It's Postseason Or Bust For USC This Week
May 22, 2007
LOS ANGELES -- The USC baseball team (26-26, 8-13) is in a must-win situation for an NCAA Tournament berth as the Trojans complete their 2007 regular season. The Trojans travel to UC Santa Barbara (23-27) on Wednesday (May 23) at 2 p.m. before hosting Stanford (24-28, 6-15) in a Pac-10 Conference series, Friday-Sunday (May 25-27). Friday's game begins at 7 p.m. with a 1:30 p.m. start on Saturday and 1 p.m. start on Sunday. Senior Day will take place on Sunday for USC's 2007 senior class. All four games this week will be broadcast live on usctrojans.com.
UC SANTA BARBARA NOTES -- UC Santa Barbara is 23-27 overall this season. Head coach Bob Brontsema is 371-375-2 in his 14th season at UC Santa Barbara. The Gauchos are batting .290 as a team with a 5.79 ERA. Robbie Blauer leads the team with a .398 batting average, along with four home runs and 41 RBI. USC leads the all-time series with UCSB by an 87-31-1 margin as the Trojans defeated the Gauchos, 7-5, last Wednesday at Dedeaux Field.
STANFORD NOTES -- Stanford is 24-28 on the season and 6-15 in Pac-10 Conference play this season. Head coach Mark Marquess is 1,281-645-5 (.665) in his 31st season at Stanford. The Cardinal is batting .299 as a team with a 6.07 ERA. Michael Taylor is batting .327 this season with 10 home runs and 48 RBI. USC leads the all-time series with Stanford by a 207-164-2 as the Trojans took two of three games earlier this season in Palo Alto.
TROJANS ON THE NET -- USC baseball games this season will be broadcast live on usctrojans.com with live video webcasts for every home game, courtesy of Trojans' All-Access. A rotation of USC students will handle the majority of the broadcasts while baseball sports information director Jason Pommier will handle selected road games.
TOUGHEST IN THE NATION -- According to the latest Boyd's World.com rankings, USC has the No. 1 toughest schedule in the nation.
RPI RANKING -- The NCAA released its latest Ratings Percentage Index on May 13 and USC was rated at No. 43, thanks to having one of the toughest schedules in the nation.
TROJANS IN THE MAJORS -- During the history of the USC baseball program, a total of 94 former players have made it to the majors. The 2006 season proved to be a tremendous year for USC as 17 former Trojans played at least one game in the major leagues (Aaron Boone, Brian Bannister, Jeff Cirillo, Morgan Ensberg, Seth Etherton, Randy Flores, Ron Flores, Geoff Jenkins, Randy Johnson, Jacque Jones, Jason Lane, Justin Lehr, Chad Moeller, Eric Munson, Mark Prior, Anthony Reyes and Barry Zito). Matt Chico (2002) became the Trojans' latest player to make it to 'The Show', making his major league debut as a left-handed starter on April 4 for the Washington Nationals.
TROJANS IN THE MINORS -- Ian Kennedy (New York Yankees - A)...Kennedy is 4-1 with a 1.43 ERA with a .184 opponent average against him for the Tampa Yankees...he struck out a season-high 11 batters on Tuesday at Dunedin, allowing two hits in 6 2/3 innings.
YOUNG GUNS -- USC baseball has adopted a philosophy used by the football program. The Trojans have brought in young talent and are willing to throw them into the starting lineup immediately. This season, USC's starting staff comprises of three sophomores (Tommy Milone, Ryan Cook and Anthony Vasquez) and one freshman (Brad Boxberger). Another freshman, Kevin Couture, is one of the lead relievers out of the bullpen with two other freshmen in the mix (Robert Stock and Hector Rabago). Two sophomores Nick Buss and Anthony Vasquez have seen time in the outfield as well as a starting freshman shortstop (Grant Green).
BACK IN BLACK -- First-year head coach Chad Kreuter has brought a 'new school' approach to USC's baseball uniforms. The Trojans now have a black cap with a cardinal bill to go with a black regular and sleeveless jersey that will be used for selected games.
EVERYONE GETS TO PLAY -- A total of 18 different position players have made at least one start this season. Chad Kreuter and his coaching staff have the flexibility to use different lineups against a left-handed or right-handed starter. On the mound, 14 Trojan pitchers have made at least one appearance in 2007.
CLOSE SHAVE -- In USC's 52 games so far this season, 24 of them have been decided by two runs or less. USC is 9-6 in one-run games and 5-4 in two-run games.
