USC Blazes Trail For Oregon State In NCAA Super Regional Action
June 8, 2005
LOS ANGELES -- The No. 21/18 USC baseball team (40-20) -- winners of 12 NCAA championships, more than twice as many as any other school -- will compete at the 2005 NCAA Super Regional this weekend (June 11-13) against No. 2 Oregon State (44-9) in Corvallis, Ore. The series begins on Saturday (June 11) at 7 p.m., continuing on Sunday (June 12) at 6 p.m. with a third game, if necessary, on Monday (June 13) at 4 p.m. All three games will be televised live on ESPN2 with Rich Cellini and Jerry Kindall calling the action. Live game stats will be available at ncaasports.com.
TROJANS IN THE POSTSEASON -- USC is making its 40th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and its first in three years. The Trojans have a 207-75 record in the postseason. In the last six appearances (1998, 99, 2000, 01, 02, 05), the Trojans have made three trips to the College World Series and registered a 30-12 record in postseason play. Prior to last weekend's regional championship, the Trojans' last appearance came in 2002 as USC swept the NCAA First-Round Regional at Dedeaux Field against BYU (twice) and Cal State Northridge before falling to Stanford in the Super Regional. This is the 12th time in the last 16 regional appearances that USC has had to travel in the first round.
OREGON STATE NOTES -- Oregon State is 44-9 on the season after winning the Corvallis regional last weekend, which featured St. John's, Virginia and Ohio State. The Beavers won the Pac-10 Conference title for the first time since 1952. Head coach Pat Casey is 339-234-4 in his 11th season at Oregon State. The team is batting .321 while its pitching staff has a 2.92 ERA. Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, a 2005 first-round selection, is batting .416 with six home runs, 46 RBI and 22 stolen bases. Friday starter Dallas Buck is 11-1 with a 1.97 ERA (114 1/3 IP, 76 H, 25 ER, 43 BB, 114 SO,. 187 opponents' batting average). USC leads the all-time series by a 33-10 margin. Oregon State took two of three from USC on May 20-22 in Corvallis (5-4, 10-7, 2-12). The Trojans took two of three games from the Beavers in the only postseason meeting between the two schools during the 1963 District 8 Playoffs in Corvallis (6-5, 6-8, 7-5).
COACH'S CORNER -- Mike Gillespie, in his 19th season as the Trojans' head coach, has a 737-436-2 (.628) career record and has led USC to the 1998 national championship, five conference titles (1991, 1995, 1996, 2001, 2002), 15 trips to the NCAA Regionals in 19 years (reaching the regional finals 13 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.
CRAZY LITTLE THING CALLED GLOVE -- This year's squad is on pace to be one of Mike Gillespie's best fielding teams. With only 55 errors through 60 games, the Trojans are fielding at a .975 clip, surpassing the 2001 squad, which produced a .973 fielding percentage and trip to the College World Series.
LEADERS OF THE PAC(K) -- Pitcher Ian Kennedy led the Trojans in the 2005 Pac-10 Conference awards after being named as the conference Pitcher of the Year. Catcher Jeff Clement earned All-Pac-10 honors while a total of six Trojans received honorable mention recognition (Matt Cusick, Hector Estrella, Cyle Hankerd, Billy Hart, Blake Sharpe and Jack Spradlin).
I FEEL A DRAFT IN HERE -- Five Trojans were selected in the 2005 major league baseball draft: catcher Jeff Clement (1st round, Seattle), third baseman Billy Hart (5th, Houston), pitcher Jack Spradlin (8th, Washington), pitcher/outfielder Zack Kalter (19th, Toronto) and pitcher Brett Bannister (20th, Seattle). Trojan players have been drafted a total of 268 times since the 1965 inception of the draft.
RAIN RAIN GO AWAY -- The Trojans' 2005 schedule was a wreck with the rain storms that have hammered the southern California region early in the season. Seven games were postponed due to rain, including one halted game at Cal State Fullerton. The April 3 game at Washington was delayed and played the following day in Seattle.
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 game was resumed on April 20 with the Trojans earning an 11-2 win. USC knocked out Fullerton ace Ricky Romero with seven runs, including Hector Estrella's career-high, five-RBI performance with a three-run homer. Ian Kennedy struck out 10 batters in eight innings for the Trojans.
ON THE SHELF -- Outfielder Daniel Perales injured his back prior to the Arizona State series and will be out for the remainder of the season.
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.
