Trojans Face Another Difficult Test At No. 1 Stanford
May 17, 2004
LOS ANGELES - The USC baseball team (22-27, 8-10) - winner of 12 NCAA championships, more than twice as many as any other school - will travel to Pepperdine (23-29) for a nonconference game on Tuesday (May 18) at 3 p.m. USC will resume Pac-10 Conference play this weekend with a series at No. 1 Stanford (39-10, 12-6), beginning on Friday (May 21) at 6 p.m. The series will continue on Saturday (May 22) and Sunday (May 23) at 1 p.m. All four games will be broadcast live, along with Gametracker live stats, on usctrojans.com.
RANKINGS - Stanford is ranked No. 1 in the nation by Baseball America and ESPN/USA Today Sports Weekly. USC and Pepperdine are not ranked.
PEPPERDINE NOTES - Pepperdine is 23-29 on the season after being swept last weekend at Santa Clara. Head coach Steve Rodriguez is 23-29 in his first season at Pepperdine. The Waves are batting .303 as a team while its pitching staff has a 5.01 ERA. USC defeated Pepperdine, 8-4, on April 13 at Dedeaux Field. USC leads the all-time series with Pepperdine by a 80-30-1 margin.
STANFORD NOTES - Stanford is 39-10 on the season after dropping two of three last weekend at Arizona. Head coach Mark Marquess is 1,183-561-5 in his 28th season at Stanford. Stanford took two of three at USC in a nonconference series on March 5-7 this season (10-2, 8-7 and 8-11). USC leads the all-time series with Stanford by a 198-155-2 margin.
SCHEDULING THE BEST - According to Baseball America, USC is second in the nation for most games against teams that played in last year's NCAA Tournament. The Trojans have 22 of 56 games scheduled against 2003 NCAA Tournament teams, three behind Cal State Fullerton. USC has the toughest schedule in the nation, according to the latest SOS ratings at boydsworld.com.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN - The eight-game road trip to Mississippi State, Tulane and South Alabama (March 12-21) represented the most consecutive road games played by USC without returning home since April 5-14, 1974. During the 1974 road trip, the Trojans played 10 games with stops at Stanford, Arizona State, Oklahoma and Tulsa. Due to construction at Dedeaux Field at the beginning of the 2002 season, the Trojans played 22 'road' games at the start with three 'home' games played at Dodger Stadium.
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.
DOUBLE YOUR PLEASURE - USC tied a school record on March 20 at South Alabama with nine doubles in a game. The Trojans last hit nine doubles in a game on April 26, 1998, vs. UCLA. Conversely, Tulane tied a USC opponents' record with eight doubles on March 17, tying the mark set by Stanford on March 2, 1997.
COACH'S CORNER - Mike Gillespie, in his 18th season as the Trojans' head coach, has a 695-411-2 (.628) 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.
THE 700 CLUB - Head coach Mike Gillespie needs five wins to reach No. 700 at USC and one Pac-10 win to reach No. 300. He posted 418 wins at the junior college level in 16 years at College of the Canyons from 1971-86.
I LIKE IKE - Pitcher Ian Kennedy (Huntington Beach/La Quinta HS), nicknamed 'Ike,' is the first freshman to be the Trojans' No. 1 pitcher since Randy Flores in 1994. Kennedy was impressive in his first start on Feb. 13 at No. 9 Long Beach State, throwing five innings and allowing one run (unearned) on one hit with three walks and eight strikeouts. He is 6-2 this season with a 2.71 ERA and one save (79 2/3 IP, 73 H, 24 ER, 27 BB, 107 SO, .240 opponents' batting average). Kennedy was a selection on the 2004 Baseball America Midseason Freshman All-America team and was invited recently to participate in the 2004 U.S. National Team Trials in June. As of May 17, his 107 strikeouts are second in the Pac-10 Conference. Kennedy snapped a personal two-game losing streak on April 16 at Washington State, allowing a run in seven innings of work on six hits with a walk and eight strikeouts. He struck out the side in the third and the seventh innings against the Cougars. In a televised game on March 27 against UCLA, Kennedy threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings, scattering seven hits and striking out eight with one walk in a 5-0 win against the Bruins. On March 12 at No. 22 Mississippi State, he earned the victory with 6 2/3 innings, allowing only one run on five hits with two walks and nine strikeouts. He struck out the side in the ninth on March 2 to earn his first collegiate save in a 2-0 win at UC Irvine. Kennedy struck out 10 batters in five innings on Feb. 27 to earn the win against No. 5 Georgia Tech, allowing two runs on five hits. On Feb. 20 against Louisville, Kennedy struck out 11 batters in seven shutout innings of work while giving up two hits and not allowing a walk. He was a member of the 2002 U.S. Junior National Team and started for the team at the 2002 IBAF World Junior Championships in the bronze medal game, but did not get a decision in a 12-3 win (7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 10 SO).
