Baseball Opens Season Wednesday

Jan. 29, 2001

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LOS ANGELES--The USC baseball team -- winner of 12 NCAA championships, morethan twice as many as any other school -- will open the 2001 season onWednesday (Jan. 31) against Santa Clara at 3 p.m. at Dedeaux Field. AfterWednesday's contest, the Trojans will host Louisville for a two-game serieson Saturday (Feb. 3) and Sunday (Feb. 4) with a 1 p.m. start for both games.

Upcoming Games Schedule
Wednesday, Jan. 31 vs. Santa Clara - Dedeaux Field - 3 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 3 vs. Louisville - Dedeaux Field - 1 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 4 vs. Louisville - Dedeaux Field - 1 p.m.
* - Pac-10 conference game All rankings based from Baseball America

USC is ranked No. 2 in the Baseball America and CollegiateBaseball preseason poll and No. 3 in the ESPN/USA Today Baseball Weeklypreseason poll. Santa Clara and Louisville are not ranked in any polls.

Santa Clara returns all nine position starters as wellas two of its top three pitchers from a year ago. The Broncos were 22-37last season and finished third in West Coast Conference play. JackHeadley, last year's WCC Freshman of the Year, led the Broncos with a .380average with 40 RBI. Head Coach Mike Cummins enters his fourth season atthe helm with a 69-99 record. USC holds a 100-32-1 all-time seriesadvantage against Santa Clara.

Louisville will open its 2001 regular season with thetwo-game series against USC, the first of eight games in nine days on aroad trip that will feature stops at Cal State Northridge, Pepperdine and afour-game series at Hawaii. The Cardinals were 17-37-1 last season andfinished eighth in Conference USA play. Senior outfielder Mike Hook batted.279 with 29 stolen bases last year while senior second baseman Matt Jarboehit .341 in 36 starts for the Cardinals. Lelo Prado is in his sixth seasonat Louisville with a record of 126-148-1. This is the first meeting everbetween the two schools.

In a preseason poll of the Pac-10 coaches, USC waspicked to win the conference title. In order, the poll went as follows:USC (six first-place votes), Arizona State (one first-place vote), Stanford(one first-place vote), Arizona, California, UCLA, Oregon State, Washingtonand Washington State.

Mike Gillespie, in his 15th season as the Trojans' headcoach, has a 563-313-2 (.642) career record and has led USC to the 1998national championship, three conference titles (1991-95-96), 12 trips tothe NCAA Regionals in 14 years (reaching the regional finals 10 times), andtrips to the 1995, 1998 and 2000 College World Series (Troy finished as thenation's runner-up in 1995). He was named the 1998 National Coach of theYear, the Pac-10 Coach of the Year three times (1991-95-96) and the WestRegion Coach of the Year twice (1996-98). The starting leftfielder on USC's1961 NCAA-winning team, he is one of just two men who have both coached andplayed on championship teams. Gillespie also was named by the UnitedStates Olympic Committee as the baseball coach of the year after serving asthe head coach for the 2000 U.S. National Team, which posted a 27-3-1record and the best winning percentage in club history.

Dave Lawn joins the coaching staff this season, replacingJohn Savage as the team's pitching coach and recruiting coordinator.Savage took over the head coaching position at UC Irvine, which isscheduled to begin play next year. Lawn served as an assistant coach thepast 10 years at California. He was instrumental with recruiting classesthat were ranked in the Top 30 nationally from 1991 to 1998, including 1998National Freshman of the Year Xavier Nady (San Diego Padres). He alsoserved last summer as manager for the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape CodLeague. The Whitecaps won the league championship and set the franchiserecord with 28 wins during the regular season.

The Trojans have three possible All-Americacandidates on the roster this season. Senior pitcher Rik Currier alreadyhas a couple of honors to his credit after earning Collegiate Baseball andThe Sporting News All-America second team honors last season. Currier is apreseason All-America first teamer this season, according to CollegiateBaseball. Senior shortstop Seth Davidson was named to the 1999 All-Americathird team by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers' Association and wasa Freshman All-America first teamer in 1998. Junior pitcher Mark Prior wasselected this season as a preseason All-America second teamer by CollegiateBaseball and earned Freshman All-America second team honors while atVanderbilt in 1998.

From 1948 to 1978, USC dominated the world of collegebaseball with 11 national championships in 17 appearances at the CollegeWorld Series (the 1948 CWS was held in Kalamazoo, Mich., with the CWSmoving to Omaha, Neb., in 1949). After the 1978 season, the Trojans wentthrough a drought and did not return to Omaha until 1995, when Troy reachedthe national championship game. Since 1995, the Trojans have made threetrips to Omaha in the last six years, winning it all in 1998. USC has themost wins (73) at the CWS and is second for most appearances (20) behindTexas.

