Baseball Battles Top-Ranked Stanford This Weekend For Pac-10 Supremacy
April 17, 2001
LOS ANGELES -- The No. 8 USC baseball team (26-13, 8-4 Pac-10) -- winner of 12 NCAA championships, more than twice as many as any other school -- will travel to UC Riverside (14-23) on Tuesday (April 17) for a 6 p.m. game. The Trojans will then host the top-ranked Stanford Cardinal (31-7) in a Pac-10 showdown at Dedeaux Field, beginning on Friday (April 20) at 6 p.m. Game times are 1 p.m. for Saturday (April 21) and Sunday (April 22). USC will continue its stretch of nine games in 11 days with a Monday (April 23) game against San Francisco at 3 p.m. USC is two games behind Stanford in conference play. Saturday's game will also be broadcast live on FOX Sports Net with Barry Tompkins and Jerry Kindall calling the action. All games this week will be broadcast live on www.usctrojans.com.
RANKINGS -- USC is ranked No. 7 in the latest ESPN/USA Today Baseball Weekly poll, No. 8 by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. Stanford is ranked No. 1 in all three polls. UC Riverside is not ranked.
LAST WEEK -- The Trojans went 3-1 on the week, including a Pac-10 series win at California. The Trojans opened the week with a 6-4 non-conference win against UC Santa Barbara at Dedeaux Field. UCSB had a 4-2 lead going into the seventh inning, but three Gaucho errors led to four runs for the Trojans. Brian Bannister struck out four in 2 2/3 scoreless innings to pick up the win (3-4). USC traveled to Berkeley for a three-game set against California and started with another outstanding effort by Mark Prior. Prior pitched a complete game with a two-hitter, striking out 14 and walking one batter. Alberto Concepcion scored the only run in the 1-0 win in the third on a groundout by freshman Jon Brewster. In Friday's game, the Trojans rallied from a 3-1 deficit with four runs in the fifth. Cal's Jason Dennis had retired 11 straight Trojans until USC recorded its outburst. The Golden Bears, however, turned the tables in Saturday's finale. Down 4-1, Cal scored a single run in the final four innings to record a 5-4 victory in 10 innings. Bannister walked in the game-tying run with the bases loaded in the ninth and Brad Smith hit a single to right off Brewster's glove at second with the bases loaded for the game-winning hit.
UC RIVERSIDE NOTES -- UC Riverside is 14-23 on the season and have lost nine of its last 11 games. The team is batting .276 while the pitching staff has an 8.35 ERA. Catcher Jimmy Anderson is batting .346 with four home runs and 27 RBI. Tuesday's starting pitcher Brian Hoff is 0-2 on the season with a 6.75 ERA. In 30 2/3 innings, Hoff has allowed 52 hits, struck out 18 and walked 13 batters. Head Coach Jack Smitheran is in his 34th season at UC Riverside. The Highlanders upset the Trojans, 6-4, on March 6 at Dedeaux Field. USC leads the all-time series with UC Riverside by a 10-2 margin.
STANFORD NOTES -- Stanford is 31-7 on the season and has a six-game winning streak, including a Pac-10 series sweep last weekend at home against Oregon State. The team is batting .309 while the pitching staff has a conference-leading 2.99 ERA. Chris O'Riordan is batting .351 on the season with eight home runs and 46 RBI to lead the Cardinal. In fact, O'Riordan had both RBI in a 2-0 win against USC and Mark Prior (his only loss of the season) on March 9 at Sunken Diamond. Stanford features an outstanding starting rotation, including right-handers Jeremy Guthrie (8-1, 1.64 ERA, 77 IP, 55 H, 27 BB, 78 SO) and Jeff Bruksch (8-0, 2.25 ERA, 84 IP, 62 H, 16 BB, 74 SO). Head Coach Mark Marquess is in his 25th season at Stanford. Stanford swept a three-game non-conference series against USC on March 9-11 this season (2-0, 15-3 and 9-5). USC leads the all-time series with Stanford by a 193-142-2 margin. Stanford is 12-5 in the last 17 meetings against USC.
SAN FRANCISCO NOTES -- San Francisco is 21-16 on the season and has won seven straight games. The team is batting .290 on the season while the pitching staff has a 4.08 ERA. All-American Taggert Bozied is batting .356 with nine home runs and 27 RBI to lead the Dons. Head Coach Nino Giarratano is in his third season at San Francisco. Monday's game was a late addition to the Trojans' schedule after two of USC's earlier games this season against Mississippi State were rained out. USC leads the all-time series with San Francisco by an 11-1 margin. The Trojans last played the Dons on April 6, 1975, when USC registered a 23-0 win at USF.