SPEED KILLS -- The 2007 squad has 56 stolen bases on the season, the highest team total in five seasons. The 2004 team had 44 stolen bases with the 2002 team having the highest number (67) in the past six seasons. A total of 15 different players have at least one stolen base this season.
FAMOUS RELATIVES -- Senior catcher Johnny Bowden's great-great-grandfather is the brother of Florida State head football coach Bobby Bowden's grandfather while junior outfielder Will Rice is the cousin of NFL star wide receiver, Jerry Rice.
A GRAND TIME AT DEDEAUX -- The March 14th game against Portland was the 1,000th game played at Dedeaux Field since its inception in 1974. USC defeated Portland, 2-1.
DON'T ARRIVE LATE -- Not only was the March 14th game against Portland the 1,000th game at Dedeaux Field, it was also the quickest game in the last 10 years as USC and Portland played a game clocked at one hour and 58 minutes.
`GO CRAZY, FOLKS!' -- Jack Buck, the late legendary broadcaster for the St. Louis Cardinals, would have used his famous call after the team's 2006 World Series championship which involved two former Trojans. Anthony Reyes set the tempo as the Game 1 starter for the Cardinals, allowing just two runs in eight innings while retiring 17 Detroit Tigers in a row. Left-handed reliever Randy Flores was a key in the Cardinals' bullpen, earning the win in Game 7 of the National League Championship series against the New York Mets in Shea Stadium.
THE MILLIONAIRES CLUB -- For the current major league baseball season, a total of seven former Trojans will be making at least $1 million dollars. Barry Zito signed a seven-year, $126-million contract with the San Francisco Giants for a healthy $18 million a year. Randy Johnson was traded from the New York Yankees to the Arizona Diamondbacks, earning over $15 million. Geoff Jenkins (Milwaukee), Jacque Jones (Chicago Cubs) and Mark Prior (Chicago Cubs) also enjoy seven-figure incomes. Morgan Ensberg and Jason Lane signed one-year contracts with the Houston Astros in late January and will make $4.35 and $1.05 million, respectively. Left-handed reliever Randy Flores signed a two-year deal with the St. Louis Cardinals in the offseason. Flores will make $800,000 this season and join the 'club' next year when he makes $1 million.
USING THE CRYSTAL BALL -- In Baseball America's annual list of the Top 100 College Prospects, two Trojans earned recognition. Senior right-hander Paul Koss is rated at No. 54 while junior infielder Matt Cusick is ranked No. 80.
TROJANS PICKED SIXTH IN PAC-10 -- USC was picked to finish sixth in the Pac-10 Conference, according to the preseason coaches poll. The Trojans were slotted behind Arizona State, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA and Arizona. Cal was picked seventh, followed by Washington State and Washington.
KREUTER'S KORNER -- On June 2, 2006, Chad Kreuter became just the fourth head baseball coach at USC in the past 77 years. Kreuter was named head coach after his father-in-law, Mike Gillespie, announced his retirement. Kreuter took the position after starting the 2006 season as the manager for the Modesto Nuts of the California League, the single A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. He spent the 2005 season as director of operations for the USC baseball program after retiring from the major leagues. In a career that spanned 17 seasons, Kreuter played in a total of 944 games with a .237 career average, 54 home runs, 274 RBI and .990 fielding percentage. He started with the Texas Rangers in 1988 and later played with the Detroit Tigers, Seattle Mariners, Anaheim Angels, Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Dodgers. His best season came in 1993 with Detroit, batting .286 (107-for-374) with 15 home runs and 51 RBI. During his career, Kreuter worked with top-flight pitchers such as Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Eric Gagne, Kevin Brown, Charlie Hough, Frank Tanana, Bill Gullickson, Walt Terrell, James Baldwin, Chuck Finley, Mark Langston, Robb Nen, Kenny Rogers and Chan Ho Park. He played collegiately at Pepperdine for three seasons (1983-85).
TOP FIVE RE-KREUTER -- First-year head coach Chad Kreuter picked up the nickname 'Ruh' last summer after capping the 2007 recruiting class with catcher/pitcher Robert Stock. Baseball America rated USC's class as the third-best in the nation behind Baylor and South Carolina while the class was rated No. 5 in the nation by Collegiate Baseball. Baseball America also ranked the top five newcomers in the Pac-10 Conference with two Trojans being named: Stock at No. 1 and shortstop Grant Green at No. 3.
