USC Begins Rugged Eight-Game Road Trip At No. 22 Mississippi State
March 9, 2004
LOS ANGELES - The USC baseball team (5-9) - winner of 12 NCAA championships, more than twice as many as any other school - travels to No. 22 Mississippi State (7-0) for the National Bank of Commerce Series, beginning on Friday (March 12) at 4 p.m Central. The series will continue on Saturday (March 13) at 2 p.m. and Sunday (March 14) at 1:30 p.m. The three-game set is the first leg of an eight-game road trip that includes stops at Tulane (March 16-17) and South Alabama (March 19-21). All eight games will be broadcast live on usctrojans.com.
RANKINGS - Mississippi State is ranked No. 17 by Collegiate Baseball, No. 22 by Baseball America and No. 25 by USA Today Sports Weekly/ESPN. USC is not ranked.
MISSISSIPPI STATE NOTES - Mississippi State is 7-0 on the season. Head coach Ron Polk is 895-422 in his 23rd season at Mississippi State. The team is batting .375 while its pitching staff has a 1.57 ERA. Sophomore right fielder/pitcher Brad Corley is batting .481 (13-for-27) with two home runs and 12 RBI. USC leads the all-time series with Mississippi State by a 3-0 margin.
LAST WEEK - The Trojans went 2-2 with a nonconference win at UC Irvine (2-0) and losing two of three in a nonconference series at home against No. 1 Stanford. MARCH 7 AT NO. 1 STANFORD - Jeff Clement and Daniel Perales had three hits each as the Trojans used a five-run second to take the lead. Junior Cole Ganser stopped a potential bases-loaded rally in the sixth to earn his first collegiate win as USC snapped a nine-game home losing streak to Stanford, dating back to the 2001 season. MARCH 6 AT NO. 1 STANFORD - The Cardinal rallied with four runs in the ninth to send the game into extra innings and Danny Putnam's RBI single proved to be the game-winner in the 13th. Daniel Perales went 3-for-4 with a triple and four RBI for the Trojans. MARCH 5 AT NO. 1 STANFORD - Mark Romanczuk threw seven shutout innings for the Cardinal. Three Trojan errors led to a four-run fourth for Stanford with Donny Lucy going 3-for-4 on the evening. MARCH 2 AT UC IRVINE - Josh Rummonds, Bret Butler and Ian Kennedy combined on a five-hitter for the shutout. Rummonds pitched six scoreless innings while Kennedy earned his first collegiate save by striking out the side in the ninth.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN - The eight-game road trip to Mississippi State, Tulane and South Alabama (March 12-21) represents the most consecutive road games played by USC without returning home since April 5-14, 1974. During the 1974 road trip, the Trojans played 10 games with stops at Stanford, Arizona State, Oklahoma and Tulsa. Due to construction at Dedeaux Field at the beginning of the 2002 season, the Trojans played 22 'road' games at the start with three 'home' games played at Dodger Stadium.
SCHEDULING THE BEST - According to Baseball America, USC is second in the nation for most games against teams that played in last year's NCAA Tournament. The Trojans have 22 of 56 games scheduled against 2003 NCAA Tournament teams, three behind Cal State Fullerton.
PAC-10 PRESEASON POLL - In a preseason poll of the Pac-10 coaches, USC was picked to finish fourth in the conference. Stanford (seven first-place votes) was picked to win the conference followed by Arizona State (one first-place vote), Arizona (one first-place vote), USC, Washington, California, UCLA, 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 Pete Dalis, Dylan Milner, Kevin Shaw and David Bataller will handle the majority of the broadcasts while baseball sports information director Jason Pommier will handle selected road games.
COACH'S CORNER - Mike Gillespie, in his 18th season as the Trojans' head coach, has a 678-393-2 (.633) 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 17 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 (until it was surpassed by the 2003 squad). During his tenure at USC, Gillespie has coached 21 players who have played in the major leagues, including Aaron Boone, Bret Boone, Geoff Jenkins, Jacque Jones, Mark Prior and Barry Zito.
THE 700 CLUB - Head coach Mike Gillespie needs 22 wins to reach No. 700 at USC. He posted 418 wins at the junior college level in 16 years at College of the Canyons from 1971-86.
CENTER (FIELD) OF ATTENTION - Freshman center fielder Daniel Perales (Orange/Mater Dei HS) is batting .354 (17-for-48) on the season with two home runs and 12 RBI. Currently, he has a seven-game hitting streak (.520, 13-for-25) with two home runs and 10 RBI. On March 6, he went 3-for-4 with a triple and four RBI against No. 1 Stanford. Perales earned co-most valuable player honors at the 2004 Kia Baseball Bash in Fullerton after going 6-for-11 (.545) with four runs scored, two home runs and four RBI.
THE RED BARON - This season, sophomore Baron Frost (San Diego/St. Augustine HS) has seen action as a catcher, left fielder and designated hitter. Frost is batting .375 (18-for-48) with five RBI. Nine of his 18 hits this season are doubles. He hit two doubles in a 9-2 win on Feb. 27 against No. 5 Georgia Tech at the Kia Baseball Bash in Fullerton and had two more doubles on March 6 in an 8-7 loss against No. 1 Stanford.
SHARPE AS A TACK - Sophomore transfer Blake Sharpe (Moorpark/L.A. Pierce College) earned the starting shortstop position in the fall and has shown his offensive skills early in the 2004 season. Sharpe has a .377 batting average (20-for-53) with two home runs and nine RBI. On Feb. 14 against No. 9 Long Beach State, he went 4-for-4 with a home run and four RBI in a 6-4 win.
