Trojans Open 2004 Campaign Against Long Beach State
Feb. 10, 2004
LOS ANGELES - The USC baseball team - winner of 12 NCAA championships, more than twice as many as any other school - opens the 2004 regular season against No. 9 Long Beach State (2-1) on Friday (Feb. 13) at 6:30 p.m at Blair Field. The game on Saturday (Feb. 14) is a 1 p.m. start at Dedeaux Field -- preceded by legendary coach Rod Dedeaux's 90th birthday celebration -- with the rubber game on Sunday (Feb. 15) at 1 p.m. at Blair Field. All games will be broadcast live on usctrojans.com while Live Stats will be available for Saturday's game.
RANKINGS - USC is ranked No. 16 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 21 by USA Today Sports Weekly/ESPN. Long Beach State is ranked No. 9 by Baseball America and USA Today Sports Weekly/ESPN and No. 12 by Collegiate Baseball.
LONG BEACH STATE NOTES - Long Beach State is 2-1 on the season after taking two of three last weekend at California. Head coach Mike Weathers is 82-42 in his third season at Long Beach State. Right hander Jared Weaver, projected to be one of the top collegiate pitchers in the nation, threw seven shutout innings last week and allowed only three hits with no walks and six strikeouts. USC leads the all-time series by a 68-30 margin.
PAC-10 PRESEASON POLL - In a preseason poll of the Pac-10 coaches, USC was picked to finish fourth in the conference. Stanford (seven first-place votes) was picked to win the conference followed by Arizona State (one first-place vote), Arizona (one first-place vote), USC, Washington, California, UCLA, Oregon State and Washington State.
TROJANS ON THE NET - All USC baseball games this season will be broadcast live on www.usctrojans.com. USC students Pete Dalis, Dylan Milner, Kevin Shaw and Dave Bataller will handle the majority of the broadcasts while baseball sports information director Jason Pommier will handle selected road games.
90 CANDLES - The USC baseball program will celebrate former head coach Rod Dedeaux's 90th birthday in grand fashion before Saturday's home opener against Long Beach State. Three members of the major league baseball Hall of Fame (Tom Seaver, Sparky Anderson and Tommy Lasorda) will be present for a pregame ceremony. Seaver was a pitcher at USC in 1967 while Anderson was a batboy for Dedeaux during the 1948 season.
COACH'S CORNER - Mike Gillespie, in his 18th season as the Trojans' head coach, has a 673-384-2 (.636) career record and has led USC to the 1998 national championship, five conference titles (1991, 1995, 1996, 2001, 2002), 14 trips to the NCAA Regionals in 17 years (reaching the regional finals 12 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 four times (1991-95-96-2002) 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 (until it was surpassed by the 2003 squad). During his tenure at USC, Gillespie has coached 21 players who have played in the major leagues, including Aaron Boone, Bret Boone, Geoff Jenkins, Jacque Jones, Mark Prior and Barry Zito.
ALL-AMERICAN CATCHER - Catcher Jeff Clement (Marshalltown, Iowa/Marshalltown HS) earned national attention as a high school senior when he set the national high school career mark with 75 home runs and continued his home run prowess last year at USC in his freshman season. Clement earned 2003 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors and was named Collegiate Baseball Freshman National Co-Player of the Year. He batted .298 (62-for-208) and led the Trojans in home runs (21), RBI (53), walks (32), runs (53) and slugging percentage (.649). This year, Clement earned 2004 Baseball America Preseason All-America first team and NCBWA Preseason All-America first team honors. During the South Alabama series (Feb. 14-16) last year, he hit four home runs and eight RBI (two home runs on Friday and two on Saturday), which earned him Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week and Pac-10 Conference Player of the Week honors. During the week of March 18-23, he went 7-for-16 (.438) with three home runs, a double and nine RBI, along with five walks and eight runs scored against San Diego and Arizona, earning him Pac-10 Conference Player of the Week honors for the second time. On March 21 at Arizona, he hit two home runs in the same inning as the Trojans scored eight runs in the third. Clement registered three home runs in the May 16th game against Washington State in a game that was broadcast regionally on television.
M FOR MONO - Jeff Clement was diagnosed with mononucleosis in late January and has been restricted to designated hitter duties. He will be unable to catch for an indefinite period of time.
SUPERMAN IN METROPOULOS - Junior designated hitter Joey Metropoulos (Jamul/Monte Vista HS) will be counted on to produce some power numbers this season. Metropoulos, a 16th-round selection by the Detroit Tigers in the 2001 draft, batted .321 last year (67-for-209) with 11 home runs and 41 RBI. He showed his power with a pinch-hit three-run homer on March 8, 2002, against TCU at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Tx. The homer hit the top of the Round Rock Express' clubhouse in left field, estimated to be around 475-500 feet away from home plate.
NEWCOMERS TO WATCH - Freshman right-hander Ian Kennedy (Huntington Beach/La Quinta HS) is the first freshman to be the Trojans' No. 1 starter in the weekend rotation since Randy Flores in 1994. The Trojans will also have three freshmen in the lineup with outfielder Daniel Perales (Santa Ana/Mater Dei HS), outfielder Cyle Hankerd (Covina/South Hills HS) and infielder Hector Estrella (Rosemead/Northview HS). Sophomore transfer Blake Sharpe (Moorpark/L.A. Pierce College) won the starting shortstop spot during the fall.
MEET YOU IN WILLIAMSPORT - USC has not one, but two players who played in the Little League World Series. Junior pitcher Matt Cassel (Northridge/Chaminade HS) played in the 1994 LLWS, while catcher Jeff Clement played for Marshalltown, Iowa, in the 1996 LLWS.
FROM THE GRIDIRON TO THE DIAMOND - Cassel and sophomore outfielder Billy Hart (Tustin/Mission Viejo HS) have the distinction of being USC's latest football/baseball athletes. Cassel played as a quarterback and tight end on the 2003 national championship football team while Hart served as a backup quarterback. In January, Cassel joined the baseball team for the first time. Hart played in 42 games last season for the Trojans, batting .238 (20-for-84) with a home run and four RBI.
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 nine 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 (30).
2003 SEASON RECAP - The USC Trojans finished the 2003 season with a 28-28 overall record and finished in a tie for fifth place in the Pac-10 Conference with an 11-13 mark. The Trojans failed to reach the postseason for the first time in 10 years.