Kennedy Game-by-Game - 2004 SeasonDate Opponent IP H R ER BB SO W-L2/13 *at #9 Long Beach St. 5.0 1 1 0 3 8 ND2/20 *vs. Louisville 7.0 2 0 0 0 11 W2/27 *vs. #5 Georgia Tech 5.0 5 2 2 1 10 W3/2 at UC Irvine 1.0 0 0 0 0 3 Save3/6 *vs. #1 Stanford 6.0 8 3 2 3 5 ND3/12 *at #22 Mississippi St. 6.2 5 1 1 2 9 W3/19 *at South Alabama 5.0 5 4 4 5 8 ND3/27 *vs. UCLA 7.1 7 0 0 1 8 W4/2 *at #14 Arizona St. 5.0 8 4 4 3 6 L4/8 *vs. California 6.2 6 3 3 2 9 L4/16 *at Washington St. 7.0 6 1 1 1 8 W4/23 *vs. Oregon State 6.0 4 1 0 3 8 W4/30 *at UCLA 5.2 9 4 4 2 7 ND5/14 *vs. #15 Washington 6.1 7 4 3 1 7 ND
HART OF A LION - Sophomore outfielder/infielder Billy Hart (Tustin/Mission Viejo HS) is playing at third base after spending the early part of the season as an outfielder. Hart is leading the team with a .362 average (47-for-130) with two home runs and 23 RBI. During the Trojans' eight-game road trip to the South, Hart led the team with a .476 average (10-for-21) including a 3-for-4 day on March 20 at South Alabama, where he hit two doubles with a bases-loaded triple and career-high four RBI in the 12-7 win.
HAMMERIN' HANK(ERD) - Freshman outfielder Cyle Hankerd (Covina/South Hills HS) has been producing at the plate, especially from the No. 9 spot in the lineup. Hankerd had seven RBI in the Arizona State series (April 2-4) and is now batting .333 (40-for-120) with a home run and 26 RBI. He hit his first collegiate home run in a 2-for-2 performance on April 13 against Pepperdine.
THE RED BARON - This season, sophomore Baron Frost (San Diego/St. Augustine HS) has seen action as a catcher, left fielder and designated hitter. Frost is batting .311 (59-for-190) with four home runs and 30 RBI. He currently leads the team with 19 doubles this season. Frost went 8-for-15 in the Arizona State series (April 2-4) with two doubles, a home run and seven RBI. On April 3 against No. 14 Arizona State, he went 3-for-6 with a double, home run and six RBI. Frost has recorded two doubles in a game four times this season (last: March 20 at South Alabama).
FRIEDMAN FROM FREMONT - Junior left-hander Michael Friedman (Fremont/Ohlone College) has been a midseason surprise for the Trojans. He is 2-0 this season with a 3.44 ERA and three saves (34 IP, 29 H, 13 ER, 11 BB, 32 SO, .227 opponents' batting average). Friedman was named Pac-10 Conference Pitcher of the Week for March 23-29 after throwing 6 2/3 no-hit innings in three appearances. He walked one and struck out seven batters as he earned a win and a save with his best performance coming on March 26 against UCLA when he pitched three perfect innings, recording four strikeouts.
SHARPE AS A TACK - Sophomore transfer Blake Sharpe (Moorpark/L.A. Pierce College) earned the starting shortstop position in the fall and has shown his offensive skills early in the 2004 season. Sharpe has a .328 batting average (67-for-204) with two home runs and 25 RBI. He batted .500 (9-for-18) in four games March 31-April 4, including a 4-for-5 performance on April 2 at No. 14 Arizona State. On Feb. 14 against No. 9 Long Beach State, he went 4-for-4 with a home run and four RBI in a 6-4 win.
CENTER (FIELD) OF ATTENTION - Freshman center fielder Daniel Perales (Orange/Mater Dei HS) has a .302 batting average (51-for-169) on the season with two home runs and 32 RBI. He has a current eight-game hitting streak, batting .385 (10-for-26). Perales had a four-RBI game on April 17 at Washington State, going 2-for-2 with a double. He had a nine-game hitting streak snapped on March 14 at No. 22 Mississippi State. On March 6, he went 3-for-4 with a triple and four RBI against No. 1 Stanford. Perales earned co-most valuable player honors at the 2004 Kia Baseball Bash in Fullerton after going 6-for-11 (.545) with four runs scored, two home runs and four RBI.
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. This season, he is batting .298 (51-for-171) with 10 home runs and 35 RBI and has been invited to the 2004 USA Baseball National Team Trials in June. He missed the first four games of the season after being diagnosed with mononucleosis in late January. Clement broke his 2004 home run drought with a three-run shot on March 16 at No. 14 Tulane and added another three-run homer on March 19 at South Alabama. On April 4 at No. 14 Arizona State, he went 4-for-5 with a double, home run and two RBI. He homered in back-to-back games on May 1 and 2 at UCLA. Behind the dish, he has thrown out 24 of 59 runners this season (41%), including four of five runners on March 6 against No. 1 Stanford. Clement earned 2003 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors. 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 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.
