Baseball Travels To Pepperdine And UCLA

Feb. 12, 2001

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RANKINGS -- USC is ranked No. 1 in the latest ESPN/USA Today Baseball Weekly poll, No. 2 by Baseball America and No. 3 by Collegiate Baseball. Pepperdine is ranked No. 14 in Baseball America, No. 20 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 22 by ESPN/USA Today Baseball Weekly. UCLA is not ranked.

LAST WEEK -- USC went 3-1 with a midweek win over Cal State Fullerton (6-5) and taking two of three from Long Beach State (6-2, 10-1, 5-9). Against Cal State Fullerton, the Trojans rallied with a game-tying, solo home run by Bill Peavey in the bottom of the eighth and a game-winning, pinch-hit single in the 13th inning by Abel Montanez. The Trojans took the first two games of the series against Long Beach State with strong pitching performances by Mark Prior (7 1/3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 10 SO) and Rik Currier (7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 5 SO). USC self-destructed in the final game of the series with two errors and three straight walks by Trojan pitchers in a six-run 49er rally in the pivotal seventh inning.

PEPPERDINE NOTES -- Pepperdine is off to its best start (6-0) since 1999. The Waves opened the season with a 5-2 win against Cal State Fullerton. Senior infielder Jared Pitney leads the team with a .462 batting average with two home runs and five RBI while Woody Cliffords has a .440 batting average with five RBI. Daniel Haren, the Waves' starter for Tuesday's game, is 2-0 on the season with a 2.25 ERA. In 12 innings this season, Haren has allowed 11 hits, struck out 11 and walked two. Head Coach Frank Sanchez is in his fifth season at Pepperdine after serving as Mike Gillespie's top assistant at USC from 1987-96. USC has a 74-27-1 all-time series record with Pepperdine.

UCLA NOTES -- UCLA is 6-2 on the season and has won its last six straight after suffering losses to UC Riverside (6-10) and Hawaii (11-2). The Bruins will host UC Santa Barbara on Tuesday before this weekend's series. UCLA has outscored its opponents by a 65-17 margin during the winning streak. Senior Brian Baron leads the team with a .556 batting average to go along with one home run and eight RBI. Senior Eric Reece is batting .452 with two home runs and a team-leading 16 RBI. Josh Karp, the starter for Friday's game, has a 1-0 record with a 0.69 ERA. He has 17 strikeouts in 13 innings of work with five walks. Gary Adams is in his 27th season as head coach at UCLA. USC leads the all-time series with UCLA by a 226-99 margin.

PAC-10 PRESEASON POLL -- In a preseason poll of the Pac-10 coaches, USC was picked 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, Washington and Washington State.

COACH'S CORNER -- Mike Gillespie, in his 15th season as the Trojans' head coach, has a 569-314-2 (.643) career record and has led USC to the 1998 national championship, three conference titles (1991-95-96), 12 trips to the NCAA Regionals in 14 years (reaching the regional finals 10 times), and trips to the 1995, 1998 and 2000 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 three times (1991-95-96) 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.

FRESH CUT LAWN -- Dave Lawn joins the coaching staff this season, replacing John Savage as the team's pitching coach and recruiting coordinator. Savage took over the head coaching position at UC Irvine, which is scheduled to begin play next year. Lawn served as an assistant coach the past 10 years at California. He was instrumental with recruiting classes that were ranked in the Top 30 nationally from 1991 to 1998, including 1998 National Freshman of the Year Xavier Nady (San Diego Padres). He also served last summer as manager for the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod League. The Whitecaps won the league championship and set the franchise record with 28 wins during the regular season.

YOUNG (ALL) AMERICANS -- The Trojans have three possible All-America candidates on the roster this season. Senior pitcher Rik Currier already has a couple of honors to his credit after earning Collegiate Baseball and The Sporting News All-America second team honors last season. Currier is a preseason All-America first teamer this season, according to Collegiate Baseball. Senior shortstop Seth Davidson was named to the 1999 All-America third team by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers' Association and was a Freshman All-America first teamer in 1998. Junior pitcher Mark Prior was selected this season as a preseason All-America second teamer by Collegiate Baseball and earned Freshman All-America second team honors while at Vanderbilt in 1998.

OFFENSIVE ONSLAUGHT -- Despite losing Justin Gemoll and Beau Craig, who each hit 18 home runs last year, the Trojans have not missed a beat at the plate. This year, USC scored 10 runs or more in the first three games of the season (11, 19 and 10) for the first time since 1951. Troy's 1951 team opened the season with run totals of 22, 11 and 10 en route to the CIBA Conference championship and a berth in the College World Series. The school record for most runs in a season is held by the 1998 national championship squad with 543 runs (8.23 runs per game). The 2001 Trojans are averaging 11.17 runs per game.