ORANGE BOWL OFFENSE -- It was not Matt Leinart, Pete Carroll and the USC football team at Dedeaux Field, but it was awfully close. On March 1 against UC Riverside, the Trojans rallied from an 8-2 deficit in the fourth to score 19 unanswered runs for a 21-8 victory. It was the most runs scored by USC since a 26-4 win at UCLA on Feb. 23, 2002. Both teams stranded 13 runners and accounted for one grand slam. Catcher Jeff Clement went 1-for-4 with a grand slam and five RBI. As a note, UC Riverside's Matt Cunningham came to bat in three consecutive innings with the bases loaded, hitting a three-run double in the third, a grand slam in the fourth and lining out to second in the fifth for a seven-RBI night.
BACK-TO-BACK SHUTOUTS -- The Trojan pitching staff recorded its first back-to-back shutouts on March 19-20 against Stony Brook (10-0) and UC Irvine (5-0) since USC accomplished the feat on Feb. 6-8, 1988. Brett Bannister had a complete game shutout against Stony Brook, the first individual CG shutout by a Trojan since Anthony Reyes on May 29, 2001, against Fresno State at the 2001 NCAA First-Round Regional. With another back-to-back performance (April 9-10 against UCLA), the Trojans threw back-to-back shutouts twice in a season for the first time since 1971.
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.
REPEAT PERFORMANCE? -- Ian Kennedy has been invited to the 2005 USA Baseball National Team Trials to be held in June in Raleigh, North Carolina.
BE LIKE IKE -- Sophomore pitcher Ian Kennedy (Huntington Beach/La Quinta HS), nicknamed 'Ike,' has been the Trojans' No. 1 starter for two seasons and on May 30 was named 2005 Pac-10 Conference Pitcher of the Year. He earned 2005 Collegiate Baseball All-America first team honors and was a 2005 Baseball America Preseason All-America third team selection. This season, he is 12-2 with a 2.58 ERA (111 2/3 IP, 81 H, 32 ER, 36 BB, 150 SO, .203 opponents' batting average). In Pac-10 games this season, he was 7-1 with a 2.12 ERA (59 1/3 IP, 42 H, 14 ER, 17 BB, 88 SO, .200 OBA). He struck out 14 in seven innings on May 13 against Washington State, allowing one run on four hits with two walks. On May 3, he earned his second Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors of the season after striking out 14 batters in eight scoreless innings at No. 9/10 Arizona on April 29, allowing just three hits against a Wildcat team that was batting .328 prior to the game. In the 13-0 shutout, Kennedy and the Trojans gave Arizona starter John Meloan his first loss in 18 career starts. This season, Kennedy has defeated four front-line pitchers (all on the road): John Meloan (Arizona), Ricky Romero (Cal State Fullerton), Cesar Ramos (Long Beach State) and Tim Lincecum (Washington). Kennedy recorded two 'victories' in two days on April 20 at No. 2 Cal State Fullerton and April 22 at Cal. In the resumption of a halted game from Feb. 20, Kennedy went eight against against the defending national champion Titans, allowing two runs on six hits with a walk and 10 strikeouts. He pitched seven innings on Feb. 20 and one inning on April 20 for the win. He improved to 7-1 on the season at Cal with seven innings as he allowed two earned runs with no walks and seven strikeouts. On April 9 against UCLA on a televised broadcast, Kennedy threw his first complete game with a three-hit shutout, walking two and striking out a career-high 15 batters in a 9-0 victory. He earned his first Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors for his efforts against UCLA. Kennedy struck out a then career-high 13 batters on April 1 at Washington in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out six straight batters in a 2-1 win against the Huskies. He took the loss on March 4 against Texas A&M at the Maxwell Auto Group Round Rock Classic, but opened the game by striking out the first seven batters he faced and finishing with 10 strikeouts for the game. 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.
THEY LIKE IKE -- Kennedy is a semifinalist for three major national awards: the 2005 Roger Clemens Award, the Xanthus-Dick Howser Trophy and the Brooks Wallace College Player of the Year Award.
LEADER OF THE PAC -- Ian Kennedy was named on May 31 as the 2005 Pac-10 Conference Pitcher of the Year. Kennedy becomes the eighth Trojan to receive the honor since the award was created in 1991. He is the first USC pitcher to win it since Mark Prior in 2001.