SUPERMAN IN METROPOULOS - Junior first baseman Joey Metropoulos (Jamul/Monte Vista HS) is batting .277 (48-for-173) with seven home runs, 28 RBI and five stolen bases this season. His first homer came on Feb. 15 at No. 9 Long Beach State in a 6-2 loss. On Feb. 27 against No. 5 Georgia Tech, he hit two solo home runs in a 9-2 win. He hit a double and home run with three RBI on March 17 at No. 14 Tulane. 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 earned 2002 Baseball America Freshman All-America honors after batting .352 with 13 home runs and 65 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.
THE KING OF PAIN - It is not Joey Metropoulos' destiny to be the king of pain, but he is on his way to tie the school season record for most times hit by a pitch. Metropoulos has been hit 18 times this season. Josh Persell set the school mark in 2001 after being hit 24 times by a pitch.
THE BUTLER DID IT - Junior right-hander Bret Butler (Woodinville, Wash./Woodinville HS) earned Pac-10 Conference Pitcher of the Week honors on April 6 after throwing 4 2/3 scoreless innings in a 10-3 win on April 4 at No. 14 Arizona State. Butler allowed just three hits with a walk and five strikeouts. He is 4-3 this season with a 6.41 ERA and two saves (46 1/3 IP, 61 H, 33 ER, 19 BB, 37 SO, .328 opponents' batting average).
MAN ON THE MOON - Senior Michael Moon (Alta Loma/Rancho Cucamonga HS) is now playing at second after being the team's starting third baseman. He is batting .270 (55-for-204) with seven home runs and 35 RBI. On May 16 against No. 15 Washington, Moon delivered a three-run homer to cap a five-run fifth inning in the Trojans' 10-8 win. During the California series, he went 8-for-14 with three doubles, a home run and six RBI. In his 2002 sophomore year, Moon earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention honors after batting .336 with eight home runs and 60 RBI. He made a name for himself after his freshman season, batting .313 with six home runs and 35 RBI. Moon went 7-for-13 (.538) with a triple, home run and five RBI at the 2001 NCAA Regional to earn Most Outstanding Player honors. He also stole home during the regional on May 25, 2001, vs. Oral Roberts and delivered one of the most electrifying moments in the history of Dedeaux Field on May 26 against Pepperdine. Down 3-2 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.
BREWSTER'S MILLIONS - Senior designated hitter Jon Brewster (Sherman Oaks/Notre Dame HS) is batting .274 this season (51-for-186) with four home runs and 25 RBI. Brewster went 6-for-12 (.500) with two home runs and five RBI at the UCLA series (April 30-May 2). He had a 12-game hitting streak snapped on April 3 at No. 14 Arizona State. On March 26 against UCLA, Brewster hit a grand slam to cap a six-run first inning on an 0-2 count in an 11-4 win.
MEET YOU IN WILLIAMSPORT - USC has three players who played in the Little League World Series. Junior pitcher Matt Cassel (Northridge/Chaminade HS) played in the 1994 LLWS. In the 1996 LLWS, catcher Jeff Clement played for Marshalltown, Iowa, while shortstop Blake Sharpe played for the Moorpark, Calif, team.
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.
90 CANDLES - Before the Feb. 14 regular season home opener against Long Beach State, the USC baseball program celebrated former head coach Rod Dedeaux's 90th birthday in grand fashion. Three members of the major league baseball Hall of Fame (Tom Seaver, Tommy Lasorda and Dodgers' announcer Vin Scully) spoke during the ceremony. Seaver was a pitcher at USC in 1965. Former Trojan and major leaguers Roy Smalley and Don Buford, along with former Dodgers' owner Peter O'Malley were also present.
30 CANDLES - The 2004 season marks the 30th season of Dedeaux Field. The first game took place on March 30, 1974, as Russ McQueen threw a no-hitter in a 7-0 win against California. With a capacity of 2,500, Dedeaux Field has been used in the production and filming of several motion pictures, including 'Mr. Baseball,' 'The Big Leaguer,' 'A League Of Their Own,' and 'For Love Of The Game.'
BASEBALL HALL OF FAME - On Feb. 1, 2003, the USC Baseball Hall of Fame opened to the public for the first time. The Hall of Fame is the final part of the $4 million Dedeaux Field renovation project that includes a new locker room, seating pavilion on the first base side and stadium seating. All 12 national championship trophies will be permanently displayed as well as the awards won by former Trojan and current Chicago Cub pitcher Mark Prior during his 2001 national player of the year season. The major league uniforms of former Trojans are also on display.
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.