Baseball Readies For NCAA First-Round Regional Action
May 22, 2001
LOS ANGELES -- The No. 2 USC baseball team (39-17, 18-6 Pac-10) -- winner of 12 NCAA championships, more than twice as many as any other school -- will host the 2001 NCAA First-Round Regional (May 25-27) at Dedeaux Field. The double-elimination regional field includes No. 2 seed Pepperdine (41-16), No. 3 seed Fresno State (39-23) and No. 4 seed Oral Roberts (48-11). This is the second time in three years that the Trojans have hosted a first-round regional (1999). USC earned a No. 3 national seed in the NCAA Tournament after winning the Pac-10 Conference championship. All USC games of the regional will be broadcast live on www.usctrojans.com.
RANKINGS -- USC is ranked No. 2 in the latest Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball and ESPN/USA Today Baseball Weekly polls. Pepperdine is No. 11 by Baseball America, No. 13 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 18 by ESPN/USA Today Baseball Weekly. Oral Roberts is No. 25 by Collegiate Baseball. Fresno State is not ranked in any polls.
ALL-TOURNAMENT PASSES NOW ON SALE -- All-tournament passes are on sale now and can be purchased by calling the USC ticket office at (213) 740-GOSC (4672). Passes are $50 for all six (or seven) games for adults and $30 for children under 12. Single-session tickets will ONLY be available for purchase on the day of the game.
TROJANS IN THE POSTSEASON -- USC has a 195-70 overall postseason record. The Trojans have played in 28 league, district or regional tournaments at Dedeaux Field and have registered a 60-13 record in those games. The last regional held at Dedeaux Field was in 1999 when the Trojans defeated the Pepperdine Waves by a 12-7 margin in the regional final to advance to the Super Regional at Stanford (Stanford swept USC in two games).
TITLE RUN -- This season, USC won its first Pac-10 Conference title since 1996 with an 18-6 conference record, one game ahead of Stanford. USC has won 36 conference championships overall and four under Head Coach Mike Gillespie (1991, 1995, 1996, 2001).
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.
WEEKEND RECAP -- The Trojans took two of three games at Oregon State: SUNDAY -- Anthony Reyes and Brian Bannister combined for a 1-0 shutout to complete the Trojans' seventh consecutive Pac-10 series win. Reyes struck out five and scattered six hits in seven innings of work while Bannister did not allow a hit. Pinch-hitter Sean Pietsch hit a fly ball down the left field line for Oregon State with a runner on in the bottom of the ninth off Bannister, but the wind knocked the ball down and left fielder Michael Morales made the catch on the warning track. The Trojans scored their lone run in the seventh. Anthony Lunetta doubled down the left field line, advanced to third on a sacrifice by Michael Moon and scored on a sacrifice fly ball by Bill Peavey. SATURDAY -- Scott Nicholson threw a complete game, seven-hitter as Oregon State shut out the Trojans by a 6-0 score. A throwing error by Jon Brewster led to three runs in the first for the Beavers. They added two more in the fifth, including Chris Biles' second home run in as many games, and one more in the seventh to complete the scoring. Rik Currier suffered his first loss since March 10 in giving up all six runs (only two were earned). USC made three errors in the game. FRIDAY -- The Trojans pushed four runs across in the top of the 10th to get the 7-3 win against the Beavers. Bill Peavey registered a game-winning hit with a groundout to first and Alberto Concepcion added a two-run single. Brian Bannister threw three perfect innings to register the win. Brian Barre went 3-for-4 for the Trojans as Mark Prior allowed three runs on seven hits in seven innings of work.