Head Coach Mike Gillespie held similar duties lastyear with the United States National Team. USC pitchers Mark Prior andAnthony Reyes were on the team as well. Gillespie guided Team USA to a27-3-1 record, posting the highest winning percentage (.900) in clubhistory. The team reeled off a 21-game unbeaten streak at the end of theseason, including capturing the Haarlem Honkbal Week championship in TheNetherlands. Prior was the winning pitcher in the championship gameagainst Cuba.

Senior Rik Currier (Dana Point/Capistrano ValleyHS) is coming off his best season as a Trojan pitcher, which helped him tostart the 2001 season on the Collegiate Baseball Preseason All-Americafirst team. Last season, Currier earned Pac-10 Conference Co-Pitcher ofthe Year, along with Stanford's Justin Wayne, and All-America second teamhonors by Collegiate Baseball and The Sporting News. He was USC's No. 2pitcher in the rotation for most of the 2000 season, but moved up to theNo. 1 spot on April 7 at UCLA when Mark Prior could not pitch due to flusymptoms (Currier remained the Friday pitcher for the rest of the season).He responded by pitching his second complete game of the season in theTrojans' 5-1 win over the Bruins. Currier allowed one run on five hits andstruck out a season-high 12 batters while only walking two. For theseason, Currier was 15-3 with a 3.31 ERA. In 125 innings of work, Currierallowed 116 hits, walked 56 and struck out 141 batters. He won 10 of hislast 11 starts, including wins at No. 1 Georgia Tech in the NCAA SuperRegional and against Florida State in the Trojans' opener at the CollegeWorld Series.

Rik Currier, with 141 strikeouts last year, isin third place on USC's all-time career list with 329 strikeouts. Hesurpassed Randy Flores and Randy Powers on the list with seven strikeoutsagainst Virginia Tech on May 26, 2000, at the NCAA First-Round Regional atFullerton, Calif.

Career Strikeouts
1. Seth Etherton, 1995-98 420*
2. Brent Strom, 1968-70 363
3. Rik Currier, 1998-00 329
4. Randy Flores, 1994-97 316
5. Randy Powers, 1987-90 312 *NCAA and Pac-10 record

Senior Seth Davidson from San Diego (USD HS)returns to give the Trojans one of the top defensive shortstops in thenation. Along with his prowess on the basepaths (see below), Davidson isone of two current Trojans (Rik Currier being the other one) who were partof USC's 1998 national championship team. Last year, Davidson went10-for-14 (.714) with a double, home run and six RBI, earning him MostOutstanding Player honors at the NCAA First-Round Regional at Fullerton,Calif. Davidson led the team with 26 stolen bases. He had a 13-gamehitting streak snapped on May 19, where he batted .442 with eight stolenbases. He hit safely in 23 of his last 24 games of the season. On May 21at Washington, he pushed an RBI bunt single to second base to cap theTrojans' three-run rally in the top of the ninth for a 4-3 win.

Seth Davidson has been climbing in the school's careerlist for most stolen bases. Davidson is fourth with 52 career steals andneeds just one to tie Damon Buford (1988-90) for third place. The schoolrecord is 57, held by Mark Smith (1989-91). Last year, he tied the schoolrecord with 26 stolen bases in a season, first set by Aaron Boone (1994).

Career Stolen Bases
1. Mark Smith, 1989-91 57
2. John Jackson, 1987-90 54
3. Damon Buford, 1988-90 53
4. Seth Davidson, 1998-2000 52
5. John Wells, 1976-79 50

Junior pitcher Mark Prior (Bonita/USD HS/Vanderbilt) willget a lot of attention in 2001 as many view him as a possible top five pickin this year's major league draft. The 6-5, 220-pound right-handed pitcherwas named to the Collegiate Baseball Preseason All-America second teamafter he registered a 10-7 record with a 3.56 ERA last year. In 136 1/3innings, he allowed 126 hits, struck out 150 batters (fourth-most in schoolhistory) and walked only 46 batters. His best performance came on June 3,2000, when he pitched eight innings and allowed only one run on six hits atNo. 1 Georgia Tech at the NCAA Super Regional. With the 6-3 win, theTrojans qualified for the College World Series. He also hit four home runsin 33 at-bats.

Sophomore second baseman Anthony Lunetta(Riverside/Arlington HS) will look to build on last year's stellar freshmancampaign. He was third on the team with a .343 batting average(80-for-233) and was named Pac-10 Freshman/Newcomer of the Year. He ledthe team with 22 doubles. On June 2 at the NCAA Super Regional at No. 1Georgia Tech, Lunetta hit two home runs in the Trojans' 7-2 win and hit twohome runs in a 2-for-4 day with five RBI on April 1 at Arizona. On March18 at Stanford, Lunetta hit three doubles in a 3-for-6 performance withfour RBI in the Trojans' 11-7 win. He also belted two home runs in theTrojans 6-5 win over UC Santa Barbara on March 7 and went 4-for-5 in gametwo of a doubleheader on March 14 at San Diego. In his collegiate debut onJan. 29 at Pepperdine, he went 5-for-5 at the plate.