COACH'S CORNER -- Mike Gillespie, in his 15th season as the Trojans' head coach, has a 589-326-2 (.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.
CLOSING IN ON 600 -- Mike Gillespie needs 11 victories to record his 600th win at USC. Gillespie registered his 500th win on March 30, 1999, in a 13-0 victory against San Diego State at Dedeaux Field.
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.
SWEEP OR BE SWEPT -- USC avenged getting swept last year at home by Houston by turning the tables on the host Cougars this year. The Trojans swept a doubleheader at Houston on March 3 (6-3, 7-3) and completed the series sweep on March 4 (4-3). A week later, however, the Trojans were swept by Stanford at Sunken Diamond. It was the first time since 1997 that Stanford swept a series against USC. In fact, Stanford swept both series at Sunken Diamond and Dedeaux Field in 1997. The Trojans added their second series sweep of the season at Arizona (March 23-25). USC is 19-2 in its last 21 games at Frank Sancet Field.
SCHEDULE CHANGES -- Two games have been added as a makeup for the two rained out Mississippi State games earlier this season. The Trojans will host San Francisco on Monday (April 23) at 3 p.m. and Long Beach State on Tuesday (May 15) at 5 p.m.
ALL WE NEED IS PATIENCE -- Being patient at the plate has been a key so far this season for the Trojans. USC has walked 152 times this season and struck out 192 times. The lowest number of strikeouts as a team in the past six years was 302 (1996).
STRIKE(OUT) A POSE -- USC pitchers have recorded 374 strikeouts in 354 2/3 innings this season. The school record by a Trojan pitching staff is 579, set by the 1998 club (589 innings). The Trojans' 374 strikeouts as a staff are the most in the Pac-10 Conference.
DON'T WALK ON BY -- Conversely, the USC pitching staff has walked only 144 batters. The lowest number of walks allowed in the last eight years for a season was 203 by the 1993 staff.
NATIONAL DEFENSE -- USC has quietly made an impact in terms of fielding. The Trojans' .975 fielding percentage (as of April 17) places them in a tie for third in the nation with South Carolina and Louisville. USC has made only two errors in its last eight games.
THREE OF A KIND -- This season, three Trojans have recorded streaks of hitting a home run in three straight games. Josh Persell is the latest member of the club with a home run in three games (3/25 at Arizona, 3/27 at Cal State Fullerton and 3/28 vs. San Diego State). Bill Peavey hit his home runs during the Washington series (3-17 through 3-19) while Anthony Lunetta hit home runs in the final two games of the series at Stanford on March 10 and 11 and on March 13 at UC Santa Barbara.
FEELING A DRAFT -- Four USC players were rated by Baseball America in the Top 100 College Prospects for the 2001 amateur baseball draft. Junior pitcher Mark Prior was rated No. 2, senior shortstop Seth Davidson was No. 89, junior rightfielder Rob Garibaldi was No. 91 and senior pitcher Rik Currier was No. 100. Prior, who was rated No. 2 overall, also received attention as having the best breaking ball of all college pitchers, being one of the closest to the majors and being one of the best two-way players. In a recent update, Prior has been moved to the No. 1 collegiate prospect in the nation. In the history of the USC baseball program, 244 players have been drafted by major league teams. In the last seven years, 45 Trojans have been drafted including 10 players who have made it to the major leagues: Aaron Boone, Geoff Jenkins, Gabe Alvarez, Brian Cooper, Jacque Jones, Chad Moeller, Seth Etherton, Morgan Ensberg, Eric Munson and Barry Zito.
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.