IN A ZONE -- Despite a rough start on May 20 at Oregon State (five runs in a 5-4 loss), Kennedy has been red-hot with an 9-1 record and 1.90 ERA in his last 10 starts with six of those games on the road (Washington, Cal State Fullerton, Cal, Arizona, Oregon State and Long Beach State at the NCAA First-Round Regional). In 75 2/3 innings, he has allowed 55 hits with 16 earned runs, 16 walks and 101 strikeouts. He has registered double digits in strikeouts in five of his last 10 starts.
THE KING OF K'S -- Ian Kennedy is putting himself in good company based on his strikeout numbers. As of June 8, Kennedy would hold the school career record for strikeouts per nine innings (11.89), surpassing the top mark (11.52) held by Mark Prior (2000-01).
USC Career Strikeouts Per Nine Innings 1 Ian Kennedy, 2004-05 11.89 2 Mark Prior, 2000-01 11.52 3 Rik Currier, 1998-2001 10.27 4 Peter Kenney, 1960-62 9.53 5 Spiro Psaltis, 1979-81 9.52 Other Notables Seth Etherton, 1995-98 9.47 Tom Seaver, 1965-66 8.00 Randy Johnson, 1983-85 7.62(Note: Career marks at USC are based on at least two seasons - Barry Zito played only one season, 1999).
KENNEDY (2004) -- Last year, Ian Kennedy 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).
CATCH A RISING STAR -- Catcher Jeff Clement (Marshalltown, Iowa/Marshalltown HS) became the 38th Trojan to be selected in the first round of the major league baseball draft on June 7 when the Seattle Mariners made him the third overall pick. This season, he is batting .347 (75-for-216) with 17 doubles, 13 home runs and 50 RBI this season and a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award as the nation's top collegiate catcher, as well as a finalist for the 2005 Golden Spikes Award. He has 44 walks and leads the team with a .474 on-base percentage. Behind the plate, Clement has thrown out 24 of 58 runners (41%) and had one pickoff at second base. Clement also earned 2005 USA Today Sports Weekly All-America first team and Collegiate Baseball All-America first team honors, as well as garnering his third consecutive All-Pac-10 Conference honor. He hit home runs in back-to-back games May 28-29 against Stanford at Dedeaux Field. His 11th home run of the season came on May 21 at Oregon State, a solo shot to right. Clement went 4-for-5 with a double and home run on April 23 at Cal. He had a season-high, 15-game hitting streak snapped on April 12 against Cal State Fullerton. 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). He clubbed his first home run of the season with a grand slam on March 1 against UC Riverside. Clement hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the seventh on March 6 in a 5-4 win against No. 21 at the Maxwell Auto Group Round Rock Classic. He went 2-for-3 with two home runs and four RBI on March 11 in a 6-1 win over No. 21 Texas Tech at the Public Storage Classic at Dedeaux Field. His sixth homer of the season came on March 29 at Loyola Marymount in a 3-for-4 performance with a single, double and two RBI. 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.
CLEMENT (2003 & 2004) -- In his 2004 sophomore season, Clement batted .293 (58-for-198) with 10 home runs and 43 RBI 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.
CLEMENT'S CAREER CLUBBINGS -- Catcher Jeff Clement would need a ton of homers to catch USC career leader Mark McGwire, but he is now in third place on the all-time list:
USC Career Home Runs 1 Mark McGwire, 1982-84 54 2 Geoff Jenkins, 1993-95 45 3 Jeff Clement, 2003-05 44 4 Eric Munson, 1997-99 43 5 Morgan Ensberg, 1995-98 40
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. This season, Spradlin served as a long reliever and spot starter before being moved into the weekend rotation. On June 7, Spradlin was an eighth-round pick in the MLB draft by the Washington Nationals. He has a 6-3 record with a 4.14 ERA (113 IP, 115 H, 52 ER, 29 BB, 92 SO, .264 OBA). Spradlin earned NCAA First-Round Regional All-Tournament honors after throwing 183 pitches in three days over two starts. He threw 12 2/3 innings, allowing 13 hits, five runs, one walk and eight strikeouts, making two starts as well. During a five-game span (March 15-April 12), Spradlin allowed only one run in each of his five starts (37 2/3 IP, 28 H, 7 BB, 29 SO). Spradlin struck out a season-high 10 batters on May 15 in a 7-2 win against Washington State (7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 SO). He scattered four hits in eight innings for his third victory of the season on April 8 against UCLA. Spradlin threw his first complete game on April 2 at Washington in a 5-1 victory, scattering nine hits with two walks and four strikeouts. 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.