TROJANS' HIT PARADE -- In all seven games this season, the Trojans have recorded 10 or more hits. USC is batting .341 as a team. The school record for team batting average is .335, held by the 1996 squad.

ALL WE NEED IS PATIENCE -- Being patient at the plate has been a key so far this season for the Trojans. USC has walked 40 times this season and struck out 25 times. The lowest number of strikeouts as a team in the past six years was 302 (1996). The last time the Trojans had more walks than strikeouts was 1991 when USC had walked 297 times and struck out 287 times.

A CURRIER OF VICTORIES -- Senior Rik Currier (Dana Point/Capistrano Valley HS) is coming off his best season as a Trojan pitcher, which helped him to start the 2001 season on the Collegiate Baseball Preseason All-America first team. In 2001, Currier is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA. In 15 innings, he has allowed seven hits and has struck out 14 while allowing only three walks. Opponents are hitting a measly .143 against him. On Feb. 10 against No. 17 Long Beach State, he threw a three-hitter in seven innings of work with five strikeouts and no walks in the Trojans' 10-1 win. Last season, Rik Currier earned Pac-10 Conference Co-Pitcher of the Year, along with Stanford's Justin Wayne, and All-America second team honors by Collegiate Baseball and The Sporting News. He was USC's No. 2 pitcher in the rotation for most of the 2000 season, but moved up to the No. 1 spot on April 7 at UCLA when Mark Prior could not pitch due to flu symptoms (Currier remained the Friday pitcher for the rest of the season). He responded by pitching his second complete game of the season in the Trojans' 5-1 win over the Bruins. Currier allowed one run on five hits and struck out a season-high 12 batters while only walking two. For the season, Currier was 15-3 with a 3.31 ERA. In 125 innings of work, Currier allowed 116 hits, walked 56 and struck out 141 batters. He won 10 of his last 11 starts, including wins at No. 1 Georgia Tech in the NCAA Super Regional and against Florida State in the Trojans' opener at the College World Series.

'K'LIMBING UP THE CHARTS -- Rik Currier, with 141 strikeouts last year, is in third place on USC's all-time career list with 343 strikeouts. He has 14 this season and needs 20 to tie Brent Strom (1968-70) for second place and 77 to tie Seth Etherton (1995-98) for first.

Career Strikeouts1. Seth Etherton, 1995-98 420*2. Brent Strom, 1968-70 3633. Rik Currier, 1998-00 343 *Pac-10 record

PRIOR NOTICE -- Junior pitcher Mark Prior (Bonita/USD HS/Vanderbilt) will get a lot of attention in 2001 as many view him as a possible top five pick in this year's major league draft. The 6-5, 220-pound right-handed pitcher was named to the Collegiate Baseball Preseason All-America second team after he registered a 10-7 record with a 3.56 ERA last year. This season, Prior started on a positive note. On Feb. 3 vs. Louisville, he allowed three hits in five innings of work, striking out 10 batters while not allowing a walk. At one point, Prior struck out five straight Cardinals en route to his first win of the season. He continued his strong start on Feb. 9 vs. No. 17 Long Beach State with another 10-strikeout performance. In 7 1/3 innings, Prior allowed two runs on four hits and struck out 10 batters while walking only one batter. For the season, Prior has a 1-0 record with a 1.35 ERA. In 13 1/3 innings, he has allowed eight hits, struck out 22 and walked two with opponents batting .174 against him. In 136 1/3 innings last year, he allowed 126 hits, struck out 150 batters (fourth-most in school history) 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 at No. 1 Georgia Tech at the NCAA Super Regional. With the 6-3 win, the Trojans qualified for the College World Series. He also hit four home runs in 33 at-bats.

DEALING WITH DAVIDSON -- Senior Seth Davidson from San Diego (USD HS) returns to give the Trojans one of the top defensive shortstops in the nation. Along with his prowess on the basepaths (see below), Davidson is one of two current Trojans (Rik Currier being the other one) who were part of USC's 1998 national championship team. Last year, Davidson went 10-for-14 (.714) with a double, home run and six RBI, earning him Most Outstanding Player honors at the NCAA First-Round Regional at Fullerton, Calif. Davidson led the team with 26 stolen bases. He had a 13-game hitting streak snapped on May 19, where he batted .442 with eight stolen bases. He hit safely in 23 of his last 24 games of the season. On May 21 at Washington, he pushed an RBI bunt single to second base to cap the Trojans' three-run rally in the top of the ninth for a 4-3 win.