GREEN ACRES: THE PLACE TO BE -- Freshman Grant Green (Anaheim Hills/Canyon HS) is the first true freshman to start as USC's shortstop since Seth Davidson in 1998. He is also making a hard charge for Freshman All-America consideration. This season, he is batting .325 (67-for-206) with two home runs, 10 triples and 23 RBI. Green leads the team with 20 multi-hit games this season, including five games where he has recorded three hits. He has committed just two errors in his last 20 games and has hit safely in 23 of his last 25 games. On March 27 at UC Riverside, he hit a double and triple in an 8-3 win. He hit his first collegiate home run on Feb. 18 at San Diego State, part of a 3-for-6 day with two RBI. Before his collegiate career, Green was a member of the 2005 U.S. Junior National Team, batting .412 with six RBI and two stolen bases at the 2005 Pan-Am Championships. As a standout infielder at Canyon HS, he earned All-CIF Division I, Orange County Register and all-league first team honors as a senior after batting .453 with four home runs, 22 RBI and 14 stolen bases. He hit the game-winning RBI in the 11th inning of the 2006 North/South All-Star Game. He batted .455 (40-for-88) in his junior season with three home runs, 30 RBI and 14 stolen bases. He was named 2004 Century League Rookie of the Year as a sophomore after batting .430 (31-for-72) with eight doubles and 22 RBI.
TRIPLE YOUR PLEASURE -- Grant Green set the school season record for most triples when he hit his ninth triple of the season on April 24 against Cal State Fullerton. Green surpassed the previous record held by Ed Simpson (1953), Gerald Mason (1954) and Steve Kemp (1975). As of May 16, Green is third in the nation with a 0.19 triples per game average.
KOSS AND EFFECT -- Senior right-hander Paul Koss (Orange/Orange Lutheran HS) is back as one of the nation's top closers after difficulties as a junior in 2006. Koss is 3-3 with a 3.00 ERA and 16 saves (27 IP, 29 H, 9 ER, 8 BB, 24 SO, .276 opponents' batting average). His 16 saves are among the nation's top leaders. He earned the save with 1 2/3 scoreless innings on May 13 at No. 14 Arizona. This season, Koss has recorded back-to-back saves at Washington (April 20-21), at Stanford (March 9-10) and at Georgia (March 2-4), He got the win on Feb. 11 in a 4-3, 10-inning win at No. 17 San Diego. As a member of the Chatham A's of the Cape Cod Baseball League last summer, Koss went 2-0 with four saves in 11 appearances without allowing a run. In 13 2/3 innings, he allowed six hits, walked seven and struck out 17 and played in the 2006 CCBL All-Star Game.
SAVING THE DAY -- Paul Koss is second on USC's all-time saves list with 36 career saves. Jack Krawczyk (1995-98) holds the USC career record with 49 saves (his NCAA mark was recently eclipsed by UC Irvine's Blair Erickson). He passed Dan Hubbs (1991-93) for third place on Feb. 6 at Loyola Marymount with his third save in as many opportunities and passed Brian Nichols (1985-88) for second place on March 2 at Georgia.
KOSS (2006) -- Koss went 0-8 with a 6.28 ERA and six saves last season for the Trojans. In 38 2/3 innings, he allowed 50 hits, walked 20 and struck out 37. After giving up two runs in back-to-back appearances to begin the season, Koss allowed just two earned runs in 20 straight appearances (22 2/3 innings from Feb. 12-April 23). He threw two no-hit innings against Oregon State on March 19 for this third save of the year. A key save came on April 13 at No. 13 Arizona State when he struck out the side in the ninth to preserve the 13-12 victory.
KOSS (2005) -- Koss recorded 14 saves as a 2005 sophomore, placing him fifth on USC's all-time single season list. He went 4-1 with a 2.81 ERA (51 1/3 IP, 39 H, 16 ER, 21 BB, 42 SO). He retired the final 11 batters he faced in a dramatic 9-8 win in 10 innings on June 12 at No. 2 Oregon State in the NCAA Super Regional to earn his fourth victory of the season. 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. 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.
