Baseball Travels To Blue Heaven This Weekend
Feb. 12, 2002
LOS ANGELES - The No. 6 USC baseball team - winner of 12 NCAA championships, more than twice as many as any other school - will travel to UC Riverside on Tuesday (Feb. 12) for a 5 p.m. game before hosting No. 25 Baylor (Feb. 15-17) at Dodger Stadium. USC will begin its series against Baylor on Friday (Feb. 15) at 6 p.m. and continue on Saturday (Feb. 16) at 1 p.m. and Sunday (Feb. 17) at noon. The Trojans play their first 22 games away from Dedeaux Field this season, due to construction that is scheduled for completion in late March.
RANKINGS - USC is ranked No. 6 in the latest Baseball America poll, No. 7 by Collegiate Baseball and USA Today Baseball Weekly/ESPN. Baylor is ranked No. 25 by Baseball America. UC Riverside is not ranked in any polls.
UC RIVERSIDE NOTES - UC Riverside is 4-3 on the season as the Highlanders took two of three last weekend against San Francisco (4-1, 6-16, 8-7). Head Coach Jack Smitheran is in his seventh season at UC Riverside and has a 127-64 record. UC Riverside is playing its first season in the Big West Conference. The Highlanders are led by junior catcher Jimmy Anderson who is batting .364 with six RBI. USC leads the all-time series by an 11-2 margin.
BAYLOR NOTES - Baylor is 0-3 on the season after suffering three heartbreaking one-run losses at the Astros College Classic, played at Enron Field in Houston. The Bears lost to Rice (10-9 in 10 innings), Houston (3-2) and TCU (6-5). Head Coach Steve Smith is in his eighth season at Baylor with a 262-157-1 record (the Bears are playing UT-San Antonio on Wednesday). Baylor is batting .297 as a team as the pitching staff has a 3.99 ERA. Senior Tim Hartshorn leads the team with a .667 batting average (10-for-15) with a home run and four RBI. USC has only played Baylor twice, winning both games during the 1948 season (8-0 and 16-3).
SCHEDULE CHANGE - The game originally scheduled at San Diego State on Tuesday (Feb. 19) has been moved to Monday (March 18). The game time will remain 5 p.m.
PAC-10 PRESEASON POLL - In a preseason poll of the Pac-10 coaches, USC was picked to finish second in the conference. Stanford (seven first-place votes) was picked to win the conference followed by USC (two first-place votes), Arizona State, California, Arizona, Washington, Oregon State, UCLA and Washington State.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE ROAD - With construction at Dedeaux Field, the Trojans will play their first 22 games on the road (the three-game series against Baylor, Feb. 15-17, will be played at Dodger Stadium). The $4 million project at Dedeaux Field, scheduled for completion in late March, will add a new clubhouse, players' lounge, expanded coaching offices and Hall of Fame and restrooms. Capacity at Dedeaux Field will be increased to 2,500 with additional seating on the first base side.
TROJANS ON THE NET - For the first time, all USC baseball games this season will be broadcast live on www.usctrojans.com. USC students Ethan Rector, Matt Seigel, Scott Swords and Randy Ferrell will handle the majority of the broadcasts while baseball sports information director Jason Pommier will handle selected road games. If the Trojans reach the post-season, all games will also be broadcast live KMPC 1540 AM, USC's flagship radio station.
COACH'S CORNER - Mike Gillespie, in his 16th season as the Trojans' head coach, has a 609-334-2 (.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 11 times), and trips to the 1995, 1998, 2000 and 2001 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.
USC: PITCHING PERFECTION - A member of the Trojans' pitching staff has won the honor of Pac-10 Conference Pitcher of the Year four consecutive years. Seth Etherton (now with the Cincinnati Reds) won the honor in 1998, Barry Zito (Oakland Athletics) in 1999, Rik Currier, who earned Co-Pitcher of the Year honors, in 2000 and Mark Prior in 2001.
