No. 23 USC Hosts UC Riverside Before Challenging Weekend Tournament
March 1, 2005
LOS ANGELES -- The No. 23 USC baseball team (5-2) -- winners of 12 NCAA championships, more than twice as many as any other school -- will continue nonconference action this week by hosting UC Riverside (7-7) on Tuesday (March 1) in a 6 p.m. contest at Dedeaux Field. The Trojans then travel to Round Rock, Texas, for the 2005 Round Rock College Baseball Classic. USC faces No. 15 Texas A&M on Friday (March 4) at 6:30 p.m. Central, No. 12 Rice on Saturday (March 5) at 3 p.m. Central and Nebraska (ranked No. 21 by ESPN/USA Today) on Sunday (March 6) at 10 a.m. Central. Tuesday's game will be broadcast live on usctrojans.com. Due to home event conflicts, all three games in Round Rock will not be broadcast. Gametracker live stats will be available for all four games.
RANKINGS -- USC is ranked No. 18 by ESPN/USA Today Sports Weekly and No. 23 by Baseball America. Texas A&M is ranked No. 15 by Baseball America and No. 20 by ESPN/USA Today Sports Weekly. Rice is ranked No. 7 by ESPN/USA Today Sports Weekly and No. 12 by Baseball America. Nebraska is ranked No. 21 by ESPN/USA Today Sports Weekly. UC Riverside is not ranked.
UC RIVERSIDE NOTES -- UC Riverside is 7-7 on the season after taking two of three last weekend at Arizona. Head coach Doug Smith is 7-7 in his first season at UC Riverside. The team is batting .250 while its pitching staff has a 4.98 ERA. Sophomore catcher Nick Salotti is batting .351 (20-for-57) with four home runs and 13 RBI. Tuesday's pitcher Jose Shaw is 0-0 with a 7.71 ERA (4 2/3 IP, 11 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO, .423 opponents' batting average). USC leads the all-time series with UC Riverside by a 13-4 margin, but the Highlanders won both games in last season's series (10-9 in Riverside and 7-3 at Dedeaux Field).
NO. 15 TEXAS A&M NOTES -- No. 15 Texas A&M is 9-4 on the season after winning three of five games at home last weekend in the Domino's Pizza Aggie Baseball Classic (two wins against Evansville and one against No. 19 Washington). Head coach Mark Johnson is 855-410-2 in his 21st season at Texas A&M. The team is batting .269 while its pitching staff has a 2.40 ERA. Junior infielder Cliff Pennington is batting .429 (18-for-42) with a home run and eight RBI. The Aggies feature a strong 1-2 pitching punch with Kyle Marlatt (2-0, 0.59 ERA) and Jason Meyer (3-0, 1.40). USC leads the all-time series with Texas A&M by a 4-1 margin. The Trojans swept the Aggies in a two-game series in College Station during the 1994 season, the last time both teams faced each other.
NO. 12 RICE NOTES -- No. 12 Rice is 10-2 on the season after winning two of three games last weekend. Head coach Wayne Graham is 592-240 in his 14th season at Rice. The Owls are batting .272 while the pitching staff has a 2.42 ERA. Danny Lehmann is batting .333 (14-for-42) with three home runs and 14 RBI. Junior right-hander Josh Geer is 3-0 with a 1.07 ERA (25 1/3 IP, 16 H, 3 ER, 9 BB, 25 SO). This is the first-ever meeting between USC and Rice.
NEBRASKA NOTES -- Nebraska is 7-0 on the season after a 12-0 win last week against New Mexico and a 6-3 win against Rice. Head coach Mike Anderson is 90-41 in his third season at Nebraska. The team is batting .309 while its pitching staff has a 1.20 ERA. Junior infielder Brandon Buckman is batting .524 (11-for-21) with four RBI. Right-hander Joba Chamberlin is 1-0 with a 0.79 ERA (11 1/3 IP, 0 BB, 19 SO). Nebraska leads the all-time series with USC by a 2-0 margin. The Huskers won the last meeting, 9-6, on March 7, 1984, at Dedeaux Field.