ORAL ROBERTS NOTES -- Oral Roberts is 48-11 this season and won the Mid-Continent Conference with a 24-1 record. The Golden Eagles have a 13-game winning streak heading into postseason play. The team is batting .324 while the pitching staff has a 3.49 ERA. Michael Rogers leads the team with a 14-0 record and a 2.05 ERA. In 118 1/3 innings, Rogers has allowed 92 hits, struck out 135 and walked 43 with opponents batting .218 against him. Right-hander Rene Recio is the team's closer and is 8-1 on the season with a 2.76 ERA and 10 saves. Trevor Leu is pulling double duty for ORU, leading the team with a .423 batting average with six home runs and 38 RBI. On the mound, Leu is 8-4 with a 4.73 ERA with three complete games. In 85 2/3 innings, he has allowed 81 hits with 102 strikeouts and 41 walks. The Golden Eagles have stolen 150 bases this season and have seven players with 13 or more stolen bases, including second baseman Danny Boyle with 35. Coach Sunny Golloway is in his sixth season at Oral Roberts. USC leads the all-time series with ORU by a 3-1 margin. Both teams last faced each other on March 18, 1996, as the Trojans defeated the Golden Eagles, 7-6, at Dedeaux Field.
PEPPERDINE NOTES -- Pepperdine is 41-16 this season, finishing 25-5 in West Coast Conference play. The Waves defeated Gonzaga, two games to one last weekend, to win the conference championship. Pepperdine is 9-1 in its last 10 games. The team is batting .318 while the pitching staff has a 3.56 ERA. Pepperdine has a fierce 1-2 punch on the mound with Noah Lowry and Daniel Haren. Lowry is 14-1 this season with a 1.51 ERA. In 113 1/3 innings, he has allowed 82 hits, struck out 137 and walked 39 with a .199 opponents' batting average. Haren is 10-3 with a 2.39 ERA with five complete games. In 120 2/3 innings, he allowed 101 hits, struck out 92 and walked 30 with a .224 opponents' batting average. As a designated hitter, Haren is also batting .313 with five home runs and 46 RBI. First baseman Jared Pitney leads the team in batting average (.392), home runs (12) and RBI (61). The team has hit 54 home runs this season and has stolen 78 bases. Head Coach Frank Sanchez is in his fifth season at Pepperdine and served as an assistant coach to USC Head Coach Mike Gillespie from 1987-1996. USC leads the all-time series with Pepperdine by a 75-28-1 margin. The teams split the season series with Pepperdine winning at home, 5-3, on Feb. 21 and USC winning at Dedeaux Field, 9-3, on March 21. USC eliminated Pepperdine in the 1999 NCAA First-Round Regional at Dedeaux Field. The Trojans defeated the Waves, 5-3, on the second day. Pepperdine came back on Sunday through the loser's bracket and beat the Trojans, 4-3, before USC won 12-7 to advance to the NCAA Super Regional.
FRESNO STATE NOTES -- Fresno State is 39-23 on the season and finished second in the Western Athletic Conference with a 22-14 record. The Bulldogs are 11-4 in their last 15 games. The team is batting .305 while the pitching staff has a 3.71 ERA. Shortstop Josh Labandeira leads the team in batting average (.366), home runs (14) and RBI (67). First baseman Brandon Gemoll, the younger brother of former Trojan Justin Gemoll, is batting .317 with 13 home runs and 58 RBI. Bob Runyon is 8-1 on the season for the Bulldogs with a 3.74 ERA. In 118 innings, Runyon has allowed 129 hits, struck out 86 and walked 19. Head Coach Bob Bennett is in his 33rd season at Fresno State. USC leads the all-time series with Fresno State by a 39-23 margin. The Trojans last faced the Bulldogs on May 26, 1995 at the West I Regional in Fresno. USC won 22-17 and later advanced to the College World Series.
COACH'S CORNER -- Mike Gillespie, in his 15th season as the Trojans' head coach, has a 602-329-2 (.646) career record and has led USC to the 1998 national championship, four conference titles (1991, 1995, 1996, 2001), 13 trips to the NCAA Regionals in 15 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.
600 REASONS TO BE HAPPY -- Mike Gillespie recorded his 600th win at USC on May 15 with a 10-2 win against Long Beach State.
YOUNG (ALL) AMERICANS -- The Trojans have four 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. Prior with a strong season in 2001 is a leading candidate for National Player of the Year. Junior outfielder Brian Barre is having an outstanding season at the plate and in the field which should garner him some consideration for All-America status.