MAN IN A BOX -- Freshman right-hander Brad Boxberger (Tustin/Foothill HS) has been impressive in his first collegiate season, putting up Freshman All-America numbers. This season, Boxberger is 3-5 with a 2.99 ERA (84 1/3 IP, 67 H, 28 ER, 33 BB, 68 SO, .218 opponents' batting average). Despite a 5-2 loss on May 12 at No. 14 Arizona, he allowed three runs on seven hits with a walk and eight strikeouts in seven innings. On April 20 at Washington, he went seven innings and allowed only one run on three hits with nine strikeouts for the win at Washington. At No. 9 Oregon State on April 6, he earned the win with seven strong innings where he allowed just one run on three hits with five strikeouts. Despite a loss to No. 17 Arizona State on March 24, he struck out a season-high nine batters. On March 10 at Stanford, he allowed only one run on six hits in the no-decision. He recorded his first collegiate win on March 3 at Georgia by going six innings and allowing two runs on four hits with four walks and seven strikeouts. On Feb. 11 at No. 17 San Diego, he threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings and allowed four hits with four walks and three strikeouts. He allowed four unearned runs in his collegiate debut on Feb. 3 at Long Beach State, going five innings and allowing four hits with a walk and four strikeouts.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON -- It was easy for Brad Boxberger to decide where to go to school since his father, Rod, was an All-American pitcher at USC. Rod went 12-1 with a 2.00 ERA for USC's national championship team in 1978 and was the most valuable player at the College World Series.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON (PART 2) -- Here is a comparison between Brad's freshman season (2007) and his father's freshman season in 1976:
W-L ERA G-GS IP H ER BB SOBrad (2007) 3-5 2.99 13-13 84.1 67 28 33 68Rod (1976) 2-7 3.69 21-10 78.0 72 32 58 46
CUE BALL -- For his 2007 junior season, Matt Cusick (Mission Viejo/Santa Margarita HS) moves back to second base after playing at third last season. He was named to the 2007 Wallace Watch by the College Baseball Foundation. This season, Cusick is batting .312 (59-for-189) with 32 RBI and nine stolen bases. He has a current season-high 11-game hitting streak. His RBI triple in the top of the ninth paved the way for a 4-3 win on March 2 at Georgia, setting the tone as the Trojans went on to sweep the host Bulldogs. On Feb. 17 at San Diego State, he led a key three-run rally in the ninth with an RBI triple as part of USC's 5-4 win. He hit the game-winning RBI in the 10th on Feb. 11 in a 4-3 win at No. 17 San Diego. Last summer, Cusick batted .304 (41-for-135) with two home runs and 12 RBI for the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod Baseball League. He earned All-Cape Cod League honors and played in the Cape Cod League All-Star Game while having the fourth-highest batting average in the league. He had a .425 on-base percentage and struck out just 12 times.
CUSICK (2006) -- Cusick started every game and earned All-Pac-10 honors as a 2006 sophomore. He was second on the team with a .369 (83-for-225) batting average with four home runs and 35 RBI. He led the team with 43 walks and a .486 on-base percentage. In 225 at-bats, he struck out just 11 times during the season and led the team with 27 multi-hit games, including 10 three-hit games. He had a season-high, nine-game hitting streak from March 21 through April 9 where he batted .471 (16-for-34) with 10 walks and seven RBI. During the UCLA series, he led off two straight games with a home run. His lone four-hit game came on May 13 at UCLA and batted .538 (7-for-13) with a home run and four RBI in the Pac-10 series at Stanford (April 1-2). He hit a home run in a 2-for-4 game with three RBI on March 7 against UC Irvine. Cusick went 3-for-5 with a double, triple and four RBI on March 4 against Georgia.
CUSICK (2005) -- As a freshman, Cusick was the first freshman to be the leadoff hitter in a season opener since Wes Rachels did it in 1995. Cusick was third on the team last year with a .311 batting average (70-for-225), earning him All-Pac-10 honorable mention recognition. He hit four home runs and 35 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 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.
IRON CHEF -- Sophomore right-hander Ryan Cook (Clovis/Clovis HS) is a valuable member of USC's starting rotation. He is 7-3 this season with a 4.64 ERA (87 1/3 IP, 103 H, 45 ER, 27 BB, 52 SO, .303 opponents' batting average). He went eight innings and scattered eight hits while allowing just two runs for the win on April 21 at Washington. On March 2 at Georgia, Cook allowed three unearned runs on nine hits with no walks and seven strikeouts. He recorded his first complete game as a Trojan on Feb. 16 against San Diego State, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts. His first win came on Feb. 9 against No. 17 San Diego, going seven innings and allowing two runs on six hits. He did not figure in the decision on Feb. 2 in USC's 2-1 win against Long Beach State (6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO).