PAC-10 PRESEASON POLL -- In a preseason poll of the Pac-10 coaches, USC was picked to finish fifth in the conference. Stanford (four first-place votes) was picked to win the conference followed by Washington (two votes), Arizona State (two votes), Arizona (one vote), USC, Oregon State, California, UCLA and Washington State.
TROJANS ON THE NET -- All USC baseball games this season (except the Round Rock College Baseball Classic) will be broadcast live on www.usctrojans.com. A rotation of USC students Kevin Shaw, Dan Page, Rob McPherson, Corey Slutsky, Jordan Moore and former Trojan Josh Persell 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 19th season as the Trojans' head coach, has a 702-418-2 (.627) 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 18 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 22 players who have played in the major leagues, including Aaron Boone, Bret Boone, Geoff Jenkins, Jacque Jones, Mark Prior and Barry Zito.
RAIN RAIN GO AWAY -- The Trojans' 2005 schedule has been a wreck with the recent rain storms that have hammered the southern California region. Five games have been postponed due to rain, including one halted game at Cal State Fullerton. The updated schedule is as follows: Tuesday (April 12) vs. Cal State Fullerton at 7 p.m. (Feb. 18 makeup), Wednesday (April 13) at UC Santa Barbara at 2 p.m. (Feb. 22/23 makeup), Wednesday (April 20) at Cal State Fullerton at 5 p.m. (Feb. 20 halted game completion with Feb. 19 makeup after) and Wednesday (May 25) vs. Long Beach State at 7 p.m. (Feb. 11 makeup).
WHEN A WIN IS NOT A WIN -- USC had a 7-2 lead in the eighth at No. 3 Cal State Fullerton on Feb. 20 before the game was halted due to rain (the makeup date will be Wednesday, April 20, at 5 p.m.). The Trojans knocked out Fullerton preseason All-American Ricky Romero in the seventh after sophomore shortstop Hector Estrella hit a three-run homer to left. Estrella had a career-high five RBI while Trojan ace Ian Kennedy is credited for seven innings, allowing two runs with a walk and 10 strikeouts. Kennedy struck out the side in the seventh and retired five of the last six batters he faced via the strikeout. All stats will not count until the completion of the halted game.
THE 700 CLUB -- Head coach Mike Gillespie registered his 700th win for the Trojans on Feb. 13 in a 7-5 win against No. 17 Long Beach State at Dedeaux Field.
OPENING WITH A BANG -- With a 6-0 win on Feb. 8 against San Diego State at Dedeaux Field, the Trojans opened the season with a shutout for the first time since 1988 when USC defeated Cal Poly, 4-0. The Trojan pitching staff recorded 16 strikeouts while allowing just one walk.
PLAYING FOR THE USA -- Junior catcher Jeff Clement and sophomore pitcher Ian Kennedy were members of the 2004 U.S. National Team last summer. Clement and Kennedy won the gold medal at the FISU II World University Baseball Championship in Taiwan. Clement batted .275 (19-for-69) with three home runs and 15 RBI. He aided the team in the 5-2 semifinal win against Chinese Taipei with a grand slam in the bottom of the eighth and was named most valuable player for Team USA in the 33rd Annual USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Game Series in Japan, batting .429 (6-for-14) with a home run and two RBI. Kennedy went 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA (26 IP, 21 H, 10 BB, 40 SO, .219 opponent's batting average). His 40 strikeouts led Team USA. During the tournament, he earned the win in a 5-3 victory against Japan. Kennedy had a no-hitter working through 7 1/3 innings and did not allow a hit until his 100th pitch.