Sophomore Anthony Reyes (Whittier/California HS) usedlast year as a transition period as the Trojans' No. 3 starter and receivedvaluable experience behind teammates Rik Currier and Mark Prior. After asummer with the USA National Team, Reyes is ready to establish himself as atop future prospect. In his freshman season with Troy, Reyes went 6-6 witha 4.02 ERA. In 96 and 1/3 innings, he allowed 98 hits, struck out 86 andwalked 45 as opponents hit .268 against him. His best performance came onJune 14 at the College World Series against Florida State when he struckout a season-high 10 batters in 7 and 1/3 innings, allowing only two runson three hits.

Senior Abel Montanez (Montebello/Bishop Amat HS), who wasa team manager in 1998, did not make a start last year until April 25 at UCSanta Barbara and then did not leave the starting lineup for the remainderof the season. Montanez went 7-for-10 (.700), including a pivotal home run(the first of his career) on May 28 vs. Cal State Fullerton in thethree-game NCAA First-Round Regional to earn a spot on the All-Tournamentteam.

Junior Rob Garibaldi (Petaluma/Santa Rosa College)was steady for the Trojans last year at the plate and in the field as thestarting right fielder. Garibaldi finished fourth on the team with a .329batting average and had eight home runs and 44 RBI. He made only threeerrors for a .977 fielding percentage. He had a season-high 10-gamehitting streak snapped on June 2 at Georgia Tech.

Senior Josh Persell (Sherman Oaks/MontclairPrep) was a power source during last year's post-season run for theTrojans. In eight post-season games, Persell was 11-for-28 with four homeruns (all solo home runs) and four RBI. He hit two solo home runs on June2 at No. 1 Georgia Tech. He hit safely in 15 of his last 16 games. Forthe season, Persell was second on the team with a .351 batting average(67-for-191) with nine home runs and 40 RBI.

This season marks the 27th year of play at Dedeaux Field,where USC has an all-time record of 570-255-1 (.691). When USC hosted SanDiego State on March 30, 1999, it was 25 years to the day from when thefirst game was played at Dedeaux Field. It was a special opening day in1974, as in the first game of a doubleheader, Russ McQueen threw ano-hitter against California. Dedeaux Field features dimensions of 335feet down the right and left field lines, 365 in the right field poweralleys and 375 to the left field power alleys, and 395 to straightawaycenter. The surface is a natural grass field and seating is around 1,800.In 1994, Dedeaux Field received a state-of-the-art scoreboard/messagecenter, which was donated by the Port Family in memory of Al Port, whosetwo sons, Randy (1967-69) and Jeff (70-72), both played baseball at USC,and whose grandson, Ryan, also was a part of the program. Prior to the1997 season, the first base pavilion was turned into modern officefacilities for the baseball coaching staff. The foyer of the office nowhouses the newly created Al Port Trojan Baseball Hall of Fame. Prior tothe 2000 season, the most recent project saw the expansion of the pressbox. Construction for the enlargement and improvement of the Hall of Fameroom, coaches' office, locker rooms and the umpires' room will begin afterthe 2001 season. New additions will include an expanded players' teamroom, another batting cage, more restrooms and bleacher seating along thefirst-base side of the stadium, with completion of the project to becompleted prior to the 2002 season.

After a 28-18 start, the Trojans used a 16-game winningstreak to propel themselves to a 20th appearance at the College WorldSeries. Despite going 1-2 at the CWS, USC shocked the college baseballworld by sweeping No. 1 Georgia Tech in Atlanta in the NCAA Super Regionalto earn its ticket to Omaha. The Trojans finished the season with a 44-20record and a fourth-place finish in Pac-10 Conference play with a 16-8record, one game behind tri-champions Arizona State, Stanford and UCLA.Pitcher Rik Currier earned Collegiate Baseball and The Sporting News secondteam All-America honors and was also named Pac-10 Conference Co-Pitcher ofthe Year. Third baseman Justin Gemoll earned Collegiate Baseball thirdteam All-America honors while second baseman Anthony Lunetta was namedPac-10 Conference Freshman/Newcomer of the Year.

No other university can match the collegiatebaseball tradition of USC, and it showed when Baseball America awarded theTrojans the title of �Greatest Program of the 20th Century� in its Feb. 1,1999 issue. Troy has an unprecedented 12 NCAA championships (no otherschool has more than five), 36 conference titles and 20 College WorldSeries appearances (second most in the nation). Legendary former coach RodDedeaux was named �Coach of the Century� by both Collegiate Baseball andBaseball America. Trojan players have been named All-American firstteamers 79 times, and 84 players have gone on to play in the majors,including such stars as Tom Seaver, Fred Lynn, Ron Fairly, Randy Johnson,Mark McGwire, Jeff Cirillo and Bret Boone.

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