TO CATCH A THIEF -- Seth Davidson has been climbing the school's career list for most stolen bases. Davidson is tied for second with 54 career steals and needs three to tie the record holder Mark Smith (1989-91). This season, he surpassed Damon Buford (1988-90) and tied John Jackson (1987-90) for second place on Feb. 11 against Long Beach State. Last year, he tied the school record with 26 stolen bases in a season, first set by Aaron Boone (1994).

Career Stolen Bases1. Mark Smith, 1989-91 572. Seth Davidson, 1998-2000 54 John Jackson, 1987-90 54

LUNAR ECLIPSE -- Sophomore second baseman Anthony Lunetta (Riverside/Arlington HS) will look to build on last year's stellar freshman campaign. This year, Lunetta is off to another hot start as he is batting .423 (11-for-26) with a home run, four RBI and three stolen bases. Last year, 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 led the team with 22 doubles. On June 2 at the NCAA Super Regional at No. 1 Georgia Tech, Lunetta hit two home runs in the Trojans' 7-2 win and hit two home runs in a 2-for-4 day with five RBI on April 1 at Arizona. On March 18 at Stanford, Lunetta hit three doubles in a 3-for-6 performance with four RBI in the Trojans' 11-7 win. He also belted two home runs in the Trojans 6-5 win over UC Santa Barbara on March 7 and went 4-for-5 in game two of a doubleheader on March 14 at San Diego. In his collegiate debut on Jan. 29 at Pepperdine, he went 5-for-5 at the plate.

OUT OF THE GATE -- Anthony Lunetta has done well in season openers, going 8-for-9 with two home runs and six RBI in two outings. This year against Santa Clara, Lunetta went 3-for-4 with a double, home run and four RBI while he went 5-for-5 last year at Pepperdine with a home run and two RBI.

BIG BILL FROM BRISBANE -- Senior first baseman Bill Peavey (Brisbane/Serra HS) has exploded at the plate in his final go-around with Troy. Peavey leads the team in batting average (.462, 12-for-26) and runs batted in (12). His lone home run of the season came in timely fashion on Feb. 6 vs. No. 18 Cal State Fullerton when his solo shot tied the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the eighth. The Trojans would win the game, 6-5, in 13 innings.

A REY(ES) OF HOPE -- Sophomore Anthony Reyes (Whittier/California HS) used last year as a transition period as the Trojans' No. 3 starter and received valuable experience behind teammates Rik Currier and Mark Prior. After a summer with the USA National Team, Reyes is ready to establish himself as a top future prospect. Reyes has not recorded a decision in 2001, but is coming off his best start of the season. On Feb. 11 at Long Beach State, he struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings, allowing two earned runs off six hits. In his freshman season with Troy, Reyes went 6-6 with a 4.02 ERA. In 96 and 1/3 innings, he allowed 98 hits, struck out 86 and walked 45 as opponents hit .268 against him. His best performance came on June 14 at the College World Series against Florida State when he struck out a season-high 10 batters in 7 and 1/3 innings, allowing only two runs on three hits.

READY AND ABEL -- Senior Abel Montanez (Montebello/Bishop Amat HS), who was a team manager in 1998, did not make a start last year until April 25 at UC Santa Barbara and then did not leave the starting lineup for the remainder of the season. He has started in five games this season as Troy's left fielder. On Feb. 6 against No. 18 Cal State Fullerton, his pinch-hit single in the bottom of the 13th inning gave USC the 6-5 victory. Last year, Montanez went 7-for-10 (.700), including a pivotal home run (the first of his career) on May 28 vs. Cal State Fullerton in the three-game NCAA First-Round Regional to earn a spot on the All-Tournament team.

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

PERSELL POWER -- Senior Josh Persell (Sherman Oaks/Montclair Prep) is off to a good start for the Trojans, batting .350 (7-for-20) with a home run and three RBI. Last year, he was a power source during the Trojans' post-season run. In eight post-season games, Persell was 11-for-28 with four home runs (all solo home runs) and four RBI. He hit two solo home runs on June 2 at No. 1 Georgia Tech. He hit safely in 15 of his last 16 games. For the season, Persell was second on the team with a .351 batting average (67-for-191) with nine home runs and 40 RBI.

TAKING ONE FOR THE TEAM -- Josh Persell is on pace to set a painful school record. Persell has been hit by a pitch six times this season. The school record is 16, held by Brett Jenkins (1991). Last year, Persell was hit 15 times, good for second place.