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. The Trojans registered their third season sweep against UCLA at Dedeaux Field (April 27-29). It was the first time that USC swept UCLA in a three-game series since 1996. The Trojans are 9-3 against the Bruins in the last two seasons as USC recorded a 5-1 record against UCLA this season. The fourth series sweep for the Trojans came against Washington State at Dedeaux Field (May 12-14). The Trojans got complete game efforts from Rik Currier and Anthony Reyes against the Cougars.
BEATING THE CHAMPS -- The schedule makers favored the Trojans when last year's Pac-10 tri-champions Arizona State, Stanford and UCLA traveled to Dedeaux Field this season for conference play. USC took advantage as the Trojans recorded a 7-2 record against the three schools.
ALL WE NEED IS PATIENCE -- Being patient at the plate has been a key so far this season for the Trojans. USC has walked 207 times this season and struck out 260 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 530 strikeouts in 506 2/3 innings this season. The school record by a Trojan pitching staff is 579, set by the 1998 club (589 innings). The Trojans' 530 strikeouts as a staff are the most in the Pac-10 Conference this season.
DON'T WALK ON BY -- Conversely, the USC pitching staff has walked only 192 batters. The lowest number of walks allowed in the last eight years for a season was 203 by the 1993 staff.
BACK IN BLACK -- Head Coach Mike Gillespie moved into the fashion industry this season when the team wore black caps for the first time in the history of the USC baseball program. The 'Black Sabbath' uniforms made their first appearance on Sunday (April 22) in a 9-5 loss against Stanford before the Trojans were able to record their first win with a 7-1 victory against UCLA on Sunday (April 29). The caps, which feature the SC logo in cardinal with a gold outline, coincide with the black sleeveless tops that the Trojans have worn for several years. The black uniforms were purchased by former Trojans Geoff Jenkins (Milwaukee Brewers) and Gabe Alvarez. Ironically, the Trojans recorded their win against UCLA on the same day that Jenkins tied a major league record with five home runs in two games. USC is 3-1 this season when wearing the black caps.
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 -- Three 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 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.
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN -- The Trojans have utilized a seven-man pitching staff which includes arguably one of the top starting rotations in the nation: starters Mark Prior, Rik Currier and Anthony Reyes with Brian Bannister, Chad Clark, Fraser Dizard and Jordan Olson coming out of the bullpen. In the last 11 games where the Trojans have recorded a 10-1 record, the seven pitchers have a combined 2.00 ERA. In those last 99 innings, the staff has allowed 87 hits (14 doubles, two triples, three home runs), struck out 112 and allowed only 21 walks.
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. This season, he has produced numbers worthy of National Player of the Year consideration and has already earned Pac-10 Conference Pitcher of the Year honors. 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 13-1 this season with a 1.49 ERA. In 114 2/3 innings this year, he has allowed 73 hits (only 13 extra-base hits with nine doubles and four home runs), struck out 166 and walked 17 with opponents batting .182 against him. He has also thrown only five wild pitches this season and has hit only four batters. Prior led the Pac-10 Conference in victories, earned-run average, opponents' batting average and strikeouts. He is second in the nation in earned run average. He is third in the nation in strikeouts per nine innings (13.5) and is tied for second in the nation for most victories. This season, he has recorded 10 or more strikeouts in a game 11 times. He has recorded victories in his eight of his last nine appearences (eight starts, one relief appearence) and has allowed 10 earned runs in his last 73 innings (42 H, 11 BB, 100 SO) for a 1.23 ERA. Dating back to March 3, Prior has struck out 123 batters and walked only 12 batters in 88 1/3 innings. 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). Prior avenged his only loss of the season with a win against No. 1 Stanford on April 20 at Dedeaux Field. He allowed one run on five hits in a 2-1 victory against Jeremy Guthrie, striking out 12 and allowing one walk. He would throw his third straight complete game on April 27 vs. UCLA (2-0). Prior allowed six hits, striking out 14 and did not allow a walk. He would not pitch again until May 12 against Washington State. Despite giving up a season-high six runs (four earned) in a 7-6 win, he still struck out 12 batters and allowed only two walks. 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 W4/20 *vs. Stanford 9.0 5 1 1 1 12 W4/27 *vs. UCLA 9.0 6 0 0 0 14 W5/12 *vs. Washington St. 7.0 8 6 4 2 12 W5/18 *at Oregon State 7.0 7 3 3 3 5 NDTOTALS 114.2 73 25 19 17 166 13-1
USC - THE SCHOOL FOR PITCHERS -- With Mark Prior being named as 2001 Pac-10 Conference Pitcher of the Year, a member of the Trojans' pitching staff has won the honor four consecutive years. Seth Etherton (now with the Cincinnati Reds) won the honor in 1998, Barry Zito (now with the Oakland Athletics) won in 1999 and Rik Currier earned Co-Pitcher of the Year honors in 2000.