BE LIKE IKE -- Sophomore pitcher Ian Kennedy (Huntington Beach/La Quinta HS), nicknamed 'Ike,' returns as the Trojans' No. 1 starter and is a 2005 Baseball America Preseason All-America third team selection. This season, he is 1-0 with a 2.38 ERA (11 1/3 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 7 BB, 13 SO, .195 opponents' batting average). He struck out the side in the ninth inning in his first appearance on Feb. 8 against San Diego State and outdueled 2004 USA National Team cohort Cesar Ramos in a 4-3 win on Feb. 12 at No. 17 Long Beach State. Against the Dirtbags, Kennedy went six innings, allowing just four hits with one unearned run, two walks and six strikeouts. Last year, he was the first freshman to be the No. 1 pitcher since Randy Flores in 1994. He went 7-2 with a 2.91 ERA and one save (92 2/3 IP, 86 H, 30 ER, 31 BB, 120 SO, .244 opponents' batting average). Kennedy was a selection on the 2004 Baseball America Midseason Freshman All-America team. He pitched six innings, allowing two runs to earn the win at No. 1 Stanford on May 21 with the Trojans' 9-3 victory. Kennedy snapped a personal two-game losing streak on April 16 at Washington State, allowing a run in seven innings of work on six hits with a walk and eight strikeouts. He struck out the side in the third and the seventh innings against the Cougars. In a televised game on March 27 against UCLA, Kennedy threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings, scattering seven hits and striking out eight with one walk in a 5-0 win against the Bruins. On March 12 at No. 22 Mississippi State, he earned the victory with 6 2/3 innings, allowing only one run on five hits with two walks and nine strikeouts. 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. Kennedy 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).
ALL-AMERICAN CATCHER -- Catcher Jeff Clement (Marshalltown, Iowa/Marshalltown HS) is batting .217 (5-for-23) with three doubles and four RBI this season. He went 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI in an 8-2 win on Feb. 27 at No. 13 Stanford. It was the second time he hit two doubles in a game (March 17, 2004, at Tulane). After playing for the 2003 and 2004 U.S. National Team, Clement will be viewed as a possible first-round selection in the 2005 major league draft in June. Clement is a 2005 Baseball America Preseason All-America first team selection and is rated as the fifth best junior prospect among college players in the nation. On Feb. 12 against No. 17 Long Beach State, he held on to the ball during a collision at home plate to end the eighth inning on a double play. After a fly ball to center with the game-tying run on third, Clement showed another reason why his defensive skills have improved. In his 2004 sophomore season, Clement batted .293 (58-for-198) with 10 home runs and 43 while also being named as a semifinalist for the 2004 Johnny Bench Award. He missed the first four games of the season after being diagnosed with mononucleosis in late January. Clement broke his 2004 home run drought with a three-run shot on March 16 at No. 14 Tulane and added another three-run homer on March 19 at South Alabama. On April 4 at No. 14 Arizona State, he went 4-for-5 with a double, home run and two RBI. He homered in back-to-back games on May 1 and 2 at UCLA. Behind the dish, he threw out 27 of 66 runners this season (41%), including four of five runners on March 6 against No. 1 Stanford. As a 2003 freshman, he earned 2003 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors. He batted .298 (62-for-208) and led the Trojans in home runs (21), RBI (53), walks (32), runs (53) and slugging percentage (.649). 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 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. He earned national attention as a high school senior when he set the national high school career mark with 75 home runs.
CUE BALL -- Infielder Matt Cusick (Mission Viejo/Santa Margarita HS) became the first freshman to be the Trojans' leadoff hitter in a season opener since Wes Rachels did it in 1995. Cusick impressed the coaching staff with a strong fall performance and has already proven his ability to be a tough out. This season, Cusick is batting .321 (9-for-28) with a home run and six RBI. On Feb. 15 against San Diego, he delivered a 'cue shot' in the bottom of the ninth with a walkoff, two-run homer with two outs in USC's 7-5 win. He struck out only five times in 95 at-bats during his senior season at Santa Margarita High and batted .389 with three home runs and 21 RBI. He earned Orange County Register All-County first team honors as Santa Margarita went on to win the 2004 CIF Southern Section Division IV championship.
HAMMERIN' HANK(ERD) -- Sophomore outfielder Cyle Hankerd (Covina/South Hills HS) is batting a team-leading .391 (9-for-23) this season with six RBI. He hit a bases-loaded triple on Feb. 13 in a 2-for-4 performance against No. 17 Long Beach State. Last season, he made 49 starts in 50 appearances as a freshman last year, finishing second on the team with a .333 (47-for-141) batting average with a home run and 29 RBI. He recorded seven RBI during the Arizona State series (April 2-4) and collected his first college home run on April 13 at Pepperdine.