COOK (2006) -- Cook spent the majority of his 2006 freshman season as a weekend starter, going 4-4 with a 5.97 ERA. In 13 starts, Cook threw 69 1/3 innings and allowed 93 hits with 34 walks and 31 strikeouts. His fourth win of the season came on April 8 against California, going seven innings and giving up two runs on seven hits with four strikeouts. His longest stint of the season came on April 2 at Stanford with 8 1/3 innings with only one run on four hits while striking out five. Cook earned the win on March 19 against No. 13 Oregon State with five innings, allowing one run on five hits with four walks and three strikeouts. He recorded his first collegiate win on March 11 against No. 16 Stanford with 5 1/3 innings of work, giving up three runs (two earned) on eight hits. He made his collegiate debut on Feb. 5 at No. 22 Long Beach State and did not figure in the decision after allowing three runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.
LOPEZ DISPENSER -- Junior outfielder Roberto Lopez (La Mesa/Rancho Bernardo HS) is batting .303 (23-for-76) this season with seven RBI and three stolen bases. He has made 25 starts in 31 games this season for the Trojans. He had three hits on April 29 against Washington State, his third three-hit game of the season. As a 2005 freshman, Lopez made 32 starts in 53 games and batted .264 with one home run and 21 RBI.
PABST BLUE RIBBON -- Junior outfielder Spencer Pabst (Long Beach/Wilson HS) is batting .304 (14-for-46) this season with two RBI and 10 stolen bases. He has been used as a defensive replacement and pinch runner, but has 15 starts in 37 games. On April 21 at Washington, he went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two stolen bases.
THE DUDE -- Junior Lucas Duda (Riverside/Arlington HS) makes the switch to left field after two seasons at first base. This season, he is batting .273 (47-for-172) with six home runs and 31 RBI. On April 6 at No. 9 Oregon State, he hit two triples including a two-run hit to break a 1-1 tie in the eighth during USC's 4-1 victory. He went 3-for-4 with two RBI on March 27 at UC Riverside. Duda had a career day on March 25 against No. 17 Arizona State with two home runs and six RBI. He hit a grand slam as part of an eight-run sixth inning against the Sun Devils and gave USC the 14-13 win with a walkoff, two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. He hit a three-run homer in USC's 6-4 win on Jan. 30 in the season opener against Cal Poly. Over the summer, he batted .273 (59-for-216) with eight home runs, 12 doubles and 49 RBI for the Alexandria Beetles of the Northwoods League. He was named as a Northwoods League All-Star and also earned the Silver Glove Award at first base.
DUDA (2006) -- Last season for the Trojans, Duda appeared in 54 games as a 2006 sophomore. He batted .298 (57-for-191) with three home runs and 36 RBI. He also stole four bases in six attempts. He recorded a 4-for-9 day with two doubles, a triple and two RBI in the doubleheader at Stanford on April 1 and went 6-for-12 with four RBI in the Stanford series (March 10-12). On March 4 against Georgia, he went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI with his home run tying the game at eight apiece in the fifth, leading to a 12-11 win. He clubbed his first homer of the season on Feb. 4 against Long Beach State and had a four-hit game on Feb. 7 at UC Riverside.
DUDA (2005) -- In his 2005 freshman season, Duda played at first base and also was a designated hitter before suffering a left wrist injury on March 25 against Arizona State. Duda did not play again until April 26 against Loyola Marymount. He finished with a .208 (16-for-77) average with a home run and 11 RBI. Duda was the 2004 CIF-SS Division I Player of the Year and 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.
STAR OF THE INFIELD -- Senior infielder Hector Estrella (Rosemead/Northview HS) has played at third base this season after being the team's starting shortstop last year. He is batting .287 (50-for-174) with two home runs, 27 RBI and four stolen bases. His two-run single in the eighth provided the eventual winning runs in a 10-8 win on April 29 against Washington State. He tied a personal best with five RBI on April 7 at No. 9 Oregon State where he also hit a grand slam. During the Stanford series (March 9-11), he went 5-for-14 with seven RBI. He had three hits on Feb. 16 against San Diego State. Last summer, Estrella earned all-tournament honors with the Santa Barbara Foresters squad that won the 2006 NBC World Series in Wichita, Kansas. The Foresters went undefeated and beat the Derby (KS) Twins, 8-7, in the championship on Saturday for the team's first-ever title in the 16-day tournament. He went 2-for-5 in the championship with an RBI and finished the summer with a .380 average (76-for-200) with 40 RBI and a team-leading 24 stolen bases.