PLAYING FOR THE U.S.A. - The Trojans have four players with national team experience. Junior pitcher Anthony Reyes was a member of the 2000 and 2001 USA National Team. Freshman pitchers Matt Chico and J.P. Howell pitched for the 2000 and 2001 USA Junior National Team while junior pitcher Chad Clark pitched on the 1998 USA Junior National Team.
REYES OF SUNSHINE - With the loss of pitchers Mark Prior and Rik Currier, the Trojans will look to junior pitcher Anthony Reyes (Whittier/California HS) to assume the No. 1 spot on the weekend rotation. Reyes, however, will not pitch this weekend due to a sore right elbow and will be out at least three weeks. He earned 2002 Preseason All-America first team honors by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. As the No. 3 starter on the team, Reyes posted a 5-4 record last year with a 3.72 ERA (109 IP, 111 H, 25 BB, 97 SO) and a 6-6 record with a 4.02 ERA in his 2000 freshman season (96 1/3 IP, 98 H, 45 BB, 86 SO).
THE CRUSHER - Listed at 5-9, senior Brian Barre (Garden Grove/Pacifica HS) packs a big punch for the Trojans as the starting centerfielder. He went 5-for-13 (.385) with two RBI last weekend against Long Beach State. Last year, Barre led the team in batting average (.345), home runs (13), stolen bases (20), slugging percentage (.560) and on-base percentage (.445). He also tied for the team lead with teammate Bill Peavey in RBI (48). For his efforts, he earned All-Pac-10 honors.
CATCH A RISING STAR - Junior catcher Alberto Concepcion (El Segundo/El Segundo HS) will be looked upon to provide some power in the middle of the lineup this season. Concepcion earned 2002 Baseball America Preseason All-America second team and Collegiate Baseball Preseason All-America third team honors. He went 5-for-11 (.455) with one RBI last weekend at Long Beach State and threw out three runners on six stolen base attempts against him. He batted .321 last year with seven home runs and 41 RBI. Defensively, he threw out 26 of 100 runners (26.0 %). He batted .299 in his 2000 freshman season with eight home runs and 22 RBI.
MAN ON THE MOON - Sophomore Michael Moon (Alta Loma/Rancho Cucamonga HS) provided a solid freshman season last year, batting .313 with six home runs and 35 RBI. He went 5-for-13 (.385) with three RBI last weekend at Long Beach State, including a 4-for-4 afternoon on Sunday. Last year, Moon went 7-for-13 (.538) with a triple, home run and five RBI at the NCAA Regional to earn Most Outstanding Player honors. He also stole home during the regional on May 25, 2001, vs. Oral Roberts. He delivered one of the most electrifying moments in the history of Dedeaux Field on May 26 during the NCAA Regional. Down 3-2 against Pepperdine with a runner at first, Moon hit a 1-2 pitch from Noah Lowry over the right field wall for the game-winning walk-off homer to cap a three-run rally in the bottom of the ninth.
LUNAR ECLIPSE - Junior second baseman Anthony Lunetta (Riverside/Arlington HS) is looking to continue his strong career at USC and rebound from right elbow surgery in the offseason. Lunetta, who earned 2002 Baseball America Preseason All-America second team honors, was named as the Pac-10 Freshman/Newcomer of the Year in his 2000 freshman campaign after batting .343 with 12 home runs and 50 RBI. Last year, he led the Trojans with a .545 batting average (6-for-11) at the College World Series.
BIG DADDY - Senior first baseman Bill Peavey (Brisbane/Serra HS) is coming off a career season where he batted .305 with seven home runs and 48 RBI, which tied teammate Brian Barre for the team lead. Peavey hit two home runs on June 9, 2001, against Georgia at the College World Series in Omaha, including one hit over the 30-foot-fence in center field.