PRIOR NOTICE -- Junior pitcher Mark Prior (Bonita/USD HS/Vanderbilt) is getting a lot of attention this season 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. Prior is 10-1 this season with a 1.20 ERA. In 82 2/3 innings this year, he has allowed 47 hits (only six extra-base hits with four doubles and two home runs), struck out 123 and walked 11 with opponents batting .164 against him. He has also thrown only four wild pitches this season and has hit only one batter. Prior leads the Pac-10 Conference in victories, opponents' batting average and strikeouts. He is second in the conference and fourth in the nation in earned run average. He also leads the nation in strikeouts per nine innings (13.4) and is second in the nation for most victories. In his first start 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. Prior threw his third straight game with 10 or more strikeouts on Feb. 16 at UCLA with a 12-strikeout effort in seven innings (7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 12 SO). His streak was snapped on Feb. 23 vs. Mississippi State, but he still struck out nine in six innings. In the first game of a doubleheader at Houston on March 3, Prior struck out 10 and did not allow a walk in eight innings of work for his fourth victory of the season. Prior tied a career high by striking out 13 on March 9 at No. 10 Stanford (7 1/3 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 13 SO). The following week on March 17 at Washington, Prior pitched the 20th two-hitter at USC since 1976 with a complete game effort in the Trojans' 5-1 win. He struck out a career-high 14 batters and did not allow a walk for his fifth win of the season. He would set another career-high the following game on March 23 at Arizona when he struck out 15 batters and did not allow a walk in a three-hit shutout, his first of his career. Prior pitched five innings in a mid-week game on March 28 against San Diego State and gave up his first earned run in 21 1/3 consecutive innings. He pitched one inning in relief and recorded his eighth win of the season on April 3 at San Diego State (2-1 win in 10 innings) and added his ninth victory on April 6 vs. No. 10 Arizona State. Against ASU, Prior struck out seven in eight innings of work, allowing one run on seven hits. Prior threw his third complete game of the season on April 12 at California (1-0), throwing his second two-hitter of the season and striking out 14 batters with only one walk. He became only the second pitcher since 1976 to throw two solo two-hitters in a season (Barry Zito, now a member of the Oakland Athletics, in 1998). 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 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.
Prior Game-by-Game - 2001 SeasonDate Opponent IP H R ER BB SO W-L1/31 vs. Santa Clara 1.0 1 0 0 1 2 ND2/3 *vs. Louisville 5.0 3 0 0 0 10 W2/9 *at Long Beach St. 7.1 4 2 2 1 10 W2/16 *at UCLA 7.0 2 1 0 1 12 ND2/23 *vs. Mississippi St. 6.0 4 3 2 2 9 W3/3 *at Houston 8.0 9 3 3 0 10 W3/9 *at Stanford 7.1 8 2 2 1 13 L3/17 *at Washington 9.0 2 1 0 0 14 W3/23 *at Arizona 9.0 3 0 0 0 15 W3/28 *vs. San Diego State 5.0 2 2 1 1 6 W4/3 at San Diego State 1.0 0 0 0 1 1 W4/6 *vs. Arizona State 8.0 7 1 1 2 7 W4/12 *at California 9.0 2 0 0 1 14 WTOTALS 82.2 47 15 11 11 123 10-1
RUNNING THROUGH THE 'PAC' -- The numbers for Mark Prior in Pac-10 Conference games are impressive to say the least. In four games this season (at Washington, at Arizona, vs. No. 10 Arizona State and at California), Prior is 4-0 with a 0.26 ERA and three complete games. In 35 innings, he has allowed only 14 hits (one double, no triples, no home runs), two runs (one earned), three walks and has struck out 50 batters. Opponents are hitting .122 against Prior in conference play.
THE MAR'K' EXPRESS -- Mark Prior has been dominant early, especially in the strikeout department. He has 123 strikeouts in 82 2/3 innings this season with a 13.39 strikeouts per nine innings ratio. The school record is 12.62 strikeouts per nine innings, set by Rik Currier in 1998. The school and Pac-10 record for strikeouts in a season is 182, set by Seth Etherton in 1998. In his last eight games, Prior has struck out 77 batters and has allowed only six walks.
ROARING THROUGH MARCH -- The month of March was very good to Mark Prior. In five starts (four on the road at Houston, Stanford, Washington and Arizona with the lone start at home against San Diego State), Prior was 4-1 with a 1.64 ERA. In 38 1/3 innings, he gave up 24 hits, seven earned runs and struck out 58 batters while allowing only two walks.
KUDOS TO YOU -- Mark Prior was named Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week and Pac-10 Conference Pitcher of the Week in consecutive weeks for his performances on March 17 at Washington and March 23 at Arizona. Prior threw a complete game and allowed two hits in a 5-1 win at Washington. The one run against him was unearned as Prior struck out 14 and did not allow a walk. He did one step better the following week in Tucson, throwing his first career shutout (8-0). Prior struck out a career-high 15 batters and did not allow a walk. He pitched to two batters over the minimum and threw only 18 balls in 103 pitches. Prior also did not allow a runner to reach second base. Prior earned his third Pac-10 Conference Pitcher of the Week honor for his complete-game two-hitter on April 12 at California. He struck out 14 and walked only one in a 1-0 victory. At one point, Prior struck out five straight batters.