ESTRELLA (2006) -- As the team's starting shortstop in 56 of 58 games, Estrella batted .289 (57-for-197) with three home runs and 30 RBI as a 2006 junior. He also had 14 doubles and two triples. He went 5-for-11 (.455) with a double, triple and solo home run in the Florida International series (Feb. 10-12). He recorded a season-high 13-game hitting streak snapped on April 14 at No. 13 Arizona State. On April 11 against UC Riverside, he went 2-for-5 with a grand slam and four RBI in the Trojans' 17-9 victory. He had two doubles in a 2-for-4 night on May 10 at No. 2 Cal State Fullerton and went 3-for-5 with a double and three RBI on May 12 at UCLA. He finished the season with a streak of hitting safely in 13 of the team's final 14 games.
ESTRELLA (2004 and 2005) -- Estrella batted .271 (51-for-188) in his 2005 sophomore season with three home runs and 28 RBI, earning him All-Pac-10 honorable mention recognition. 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. He made 16 starts in 27 games and batted .216 (11-for-51) with six RBI and three stolen bases as a 2004 freshman.
STOCK MARKET -- After bypassing his senior year in high school to enroll at USC in the fall of 2006, catcher/right-handed pitcher Robert Stock (Westlake Village/Agoura HS) is one of the most interesting stories in college baseball as a 2007 freshman, having turned 17 years old last November. He is one of the team's starting catchers, but also has the ability to be one of the team's closers on the mound. He is batting .254 (35-for-138) with four home runs and 20 RBI. On the mound, Stock is 2-1 with a 3.70 ERA and two saves (24 1/3 IP, 16 H, 10 ER, 12 BB, 20 SO, .198 opponents' batting average). He hit his fourth homer of the season on May 16 against UC Santa Barbara along with a season-high three RBI. He recorded a win in the Georgia series (March 2-4 in Athens, Ga.) with 2 2/3 innings of relief in the March 4 victory and hit a home run in Friday's game. Stock recorded his first win on the mound with 2 1/3 no-hit innings on Feb. 24 against No. 21 Tulane. During the weekend series against No. 17 San Diego (Feb. 9-11), Stock recorded two saves as well as hitting his first collegiate home run in a pinch-hit duty on Feb. 10. He made his first collegiate appearance on Feb. 9, going two innings and giving up only one hit with a strikeout. On Feb. 11 in the Trojans' 4-3, 10-inning win, Stock started as the catcher (throwing out two runners at second) and got the call to go on the mound in the 10th inning, recording the final two outs for the save.
STOCK (BEFORE USC) -- As a member of the 2004 and 2005 U.S. Youth National Team, Stock was named 2005 Baseball America Youth Player of the Year after his junior season at Agoura High. He batted .456 with six home runs and 25 RBI while posting a 5-3 record with a 2.69 ERA with a fastball clocked as high as 95 miles per hour. Behind the plate, he committed only one error and threw out almost 70% of all base runners. He also played in the 2006 Aflac All-American Classic in San Diego where he was the starting pitcher for the West squad and allowed two unearned runs in one inning before striking out the side. In the game, he showed his hitting prowess later in the game with a solo home run to center field. He batted .400 with eight home runs in his sophomore season. Baseball America named him as the top player in the nation in his age group three years in a row (age 13, 14 and 15). Along with his Baseball America honors, Stock was named Player of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and earned All-CIF first team honors. His Agoura team reached the CIF Division I final, losing to Lakewood, 2-1, despite Stock throwing six shutout innings and going 3-for-3 at the plate.
CHILI CON CARNE -- Sophomore center fielder Nick Buss (Clinton Township, Mich./De La Salle HS/San Diego Mesa CC), whose middle name is Chili, is batting .291 (50-for-172) this season with a home run, 13 RBI and six stolen bases. Buss had a season-high four hits on May 20 at California. He had two doubles on April 5 at No. 9 Oregon State. Buss hit his first home run as a Trojan on Feb. 13 at Pepperdine with an opposite-field solo shot. On Feb. 6 at Loyola Marymount, he recorded his first three-hit game for the Trojans. Buss earned All-Southern California second team and All-Pacific Coast Conference first team honors as a 2006 freshman after leading San Diego Mesa CC with a .382 (66-for-173) batting average. He scored 30 runs and recorded 22 RBI while stealing 21 bases in 25 attempts. He was selected in the 35th round of the 2006 amateur draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
TORRID PACE -- Sophomore Michael Torres (Santa Ana/Mater Dei HS) has been utilized as a middle infielder and an outfielder. This season, Torres is batting .256 (20-for-78) with a home run, 10 RBI and four stolen bases. He hit his first collegiate home run on March 24 against Arizona State with a solo shot to center. On March 9 at Stanford, he went 4-for-5 with two RBI and had three hits on March 3 at Georgia.