RUNNING THROUGH THE 'PAC' -- The numbers for Mark Prior in Pac-10 Conference games are impressive to say the least. In eight games this season, Prior was 7-0 with a 1.21 ERA and five complete games. In 67 innings, he allowed only 40 hits (six doubles, no triples, two home runs), 12 runs (nine earned), nine walks and has struck out 93 batters. Opponents hit .173 against Prior in conference play.
THE MAR'K' EXPRESS -- Mark Prior has been dominant early, especially in the strikeout department. He has 166 strikeouts in 114 2/3 innings this season with a 13.03 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.
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.
AWESOME IN APRIL -- The month of April was even better for Mark Prior. In four starts (vs. No. 10 Arizona State, at California, vs. No. 1 Stanford and vs. UCLA) and one relief appearance on 4/3 at San Diego State, Prior was 5-0 with a 0.50 ERA. In 36 innings, he gave up 20 hits, two earned runs and struck out 48 batters while allowing only five walks.
KUDOS TO YOU -- Mark Prior has received many accolades during the 2001 season. He has been named Pac-10 Conference Pitcher of the Week five times this season. He earned back-to-back awards for his performances on March 17 at Washington and March 23 at Arizona and also earned Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week honors for both games. He also was named as National Pitcher of the Week by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers' Association (March 17 at Washington and April 20 vs. No. 1 Stanford) and is the only two-time winner of that award this season. 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 three straight conference honors again for his starts on April 12 at California, April 20 vs. No. 1 Stanford and April 27 vs. UCLA. He threw a complete-game two-hitter on April 12 at California, striking out 14 and walking one batter in a 1-0 victory. At one point, Prior struck out five straight batters. He threw his fourth complete game in conference play in a 2-1 win against Stanford. He allowed one run on five hits, striking out 12 and walking one as he avenged his only loss of the season (March 9) against the Cardinal. His fifth complete game in the Pac-10 came in a 2-0 win against the Bruins. Prior allowed six hits, struck out 14 and did not allow a walk.
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 and recently earned All-Pac-10 honors. In 2001, Currier is 10-1 with a 2.36 ERA and is 25-5 in his last two seasons. In 99 innings this year, he has allowed 95 hits and has struck out 100 while allowing only 31 walks. Opponents are hitting .250 against him. 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. Currier combined with freshman Fraser Dizard again on April 21 with a 7-0 shutout against No. 1 Stanford. Against the Cardinal, Currier allowed only five hits in eight shutout innings. On May 13 vs. Washington State, he threw his first solo shutout of the season in a five-hit performance. He struck out a season-high 12 batters and walked only one in a 7-0 win against the Cougars. 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.
IT'S GOOD TO BE THE 'K'ING -- Rik Currier became the school and Pac-10 Conference all-time leader for strikeouts on May 13 vs. Washington State, surpassing Seth Etherton (1995-98). In the seventh inning, he struck out Justin Williams for his 421st strikeout to set the record. He has 100 this season and 429 for his career. Currier struck out Stanford's Jason VanMeetren on April 21 to register his 400th career strikeout. He surpassed Brent Strom (1968-70) for second place on the list with a six-strikeout performance on March 10 at Stanford.