A BANNER PITCHER -- Junior pitcher Brett Bannister (Paradise Valley, Ariz./Chaparral HS) has not had a conventional college career and has had to battle numerous injuries. After a standout freshman season in 2002, right elbow injuries and Tommy John surgery last year has kept him out for the past two seasons. He is 2-0 this season with a 2.38 ERA (11 1/3 IP, 12 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO, .255 opponents' batting average). He made his first appearance in three seasons in the Trojans' season opener on Feb. 8 against San Diego State. He earned the win by going three innings and allowing only one hit. On Feb. 27 at No. 13 Stanford, he threw five shutout innings and allowed just three hits for the victory. Bannister, whose father, Floyd, was a 15-year major league pitcher and No. 1 draft selection in 1976, went 8-3 with a 3.56 ERA in his 2002 freshman season. He led the Trojans in innings pitched (86.0), strikeouts (76) and opponents' batting average (.245), making seven starts. He earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors after registering two wins in relief during the UCLA series (May 24-26).
CADDYJACK -- Junior pitcher Jack Spradlin (Bonita/Eastlake HS/Southwestern College) would be a great addition to anyone's golfing foursome. His father, Jack, played golf at San Diego State and has played on the PGA Tour and Senior PGA Tour. Spradlin's resume on the baseball mound is not too bad either. He has an 0-1 record with a 2.84 ERA (12 2/3 IP, 13 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 10 SO, .277 opponents' batting average). He struck out six batters in three scoreless innings on Feb. 8 against San Diego State, including striking out the side in the fifth. Last season at Southwestern College, Spradlin earned 2004 All-America and all-conference honors after going 7-1 with a state-best 0.58 ERA (six earned runs). He made 14 starts and allowed 65 hits in 93 innings with 24 walks and 92 strikeouts.
THERE'S ALWAYS ROOM FOR `R LO' -- Freshman Roberto Lopez (La Mesa/Rancho Bernardo HS) has made an early impact in his 2005 freshman season. Lopez is batting .316 (6-for-19) with three RBI. While playing in center field in the Feb. 13 game against No. 17 Long Beach State, Lopez started a double play to end the eighth inning when he threw a one-hop bullet to the plate to prevent the game-tying run.
HART OF A LION -- Junior third baseman Billy Hart (Tustin/Mission Viejo HS) had a surprising sophomore season, leading the Trojans with a .367 (58-for-158) average. This season, he is batting .292 (7-for-24) with three RBI. Last season, he had two home runs and 29 RBI. He started the season in the outfield and switched to third base, making 34 starts at the hot corner. During the Trojans' eight-game road trip to the South, Hart led the team with a .476 average (10-for-21) including a 3-for-4 day on March 20 at South Alabama, where he hit two doubles with a bases-loaded triple and career-high four RBI in the 12-7 win. He had a season-long 10-game hitting streak from March 17-April 3, batting .429 (15-for-35) with seven RBI. Hart is also a reserve quarterback for the USC football team.
STAR OF THE INFIELD -- Sophomore Hector Estrella (Rosemead/Northview HS) earned the starting shortstop spot with an excellent fall for the Trojans. Estrella is batting .150 (3-for-20) with a team-leading five walks for the Trojans. Last season, Estrella made 16 starts in 27 games and batted .216 (11-for-51) with six RBI and three stolen bases as a 2004 freshman. He batted .345 (40-for-116) with 10 doubles and 26 RBI last summer for the Wenatchee AppleSox of the Pacific International League.
SHARPE AS A TACK -- Junior Blake Sharpe (Moorpark/L.A. Pierce College) has shown versatility this season after being a middle infielder last season. Sharpe has played in right field and at first base for the Trojans this season. He is batting .240 (6-for-25) with two RBI. Last season, Sharpe batted .316 (74-for-234) with two home runs and 28 RBI as a middle infielder. He batted .500 (9-for-18) in four games March 31-April 4, including a 4-for-5 performance on April 2 at No. 14 Arizona State. 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.