BOWDEN BOWL -- Senior catcher Johnny Bowden (Springfield, OR/Chandler-Gilbert CC) is batting .308 (24-for-78) with two home runs and seven RBI. He went 2-for-4 with a double, home run and two RBI on Feb. 9 in a 6-2 win over No. 17 San Diego. Last season, he batted .274 (34-for-124) with two home runs and 17 RBI. He hit his first collegiate homer on April 22 against Washington. On April 8 against Cal, he hit a go-ahead, two-run double in the Trojans' 3-2 win. He had a season-high five RBI on March 11 against No. 16 Stanford with a 3-for-4 day, adding two doubles.
OWEN ON THE OFFENSIVE -- Senior J.J. Owen (Santa Ana/Mater Dei HS/Cal Poly) has been seeing regular action as of late at first base for the Trojans. He is batting .263 (42-for-160) with three home runs and 30 RBI. He hit two home runs in a game for the first time in his career on April 5 at No. 9 Oregon State. On March 3 at Georgia, he snapped a 2-2 tie in the sixth with a two-run single in the Trojans' 4-2 win. His two-run single in the fifth proved to be the game-winner on He had three RBI on Feb. 17 at San Diego State, including the game-winning RBI to cap a three-run rally in the ninth. He followed that with a career-high four RBI, hitting two doubles and a home run against the Aztecs. Owen went 2-for-3 as a DH on Feb. 4 against Long Beach State.
RIVERSIDE RABAGO -- Freshman infielder/right-handed pitcher Hector Rabago (Riverside/Poly HS) is one of several two-way threats on the Trojans' roster. He is batting .235 (12-for-51) with two home runs and nine RBI. On the mound this season, Rabago has a 2-1 record with a 5.10 ERA and one save (30 IP, 31 H, 17 ER, 14 BB, 24 SO, .270 opponents' batting average). He threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings on May 14 at No. 14 Arizona to record his first collegiate save. Rabago hit his first collegiate home run on April 5 at No. 9 Oregon State. He earned his first collegiate win on Feb. 23 against No. 2 Tulane with 3 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing only one hit in the Trojans' 8-5 victory. He was a four-year varsity letterwinner at Poly High where he was a three-time all-county selection as well as a two-time Riverside Press Enterprise first team selection. He earned All-CIF Division I first team honors after batting .437 with seven home runs, 32 walks, 31 runs and 26 RBI in his senior season. He helped Poly to the 2006 CIF Division I semifinals and was the Ivy League co-most valuable player and earned all-league honors. In his junior season, he was named 2005 Los Angeles Times Player of the Year for the Inland Empire area after batting .384 with nine home runs, 30 runs and 44 RBI while going 6-1 on the mound with a 2.30 ERA. In 45 2/3 innings as a junior, he struck out 53 batters while earning All-CIF Division I honors as a junior.
TOMMY, CAN YOU HEAR ME -- Sophomore left-hander Tommy Milone (Saugus/Saugus HS) is 3-6 this season with a 5.85 ERA (72 1/3 IP, 91 H, 47 ER, 17 BB, 54 SO, .314 opponents' batting average). Milone turned in a career performance on May 14 at No. 14 Arizona with seven scoreless innings. He allowed just five hits with a walk and career-high nine strikeouts to earn the victory. Despite a loss at No. 18 UC Irvine on April 17, he allowed just one earned run in seven innings with five hits, one walk and six strikeouts. Milone struck out six in six innings on Feb. 6 at Loyola Marymount for his second win, allowing two runs on six hits with two walks. He opened the 2007 campaign with a win against Cal Poly on Jan. 30, going six innings and allowing two runs on six hits with no walks and six strikeouts. Last summer, he went 5-1 with a 2.61 ERA and two saves for the Wenatchee AppleSox of the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League. With eight starts and 11 appearances, he threw 51 2/3 innings and allowed 44 hits, 15 earned runs, walked 10 and struck out 36. He also went 20-for-105 at the plate, batting .190 with 11 RBI.
