lynn, Roy Smalley and Ron Fairly.
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