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 23-3 with a 1.90 ERA. In 213 2/3 innings, the duo has allowed 168 hits, struck out 266 batters and walked 48. Opponents are batting .215 against them.
...AND IN THE PAC-10 CONFERENCE -- Mark Prior and Rik Currier have been just as dominant in Pac-10 Conference play. In eight appearances this season, the duo were a combined 13-1 with a 1.74 ERA. In 124 innings, the pair has allowed 107 hits, struck out 146 and walked 27 batters. Pac-10 hitters are batting .232 against them.
KUDOS TO YOU, PART II -- Rik Currier earned his first Pac-10 Conference Pitcher of the Week honor for his shutout performance on May 13 against Washington State. It was his first solo shutout of the season (he has also thrown two combined shutouts). He allowed only five hits, struck out a season-high 12 batters and allowed only one walk in a 7-0 win against the Cougars.
CURRIER + DIZARD = SHUTOUT -- The combination of Rik Currier and freshman Fraser Dizard has produced two shutouts this season against Pac-10 teams. Currier threw eight shutout innings on Feb. 17 at UCLA (6-0) and April 21 vs. No. 1 Stanford (7-0) while Dizard mopped up in relief in the ninth in both games.
RECORD BREAKER -- This season, senior shortstop Seth Davidson has set three school career records and shares a fourth record. After setting the school career mark for stolen bases on March 24, Seth Davidson set the second mark on April 20 by recording his 283rd career hit. He broke the record held by Murph Proctor (1988-91), who had 282 with the Trojans. On April 27 vs. UCLA, Davidson hit a solo home run for his 188th run scored to break another Proctor record (187). He now has 65 stolen bases, 299 hits and 191 runs scored in his career. If Davidson hits another triple, he will own outright the school mark, which he shares at 13 with Mark Smith (1989-91). Davidson is batting .312 (69-for-221) this season with one home run, 25 RBI and 13 stolen bases. He was named All-Pac-10 this season, the third time in his career he received that honor.
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 65 career stolen bases with 13 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).
KUDOS TO YOU, PART III -- 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.
THE CRUSHER -- At only 5-8, junior Brian Barre (Garden Grove/Pacifica HS) is having a strong season for the Trojans and is leading the team in most offensive categories, in most cases as the team's leadoff hitter. Barre earned All-Pac-10 honors this season for the first time in his career. He is batting a team-leading .337 (67-for-199) and leads the team in home runs (12), RBI (46), slugging percentage (.558), on base percentage (.438) and stolen bases (18). He had his season-high 16-game hitting streak snapped on May 20 at Oregon State. Barre hit a home run in back-to-back games against Washington State on May 12 and 13 and against UCLA on April 28 and 29. He also went 3-for-3 with a double and two RBI on April 17 at UC Riverside and went 2-for-4 with a triple, home run and four RBI. He also 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.
A RAY OF SUNSHINE -- Sophomore Anthony Reyes (Whittier/California HS) has served as the Trojans' No. 3 starter for the season. Behind the tandem of Mark Prior and Rik Currier, he has almost gone unnoticed. Reyes, though, has made some noise in his last couple of starts. He is 3-1 in his last five starts with a 1.88 ERA. For the season, Reyes is 4-3 with a 3.75 ERA. In 93 2/3 innings, he has allowed 101 hits, struck out 82 and walked 22 with opponents hitting .283 against him. He has also allowed only two runs (one earned) in his last 24 innings. Reyes allowed only six hits in seven scoreless innings on May 20 at Oregon State. He threw his first complete game and struck out a career-high 12 batters on May 14 in a 5-1 win against Washington State at Dedeaux Field. Reyes was a member of the 2000 USA National Team, along with Prior and Head Coach Mike Gillespie.