KOSS AND EFFECT -- Sophomore Paul Koss (Orange/Orange Lutheran HS) is the Trojans' closer this season. He is 3-1 this season with a 2.56 ERA and 14 saves (45 2/3 IP, 35 H, 13 ER, 20 BB, 35 SO, .217 OBA). Koss is fifth on USC's all-time single-season list, one behind Jason Garner (1995). During the NCAA First-Round Regional, he recorded three saves with 3 2/3 scoreless innings (four hits, no walks and three strikeouts). He recorded his tenth save on May 15 against Washington State with two no-hit innings. He threw a perfect inning on April 23 at Cal for his ninth save. On April 5 against Pepperdine, he allowed just one run in 2 2/3 innings for the save despite facing bases-loaded situations twice. He threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings to earn the save on March 24 against Arizona State. Koss retired four straight batters with two strikeouts to earn his third save of the year on March 12 against No. 19 Wichita State. He earned his first collegiate win on March 6 against No. 21 Nebraska, throwing a career-high 3 1/3 innings. Koss earned saves in back-to-back contests against No. 17 Long Beach State on Feb. 12 and 13.
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. This season, Cusick is batting .315 (67-for-213) with four home runs and 32 RBI. Cusick was named most outstanding player at the NCAA First-Round Regional after batting .750 (9-for-12) with five runs, three doubles and four RBI. In fact, he was 9-for-10 in the first three games after a 4-4 performance on June 5 against Pepperdine. He has a .425 average (17-for-40) in his last 12 games. He had a season-long, 10-game hitting streak snapped on May 1 at Arizona and hit .439 during the streak. 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.
HART OF A LION -- Junior third baseman Billy Hart (Tustin/Mission Viejo HS) is batting .321 (72-for-224) with three home runs and 34 RBI. On June 7 in the MLB draft, Hart was a fifth-round selection by the Houston Astros. Hart had a four-RBI performance on May 22 at No. 3/5 Oregon State in a 12-2 win. He hit his first home run of the season on March 11 in a 6-1 win against No. 21 Texas Tech. On March 29 against Loyola Marymount, he knocked in four RBI with a two-run homer and two-run triple. Last season, he had two home runs and 29 RBI and led the team with a .367 batting average (58-for-158). 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 also played as a reserve quarterback for the USC football team during its back-to-back national championship run.
STAR OF THE INFIELD -- Sophomore Hector Estrella (Rosemead/Northview HS) earned the starting shortstop spot with an excellent fall for the Trojans, but recently has played at second base. Estrella is batting .278 (49-for-176) with three home runs and 25 RBI. He earned NCAA First-Round Regional All-Tournament honors after batting .222, but playing spectacular defense. On April 29 in a 13-0 shutout at No. 9/10 Arizona, he went 4-for-5 including a two-run triple. He had a career-high five RBI, along with a home run, on April 20 at No. 2 Cal State Fullerton with all five runs coming off Fullerton ace Ricky Romero. Estrella's two-run homer in the second inning held up in a 2-1 win on April 1 at Washington. 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.
HAMMERIN' HANK(ERD) -- Sophomore outfielder Cyle Hankerd (Covina/South Hills HS) is batting .305 (64-for-210) this season with a home run and 39 RBI. On April 12 against No. 2 Cal State Fullerton, he hit a bases-loaded double with two outs in the eighth for USC's 4-2 win. Hankerd earned most valuable player honors at the 2005 OCYSF-UC Irvine Tournament (March 18-20) after going 7-for-11 (.636) with two doubles and six RBI. On March 18 vs. Nevada, he went 3-for-4 with two RBI and 2-for-3 with three RBI on March 20 against UC Irvine. He hit a bases-loaded triple on Feb. 13 in a 2-for-4 performance against No. 17 Long Beach State and 3-for-5 with a double, triple and three RBI on March 1 against UC Riverside. 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.
IT'S THE `V' ERA -- Junior utility Darin Vieira (San Jose/Bellarmine Prep) has bounced back for the Trojans after going 1-for-24 (.042) at the plate last year. He is batting .249 (42-for-169) this season with five home runs and 32 RBI. Vieira had a career-high, four RBI performance on May 22 at No. 3/5 Oregon State, adding his fifth home run of the season on a two-run shot to right. He also led the Trojans with three RBI in a 9-3 win on May 18 at Notre Dame. He hit his fourth home run of the season on April 29 in a 13-0 shutout at No. 9/10 Arizona and snapped a 3-3 tie with a two-run shot in the sixth on April 22 at Cal for the Trojans' 7-4 victory. He produced his first collegiate homer on April 8 against UCLA, adding three RBI on the day.