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 7-1 with a 2.31 ERA. In 70 innings, he has allowed 64 hits and has struck out 68 while allowing only 23 walks. Opponents are hitting .243 against him. He has allowed seven earned runs in his last 35 2/3 innings. At UCLA on Feb. 17, Currier threw eight shutout innings, striking out seven and allowing only two hits. He did not allow a runner to reach second base until the eighth inning. 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. He threw four no-hit innings at San Diego State on April 3, striking out six. On April 6 vs. No. 10 Arizona State, he recorded the win (5-1) by allowing one run on eight hits in 7 1/3 innings. He struck out seven Arizona State batters. 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 2000 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 second place on USC's all-time career list with 397 strikeouts. He has 68 this season and needs 23 to tie Seth Etherton (1995-98) for first. He surpassed Brent Strom (1968-70) for second place on the list with a six-strikeout performance on March 10 at Stanford.
Career Strikeouts1. Seth Etherton, 1995-98 420*2. Rik Currier, 1998-00 397 *Pac-10 record
A PITCHING 1-2 PUNCH FOR THE SEASON... -- Mark Prior and Rik Currier have put up strong numbers so far in the 2001 season. Prior and Currier are a combined 17-2 with a 1.71 ERA. In 152 2/3 innings, the duo has allowed 111 hits, struck out 191 batters and walked 34. Opponents are batting .202 against them.
...AND IN THE PAC-10 CONFERENCE -- Mark Prior and Rik Currier have been just as dominant in Pac-10 Conference play. In four appearances this season (at Washington, at Arizona and vs. Arizona State), the duo are a combined 7-0 with a 1.14 ERA. In 63 innings, the pair has allowed 50 hits, struck out 71 and walked 13 batters. Pac-10 hitters are batting .219 against them.
TO CATCH A THIEF -- Seth Davidson can now lay claim as the top career stolen base leader at USC. On March 24 at Arizona, Davidson tied Mark Smith (1989-91) for first place with his 57th career stolen base and on the following play, stole third to set the record with steal No. 58. Davidson currently has 62 career stolen bases with seven so far in 2001. This season, he also 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).
RECORD BREAKER -- After setting the school career mark for stolen bases, Seth Davidson is close to setting additional marks. He needs only four hits to break the career record of Murph Proctor (1988-91), who had 282 with the Trojans. Davidson can break another Proctor record by scoring seven runs to surpass his record of 187 career runs.
KUDOS TO YOU, PART II -- Seth Davidson was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for March 6 after going 7-for-14 (.500) with a triple and one RBI in three games at Houston. Davidson also registered two stolen bases, including stealing home in the second game of a doubleheader on March 3.
LUNAR ECLIPSE -- Sophomore second baseman Anthony Lunetta (Riverside/Arlington HS) is looking to build on last year's stellar freshman campaign. This year, Lunetta is batting a team-leading .320 (48-for-150) with four home runs, 21 RBI and eight stolen bases. He hit solo home runs in three straight games on March 10 and 11 at No. 10 Stanford and March 13 at UC Santa Barbara. 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 is batting .311 (41-for-138) with five home runs and 30 RBI. On Sunday (March 25) at Arizona, he hit his first career triple as part of a 6-for-12 (.500) weekend against the Wildcats. Peavey hit a home run in all three games of the Washington series. His first 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. He also tied the game in the seventh inning on Feb. 18 at UCLA on an RBI single, leading the way for a 5-4 victory in 11 innings.
PERSELL POWER -- Senior Josh Persell (Sherman Oaks/Montclair Prep) is batting .297 (41-for-138) with five home runs and 29 RBI. In the first game of a doubleheader at Houston on March 3, Persell hit a go-ahead, two-run blast to deep center in a 6-3 win against the Cougars. 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 has set a painful school record. Persell has been hit by a pitch 20 times this season. He set the new record on April 12 when he was hit twice, surpassing the record of 16 held by Brett Jenkins (1991). The first time he was hit set a school season record and the second time in the game he was hit, Persell set the school career record. He passed Brett Jenkins (1989-91), who was hit 36 times during his career. Persell has been hit 39 times by a pitch in his Trojans' career.