MILONE (2006) -- Last season for the Trojans, Milone went 7-4 with a 4.94 ERA in 16 starts and started the season with a 7-0 record. In 98 1/3 innings (second-most on the team), he allowed 126 hits and 54 earned runs while walking 21 and striking out 55. He had only one start out of 16 where he allowed more than two walks. He made his collegiate debut on Feb. 4 against No. 22 Long Beach State where he threw four scoreless innings, allowing three hits. He earned his first collegiate win on Feb. 7 at UC Riverside with 4 1/3 innings in relief. He allowed just two runs in six innings with five strikeouts and no walks in a win against No. 15 San Diego at USC's Public Storage Baseball Classic. On March 12 against No. 16 Stanford, he threw seven innings and allowed two runs to get the win and allowed two runs again in eight innings on April 1 at Stanford in the second game of a doubleheader.
COUTURE OF DUTY -- Freshman right-hander Kevin Couture (Coronado/Coronado HS) is another young gun out of the Trojans' bullpen. He has a 2-1 record and a 5.51 ERA (32 2/3 IP, 37 H, 20 ER, 14 BB, 38 SO, .294 opponents' batting average) this season. Couture earned his first collegiate win on Feb. 17 at San Diego State with 1 2/3 innings, allowing one earned run on three hits. He threw two perfect innings with three strikeouts on Feb. 6 at Loyola Marymount. The two-time San Diego Union-Tribune selection played at Coronado under coach Sam Ceci, a member of USC's 1970, 1971 and 1972 national championship squads.
REMEMBER THE ALAMO -- Sophomore outfielder/pitcher Anthony Vasquez (San Antonio, Texas/Texas A&M) adds another two-way player to the lineup. He is batting .173 (9-for-52) with six RBI. On the mound, Vasquez is 3-6 with a 5.16 ERA (66 1/3 IP, 82 H, 38 ER, 20 BB, 37 SO, .301 opponents' batting average). His second win of the season came on March 14 against Portland where he registered his third quality start in a row, going seven innings and allowing just one run on five hits. He earned his first win as a Trojan on Feb. 27 against Loyola Marymount with seven innings, allowing just one run on five hits with no walks and five strikeouts. In a pinch-hit appearance on Feb. 18 at San Diego State, Vasquez hit a three-run double as the Trojans rallied with four runs in the inning. In his 2006 freshman season at Texas A&M, Vasquez went 0-1 on the mound with a 3.78 ERA and two saves while batting .231 (3-for-13) with two RBI. In 23 appearances as a pitcher, he threw 33 1/3 innings while allowing 37 hits, nine walks and 25 strikeouts with opponents batting .270 against him.
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 second-most wins (74) at the CWS and is third for most appearances (21). The Trojans also have the highest winning percentage for all teams (.740) that have played at least 20 games at the CWS.
DEDEAUX FIELD: EXTREME MAKEOVER -- One of Chad Kreuter's first tasks as head coach was to make Dedeaux Field one of the top collegiate facilities on the West Coast. The traditional red-colored outfield wooden fence was torn down and replaced with a safer chain-linked fence which is covered by green padding. In June, the batting cages on the third base side will be redone and future plans will add improved lighting and a new video scoreboard.
REVAMPED STAFF -- Chad Kreuter has added two new assistant coaches for the 2007 season, joining pitching coach Dave Lawn, who returns for his seventh season at Troy. Bill Mosiello will handle the infielders after serving as a manager in the New York Yankees' farm system. Mosiello managed for two seasons with the Charleston RiverDogs of the South Atlantic League after spending 15 seasons at the collegiate level with Cal State Fullerton, Tennessee, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Arizona State. Tim Burton joins the staff and will assist with the outfielders. Burton, who also teaches in the USC physical education department, has an eight-year coaching career that includes stops at Riverside Community College and Cal Poly Pomona.
TROJAN 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 are 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.
THE 'OTHER' HALLS OF FAME -- Former USC pitcher Tom Seaver was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame with a 98.8% vote, which remains the highest percentage ever for an inducted member. In the summer of 2006, legendary coach Rod Dedeaux was a member of the inaugural class for the College Baseball Hall of Fame in Lubbock, Texas. Another USC addition will be made this summer when former outfielder Fred Lynn is inducted. He appeared on three consecutive USC national championship squads (1971, 1972 and 1973) and had a career .320 average with 28 home runs and 111 RBI. He also earned 1971 All-College World Series honors for the Trojans.
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