CARRYING THE BANNER -- Sophomore Brian Bannister (Paradise Valley, Ariz./Chaparral HS) has had an up and down season, but has been virtually untouchable as of late for the Trojans. Out of the bullpen, the 6-0 right-hander has not allowed a run in his last 10 1/3 innings. He has allowed four hits, no walks and struck out 13 since April 28 vs. UCLA. After allowing three runs on March 27 at Cal State Fullerton, Bannister had put up strong numbers in the months of April and May. He is 2-0 with a 1.40 ERA and two saves during that time. In 19 1/3 innings, he has allowed 12 hits with eight walks and 22 strikeouts since March 27. He is 4-4 on the season with a 3.15 ERA. On May 18 at Oregon State, he registered three perfect innings for the win in the Trojans' 7-3 victory in 10 innings agains the Beavers. He struck out a season-high five batters and allowed only one hit in 3 2/3 innings on Feb. 6 vs. Cal State Fullerton.
CATCH A RISING STAR -- Sophomore catcher Alberto Concepcion (El Segundo/El Segundo HS) has been hot at the plate lately for the Trojans. Concepcion is batting .314 on the season (61-for-194) with three home runs and 31 RBI. On April 24, his 10-game hitting streak (16-for-33) was snapped. He had a big weekend against No. 1 Stanford at Dedeaux Field. On Friday (April 20), Concepcion hit the game-winning home run off starter Jeremy Guthrie. His home run in the bottom of the eighth on Guthrie's first pitch to lead off the inning broke a 1-1 tie in the Trojans' 2-1 win. The following day on Saturday (April 21), he broke the game open with a three-run homer to right in a 7-0 win. He hit two doubles on April 22 against Stanford and recorded a double and triple against San Francisco on April 23.
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 .300 (57-for-190) with five home runs and 43 RBI. He went 6-for-10 (.600) with four runs scored during the Washington State series (May 12-14). 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.
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 .301 (63-for-209) with four home runs, 29 RBI and 12 stolen bases. He doubled and scored in a 1-0 win on May 20 at Oregon State which helped clinch the Pac-10 Conference title for the Trojans. 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.
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 .303 (59-for-195) on the season with four home runs, 28 RBI and 10 stolen bases. His two-run homer put the Trojans ahead on May 15 in 10-2 win against Long Beach State. 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.
PERSELL POWER -- Senior Josh Persell (Sherman Oaks/Montclair Prep) is batting .291 (58-for-199) with six home runs and 36 RBI. On April 30 at San Diego, Persell hit his sixth home run of the season on a shot that knocked out several light bulbs in the Cunningham Stadium scoreboard. 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 23 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 42 times by a pitch in his Trojans' career.
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 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 .423 (11-for-26) with five RBI.
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.
CAREER MARKS -- Here are some updated numbers for USC players currently in the Top 20 lists:- Davidson with 13 triples needs one to pass Mark Smith for sole possession of first place.- Davidson with 45 doubles needs three to tie Jacque Jones and Morgan Ensberg for seventh place and four to tie Greg Walbridge for sixth place.- Rik Currier with 36 wins needs one to tie Seth Etherton for fourth place.- Mark Prior with 316 strikeouts needs 47 to tie Brent Strom for third place.Career records set this season:- Seth Davidson sets stolen base mark with 58th stolen bases, surpassing Mark Smith (57) on March 24 at Arizona. He now has 65 stolen bases.- Josh Persell sets hit by pitch mark by being hit for the 37th time, surpassing Brett Jenkins (36) on April 12 at California. He now has been hit by a pitch 42 times.- Seth Davidson sets hits mark with 283rd hit, surpassing Murph Proctor (282) on April 20 vs. Stanford. He now has 299 hits.- Seth Davidson sets runs scored mark with 188th run scored, surpassing Murph Proctor (187) on April 27 vs. UCLA. He now has 192 runs.- Rik Currier sets strikeout (and Pac-10 Conference) mark with 421nd strikeout, surpassing Seth Etherton (420) on May 13 vs. Washington State. He now has 429 strikeouts.
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.
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