THE CRUSHER -- At only 5-8, junior Brian Barre (Garden Grove/Pacific HS) is having a strong season for the Trojans. He is batting .304 (41-for-135) with six home runs and a 32 RBI, a career high. Barre became the first player to hit a grand slam since Jason Lane hit one against Arizona State on April 24, 1999. He hit the grand slam in the sixth inning on Feb. 3 vs. Louisville in the Trojans' 19-4 victory.
MAN ON THE MOON -- Freshman Michael Moon (Alta Loma/Rancho Cucamonga HS) had the difficult task of replacing standout Justin Gemoll, who graduated last year, at third base. Moon, however, has shown that he is up to the task of playing at the hot corner. He is batting .290 (40-for-138) on the season with two home runs, 19 RBI and nine stolen bases. His first collegiate home run, a two-run shot, tied the game in the sixth in the Trojans' 6-4 win on March 24 at Arizona. He has recorded only two errors in 85 chances this season.
BREW CREW -- The Trojans have received strong contributions from another freshman with Jon Brewster (Sherman Oaks/Notre Dame HS). Brewster is batting .283 (30-for-106) with one home run, 17 RBI and eight stolen bases. Brewster hit his first home run as a Trojan on March 19 at Washington. His strength, though, is his ability to play different positions. As a utility player, Brewster has played this season in left field, right field, first base and third base. Brewster recorded three stolen bases in the second game of a doubleheader on March 3 at Houston.
WELL EXCUUUUUUUUUUSE ME -- Freshman Jon Brewster perhaps set an unofficial NCAA record when he was called out on batter's interference on consecutive at-bats on March 25 at Arizona. As the Trojans attempted hit-and-run plays with a runner on first, Brewster was called out both times for interfering with the catcher on his attempt to throw out the runner at second.
RAIN, RAIN GO AWAY -- Rain has played a major role early in the 2001 season for the Trojans. The 'streak' began on Saturday (Feb. 24) when the Trojans hosted Mississippi State. Both teams made the decision to play a doubleheader since heavy rains were forecast for Sunday (Feb. 25). Unfortunately, rain cancelled both games. San Diego was next on the schedule for Tuesday (Feb. 27), but rain cancelled that game and the immediate makeup date the following day (the game has been moved to Wednesday, March 14, at 5 p.m.). The opening game at Houston on Friday (March 2) was also cancelled due to rain which forced a doubleheader the next day, meaning the Trojans had been rained out in five straight possible game days.
AVOIDING HISTORY -- Anthony Lunetta's home run on March 10 at Stanford halted what would have been an ugly mark in the record books. After being shutout on March 9, the Trojans were in danger of being shut out in back-to-back games for just the third time in modern history. The two times it happened since 1921 was Feb. 19-20, 1982 (both games against Long Beach State) and during the 1968 season when the Trojans were shut out in three straight games. Ironically, the Trojans went on to win the 1968 national championship, starting a streak of six national titles in seven years.
MAINTAINING 'MO'MENTUM -- Sophomore Michael Morales (Anaheim/Loara HS) served as a team manager last year, similar to what teammate Abel Montanez did three years ago, but has made an early contribution to the 2001 squad. On Feb. 18 at UCLA, Morales hit a flare to right field in the top of the 11th for the game-winning hit in a 5-4 victory. Morales did not take batting practice, due to the rain-soaked field, and came into the game in the ninth as a pinch-runner for designated hitter Josh Persell. Morales hit a 2-2 pitch off UCLA closer Doug Silva. For the season, Morales is batting .455 (5-for-11) with four RBI.
CAREER MARKS -- Here are some updated numbers for USC players currently in the Top 20 lists:- Seth Davidson with 279 hits needs three to tie Murph Proctor for first place.- Davidson with 181 runs scored needs six to tie Murph Proctor for first place.- Davidson with 41 doubles needs one to tie Casey Burrill, Walter Dawkins and Geoff Jenkins for 10th place.- Rik Currier with 33 wins needs one to tie Jim Barr for seventh place.- Currier with 397 strikeouts needs 23 to tie Seth Etherton for first place.- Mark Prior with 273 strikeouts needs eight to tie Bruce Gardner for eighth place and 13 to tie Jim Barr for seventh 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.
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.