BASEBALL HAS BEEN BARRE, BARRE GOOD TO ME -- Junior Brian Barre (Garden Grove/Pacific HS) became the first player to hit a grand slam since Jason Lane hit one against Arizona State on April 24, 1999. Barre hit the grand slam in the sixth inning on Feb. 3 vs. Louisville in the Trojans' 19-4 victory. This season, Barre is batting .421 (8-for-19) with a home run and 11 RBI.

CAREER MARKS -- Here are some updated numbers for USC players currently in the Top 20 lists:- Seth Davidson with 240 hits needs 11 to tie Geoff Jenkins for fourth place.- Davidson with 159 runs scored needs one to tie Wes Rachels for seventh place, seven to tie Bret Boone for sixth place.- Davidson with 54 stolen bases needs three to tie Mark Smith for first place.- Davidson with 38 doubles needs one to tie Mark Smith and Greg Hanoian for 14th place.- Josh Persell with 21 times hit by a pitch needs one to tie Walter Dawkins and Shon Melani for fourth place.- Rik Currier with 28 wins needs one to tie Bill Lee and Greg Widman for ninth place, two to tie Walt Peterson for eighth place.- Currier with 343 strikeouts needs 20 to tie Brent Strom for second place.- Mark Prior with 172 strikeouts needs 32 to tie Randy Johnson for 20th place.

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 three trips to Omaha in the last six years, winning it all in 1998. USC has the most wins (73) at the CWS and is second for most appearances (20) behind Texas.

PLAYING FOR THE U.S.A. -- Head Coach Mike Gillespie held similar duties last year with the United States National Team. USC pitchers Mark Prior and Anthony Reyes were on the team as well. Gillespie guided Team USA to a 27-3-1 record, posting the highest winning percentage (.900) in club history. The team reeled off a 21-game unbeaten streak at the end of the season, including capturing the Haarlem Honkbal Week championship in The Netherlands. Prior was the winning pitcher in the championship game against Cuba.

DEDEAUX FIELD -- This season marks the 27th year of play at Dedeaux Field, where USC has an all-time record of 573-255-1 (.692). When USC hosted San Diego State on March 30, 1999, it was 25 years to the day from when the first game was played at Dedeaux Field. It was a special opening day in 1974, as in the first game of a doubleheader, Russ McQueen threw a no-hitter against California. Dedeaux Field features dimensions of 335 feet down the right and left field lines, 365 in the right field power alleys and 375 to the left field power alleys, and 395 to straightaway center. The surface is a natural grass field and seating is around 1,800. In 1994, Dedeaux Field received a state-of-the-art scoreboard/message center, which was donated by the Port Family in memory of Al Port, whose two 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 the 1997 season, the first base pavilion was turned into modern office facilities for the baseball coaching staff. The foyer of the office now houses the newly created Al Port Trojan Baseball Hall of Fame. Prior to the 2000 season, the most recent project saw the expansion of the press box. Construction for the enlargement and improvement of the Hall of Fame room, coaches' office, locker rooms and the umpires' room will begin after the 2001 season. New additions will include an expanded players' team room, another batting cage, more restrooms and bleacher seating along the first-base side of the stadium, with completion of the project to be completed prior to the 2002 season.

2000 SEASON RECAP -- After a 28-18 start, the Trojans used a 16-game winning streak to propel themselves to a 20th appearance at the College World Series. Despite going 1-2 at the CWS, USC shocked the college baseball world by sweeping No. 1 Georgia Tech in Atlanta in the NCAA Super Regional to earn its ticket to Omaha. The Trojans finished the season with a 44-20 record and a fourth-place finish in Pac-10 Conference play with a 16-8 record, one game behind tri-champions Arizona State, Stanford and UCLA. Pitcher Rik Currier earned Collegiate Baseball and The Sporting News second team All-America honors and was also named Pac-10 Conference Co-Pitcher of the Year. Third baseman Justin Gemoll earned Collegiate Baseball third team All-America honors while second baseman Anthony Lunetta was named Pac-10 Conference Freshman/Newcomer of the Year.

TEAM OF THE 20TH CENTURY -- No other university can match the collegiate baseball tradition of USC, and it showed when Baseball America awarded the Trojans the title of 'Greatest Program of the 20th Century' in its Feb. 1, 1999 issue. Troy has an unprecedented 12 NCAA championships (no other school has more than five), 36 conference titles and 20 College World Series appearances (second most in the nation). Legendary former coach Rod Dedeaux was named 'Coach of the Century' by both Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America. Trojan players have been named All-American first teamers 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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