CENTER (FIELD) OF ATTENTION -- Sophomore outfielder Daniel Perales (Orange/Mater Dei HS) started in every game as a freshman last season, batting .286 (54-for-189) with two home runs and 34 RBI. Currently, he is batting .200 (3-for-15). Last summer, he earned all-league honors at the Cape Cod Baseball League for the Falmouth Commodores and was named to the 2004 CCBL All-Star Game. He batted .296 (42-for142) with 10 doubles, three home runs and 16 RBI in 40 games with Falmouth and was rated as the No. 24 top prospect in the league by Baseball America. Perales had a four-RBI game on April 17 at Washington State, going 2-for-2 with a double. He had a nine-game hitting streak snapped on March 14 at No. 22 Mississippi State. 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, junior Baron Frost (San Diego/St. Augustine HS) will be utilized in the outfield or as a designated hitter. He is batting .150 (3-for-20) with four RBI for the Trojans. Frost batted .303 (64-for-211) last year with four home runs and 32 RBI. He led the Trojans with 20 doubles. Frost went 8-for-15 in the Arizona State series (April 2-4) with two doubles, a home run and seven RBI. On April 3 against No. 14 Arizona State, he went 3-for-6 with a double, home run and six RBI. Frost has recorded two doubles in a game four times this season (last: March 20 at South Alabama).
THE DUDE -- Freshman Lucas Duda (Riverside/Arlington HS) will be the Trojans' starting first baseman to begin the season. He is batting .176 (3-for-17) with two RBI in his first season at USC. Duda was the 2004 CIF-SS Division I Player of the Year. He earned the save in Arlington's 4-3 win over Long Beach Wilson (against current USC teammates Spencer Pabst and Ryan Schlack) in the CIF Division I Championship game at Dodger Stadium. He earned All-CIF and All-Ivy League honors as a junior after batting .493 with nine home runs and 33 RBI.
WELCOME BACK, KALTER -- Junior pitcher/outfielder Zack Kalter (Phillips Ranch/Western Christian HS/Pasadena CC) is a talented two-player for the Trojans. Kalter was rated as the top pro prospect last summer in the New England Collegiate League after batting .353 with five home runs, 21 RBI and 15 stolen bases while going 1-1 with a 1.47 ERA on the mound (43 IP, 35 H, 7 ER, 12 BB, 34 SO). On the mound for the Trojans this season, Kalter is 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA (10 IP, 14 H, 7 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 8 SO, .341 opponents' batting average). In his 2004 sophomore season at Pasadena (Calif.) CC, Kalter went 7-5 in 14 starts with a 4.15 ERA (95 1/3 IP, 22 BB, 78 SO) and batted .400 (56-for-140) with six home runs, 17 doubles, three triples, 18 stolen bases and 39 RBI.
MEET YOU IN WILLIAMSPORT -- USC has three players who played in the Little League World Series. In the 1996 LLWS, catcher Jeff Clement played for Marshalltown, Iowa, while infielder Blake Sharpe played for the Moorpark, Calif, team. Infielder Matt Cusick played for the South Mission Viejo squad in the 1997 LLWS.
MAKING IT TO THE MAJORS -- During the history of the USC baseball program, a total of 90 former players have made it to the majors. In fact, during the 2004 season, USC could lay claim to having more former players in the majors than any other university in the nation. A total of 14 former Trojans played or were a part of major league rosters (Aaron Boone, Bret Boone, Jeff Cirillo, Morgan Ensberg, Randy Flores, Geoff Jenkins, Randy Johnson, Jacque Jones, Jason Lane, Justin Lehr, Chad Moeller, Eric Munson, Mark Prior and Barry Zito).
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 (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). The Trojans also have the highest winning percentage for all teams (.740) that have played at least 20 games at the CWS.
2004 SEASON RECAP -- The Trojans suffered their first losing season under head coach Mike Gillespie with a 24-32 mark although the team did play the nation's toughest schedule. USC finished in a tie for sixth place in the Pac-10 Conference with a 10-14 record. Jeff Clement and Ian Kennedy earned All-Pac-10 first team honors while Kennedy as the team's No. 1 starter also earned Baseball America Freshman All-America first team recognition.
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 was the final part of a $4 million Dedeaux Field renovation project that included 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.