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 four positions for the Trojans this season (right field, first base, shortstop and second base). He is batting .298 (71-for-238) with 15 doubles, three triples, five home runs, 33 RBI and 11 stolen bases. During the Washington State series (May 13-15), Sharpe went 9-for-13 (.692) with a triple, home run and seven RBI to earn Pac-10 Player of the Week honors. As the leadoff hitter on May 14, he reached base safely in all six plate appearances, going 4-for-4 with a home run and career-high five RBI. He went 4-for-4 with a leadoff homer on April 10 in a 6-0 shutout against UCLA. On March 12 against No. 19 Wichita State, he recorded his first career five-hit game with a 5-for-5 effort and two doubles. He went 2-for-3 with two doubles and four RBI on March 1 against UC Riverside. 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.
BULL IN THE PEN -- Freshman right-hander Anthony Encinas (Norwalk/Santa Fe HS) has had difficulty in his five starts this season (0-4 with a 16.36 ERA, 20 runs in 11 innings), but opponents should look out when he comes out of the bullpen. This season, Encinas is 7-0 with a 1.38 ERA in 14 relief appearances (39 IP, 25 H, 6 ER, 14 BB, 33 SO, .179 opponents' batting average). He threw 5 1/3 no-hit innings on May 22 at No. 3/5 Oregon State and five innings on May 14 against Washington State, allowing a run on three hits with six strikeouts.
THE RED BARON -- This season, junior Baron Frost (San Diego/St. Augustine HS) has played in the outfield and served as a designated hitter. He is batting .269 (50-for-186) with four home runs and 28 RBI for the Trojans. He hit his first home run of the season on May 1 against Arizona off closer Mark Melancon. On May 13 against Washington State, Frost hit a grand slam to go with a career-high five RBI evening in the 9-1 win. 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, 2004) with two doubles, a home run and seven RBI and went 3-for-6 with a double, home run and six RBI in the April 3 game.
WELCOME BACK, KALTER -- Junior pitcher/outfielder Zack Kalter (Phillips Ranch/Western Christian HS/Pasadena CC) is a talented two-player for the Trojans and a 2005 20th-round pick by the Toronto Blue Jays. On the mound for the Trojans this season, Kalter is 2-3 with a 2.25 ERA (36 IP, 42 H, 9 ER, 13 BB, 26 SO, .302 opponents' batting average). At the plate, Kalter is batting .239 (16-for-67) and made his first start of the season in center field on May 20 at Oregon State. 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. 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).
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 4-3 this season with a 4.98 ERA (47 IP, 53 H, 26 ER, 17 BB, 36 SO, .286 OBA) and was a 19th-round pick in the 2005 draft by the Seattle Mariners. Bannister returned to action on May 7 against Cal State Northridge and made his first start on May 14 after not pitching since March 25 vs. Arizona State when he had inflammation in his right elbow. 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. He earned his third win of the season on March 12 against Wichita State, tying his personal bests in innings pitched (6 1/3) and strikeouts (seven). After allowing two runs and four hits in the first inning against the Shockers, Bannister retired 16 of the next 17 batters faced. It only took a week for him to top that with his first career complete game shutout on March 19 against Stony Brook. He allowed just three hits with two walks and five strikeouts to earn most valuable pitcher honors for the 2005 OCYSF-UC Irvine Tournament. Against Stony Brook, Bannister did not allow a runner to advance past second base and retired 14 straight batters during one stretch. 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).
PIANO MAN -- Freshman Roberto Lopez (La Mesa/Rancho Bernardo HS) is batting .258 (25-for-97) with a home run and 20 RBI. Lopez hit his first collegiate home run with a three-run shot to break a 5-5 tie in the seventh on May 10 at San Diego State. 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. Although he can not read music, Lopez is an accomplished piano player and can speak Spanish and French.
THE DUDE -- Freshman Lucas Duda (Riverside/Arlington HS) has been playing at first base and a designated hitter this season. Duda suffered a left wrist injury on March 25 against Arizona State and made his first apperance on April 26 against Loyola Marymount. He is batting .213 (16-for-75) with a home run and 11 RBI. He clubbed his first collegiate home run on March 19 against Stony Brook with a three-run homer. 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.
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.
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.