NEWCOMERS TO WATCH - This season, a combination of freshmen and transfers will add some fresh faces to the Trojans' lineup. Senior transfer Kris Cox (Breckenridge, Colo.) will get some playing time in left field after three seasons at Mississippi. Junior transfers Travis McAndrews (El Segundo/L.A. Harbor JC) and David Gordon (Sacramento/Sacramento CC) will battle for the starting spot in right field. Freshman Joey Metropoulos (Jamul/Monte Vista HS) will be in the starting lineup either as a third baseman or designated hitter. Junior utility Nick Mosich (Santa Ana/Saddleback College/Notre Dame) has earned a spot in the lineup as the starting third baseman after a torrid offensive performance in the fall. Freshmen left-handed pitchers Matt Chico (Fallbrook/Fallbrook HS) and J.P. Howell (Sacramento/Jesuit HS), who were both second-round draft selections last year, will make an immediate impact this weekend in the starting rotation.
CHICO STATE - Matt Chico became the first freshman in head coach Mike Gillespie's 16-year career at USC to start a season opener. Despite picking up the loss on Feb. 8 at Long Beach State, Chico showed promise in the 2-0 defeat by pitching out of several jams. He went 4 1/3 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts. Chico showed his versatility by being the designated hitter the following day and playing in left field in the series finale on Feb. 10. He was selected in the second round (61st overall) by the Boston Red Sox in the 2001 draft.
JEWEL OF A PITCHER - Freshman J.P. Howell showed during his collegiate debut on Feb. 10 at Long Beach State why he was a second-round selection (52nd overall) by the Atlanta Braves in the 2001 draft. Howell went five innings to earn his first win in an 8-5 victory against the 49ers, allowing only one run on three hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
OUT OF NOWHERE - The most unheralded player on the Trojans' roster this season is junior Nick Mosich. Mosich earned the job as the starting third baseman after being the No. 3 catcher on the depth chart last year. He went 4-for-9 (.444) with two doubles during the Long Beach State series last weekend.
INJURY REPORT:* Fraser Dizard (LHP) - day-to-day, soreness in left elbow* David Gordon (OF) - out 2-4 weeks, broken right thumb* Anthony Reyes (RHP) - out three weeks, soreness in right elbow* Brian Bannister (RHP) - out until late April or early May, surgery on right elbow
OPERATION: OMAHA - From 1948 to 1978, USC dominated the world of college baseball with 11 national championships in 17 appearances at the College World Series (the 1948 CWS was held in Kalamazoo, Mich., with the CWS moving to Omaha, Neb., in 1949). After the 1978 season, the Trojans went through a drought and did not return to Omaha until 1995, when Troy reached the national championship game. Since 1995, the Trojans have made four trips to Omaha in the last seven years (1995-1998-2000-2001), winning their 12th CWS title in 1998. USC has the most wins (74) at the CWS and is second for most appearances (21) behind Texas (27).
2001 SEASON RECAP - The Pac-10 Conference championship, a return visit to the College World Series and perhaps one of the greatest individual seasons in collegiate baseball history highlighted the 2001 season for the Trojans. USC finished with a 45-19 overall record and an 18-6 mark in Pac-10 play, winning the conference title on the final day of the regular season at Oregon State. The Trojans went 5-0 with sweeps at home in the NCAA First Round Regional and NCAA Super Regional to earn their 21st CWS appearance in Omaha. After an opening 11-5 win against Georgia, the Trojans' season ended with losses against eventual national champion Miami (4-3) and Tennessee (10-2). Pitcher Mark Prior turned in one of the best seasons ever, becoming the first Trojan to win the Golden Spikes Award, given by USA Baseball to the top amateur baseball player in the nation. Prior became only the second player in history to sweep every major national player of the year award. He earned first team All-America honors and was drafted No. 2 overall by the Chicago Cubs while senior pitcher Rik Currier earned third team All-America honors. Prior was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year while Currier and outfielder Brian Barre earned All-Pac-10 honors.
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), 37 conference titles and 21 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 80 times, and 85 players have gone on to play in the majors, including such stars as Randy Johnson, Mark McGwire, Bret Boone, Jeff Cirillo, Barry Zito, Geoff Jenkins, Jacque Jones, Tom Seaver, Fred Lynn and Ron Fairly.