I LIKE IKE - Pitcher Ian Kennedy (Huntington Beach/La Quinta HS), nicknamed 'Ike,' is the first freshman to be the Trojans' No. 1 pitcher since Randy Flores in 1994. Kennedy was impressive in his first start on Feb. 13 at No. 9 Long Beach State, throwing five innings and allowing one run (unearned) on one hit with three walks and eight strikeouts. He is 2-0 this season with a 1.50 ERA and one save (24 IP, 16 H, 4 ER, 7 BB, 37 SO, .186 opponents' batting average). He struck out the side in the ninth on March 2 to earn his first collegiate save in a 2-0 win at UC Irvine. He struck out 10 batters in five innings on Feb. 27 to earn the win against No. 5 Georgia Tech, allowing two runs on five hits. On Feb. 20 against Louisville, Kennedy struck out 11 batters in seven shutout innings of work while giving up two hits and not allowing a walk. He was a member of the 2002 U.S. Junior National Team and started for the team at the 2002 IBAF World Junior Championships in the bronze medal game, but did not get a decision in a 12-3 win (7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 10 SO).
SUPERMAN IN METROPOULOS - Junior first baseman Joey Metropoulos (Jamul/Monte Vista HS) is batting .327 (17-for-52) with four home runs and 10 RBI this season. He also has three stolen bases. His first homer came on Feb. 15 at No. 9 Long Beach State in a 6-2 loss. On Feb. 27 against No. 5 Georgia Tech, he hit two solo home runs in a 9-2 win. Metropoulos, a 16th-round selection by the Detroit Tigers in the 2001 draft, batted .321 last year (67-for-209) with 11 home runs and 41 RBI. He earned 2002 Baseball America Freshman All-America honors after batting .352 with 13 home runs and 65 RBI. He showed his power with a pinch-hit three-run homer on March 8, 2002, 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.
ALL-AMERICAN CATCHER - Catcher Jeff Clement (Marshalltown, Iowa/Marshalltown HS) earned national attention as a high school senior when he set the national high school career mark with 75 home runs and continued his home run prowess last year at USC in his freshman season. This season, he is batting .200 (8-for-40) with three RBI. He missed the first four games of the season after being diagnosed with mononucleosis in late January. He has thrown out six of 16 runners this season (38.0%), including four of five runners on March 6 against No. 1 Stanford. Clement earned 2003 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors and was named Collegiate Baseball Freshman National Co-Player of the Year. He batted .298 (62-for-208) and led the Trojans in home runs (21), RBI (53), walks (32), runs (53) and slugging percentage (.649). This year, Clement earned 2004 Baseball America Preseason All-America first team and NCBWA Preseason All-America first team honors. During the South Alabama series (Feb. 14-16) last year, 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. During the week of March 18-23, he went 7-for-16 (.438) with three home runs, a double and nine RBI, along with five walks and eight runs scored against San Diego and Arizona, earning him Pac-10 Conference Player of the Week honors for the second time. On March 21 at Arizona, he hit two home runs in the same inning as the Trojans scored eight runs in the third. Clement registered three home runs in the May 16th game against Washington State in a game that was broadcast regionally on television.
PASS THE TEST - Sophomore pitcher Bobby Paschal (Northridge/Chaminade HS) earned his first victory on Feb. 14 against No. 9 Long Beach State by throwing six innings and allowing one run on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts. This season, Paschal is 1-3 with a 4.86 ERA (16 2/3 IP, 23 H, 9 ER, 9 BB, 11 SO, .329 opponents' batting average). Paschal went 3-7 last season with a 5.43 ERA, making 13 starts in 16 apperances. In 69 2/3 innings, he allowed 73 hits, walked 30 and struck out 67 batters.
MEET YOU IN WILLIAMSPORT - USC has three players who played in the Little League World Series. Junior pitcher Matt Cassel (Northridge/Chaminade HS) played in the 1994 LLWS. In the 1996 LLWS, catcher Jeff Clement played for Marshalltown, Iowa, while shortstop Blake Sharpe played for the Moorpark, Calif, team.
FROM THE GRIDIRON TO THE DIAMOND - Cassel and sophomore outfielder Billy Hart (Tustin/Mission Viejo HS) have the distinction of being USC's latest football/baseball athletes. Cassel played as a quarterback and tight end on the 2003 national championship football team while Hart served as a backup quarterback. In January, Cassel joined the baseball team for the first time. Hart played in 42 games last season for the Trojans, batting .238 (20-for-84) with a home run and four RBI.
90 CANDLES - Before the Feb. 14 regular season home opener against Long Beach State, the USC baseball program celebrated former head coach Rod Dedeaux's 90th birthday in grand fashion. Three members of the major league baseball Hall of Fame (Tom Seaver, Tommy Lasorda and Dodgers' announcer Vin Scully) spoke during the ceremony. Seaver was a pitcher at USC in 1965. Former Trojan and major leaguers Roy Smalley and Don Buford, along with former Dodgers' owner Peter O'Malley were also present.
30 CANDLES - The 2004 season marks the 30th season of Dedeaux Field. The first game took place on March 30, 1974, as Russ McQueen threw a no-hitter in a 7-0 win against California. With a capacity of 2,500, Dedeaux Field has been used in the production and filming of several motion pictures, including 'Mr. Baseball,' 'The Big Leaguer,' 'A League Of Their Own,' and 'For Love Of The Game.'
BASEBALL HALL OF FAME - On Feb. 1, 2003, 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. The major league uniforms of former Trojans are also on display.
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 nine 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 (30).
2003 SEASON RECAP - The USC Trojans finished the 2003 season with a 28-28 overall record and finished in a tie for fifth place in the Pac-10 Conference with an 11-13 mark. The Trojans failed to reach the postseason for the first time in 10 years.