Trojans Open 2010 Campaign At Cal Poly
Feb. 17, 2010
LOS ANGELES -- The USC baseball team opens the 2010 regular season this weekend at Cal Poly with a three-game series, Friday-Sunday (February 19-21). Friday and Saturday's game begins at 6 p.m. with a 1 p.m. start on Sunday. All three games will be broadcast live on usctrojans.com. Friday and Sunday's game will be video streamed for free (Cal Poly feed) at www.bigwest.org/thisweek.
CAL POLY NOTES -- Cal Poly returns 18 letterwinners from last year's squad that finished 37-21 overall and played in the NCAA Tempe Regional. Head coach Larry Lee is 223-175-2 in his eighth year at Cal Poly. Sophomore second baseman Matt Jensen batted .375 for the Mustangs last year with two home runs and 53 RBI. USC leads the all-time series with Cal Poly by a 17-4 margin. This is the first time in school history that USC has played a three-game series at Cal Poly.
· USC is 13-4 in its last 17 season openers.
· Andrew Triggs is rated as the No. 38 overall college prospect by Baseball America for the 2010 major league draft (he is a draft-eligible sophomore).
· Ricky Oropesa is rated as the No. 23 college sophomore by Baseball America while Triggs is rated No. 28. Shuhei Fujiya is rated No. 22 among college seniors.
· The Trojans have four pitchers on the staff that stand 6-6 or taller: Chris Mezger (6-10), Ben Mount (6-8), Jordan Hershiser (6-8) and Logan Odom (6-6).
DODGERTOWN CLASSIC -- USC will play UCLA in a nonconference game at Dodger Stadium on Sunday (Feb. 28) to conclude a four-team tournament that includes Oklahoma State and Vanderbilt. The USC-UCLA game at 2 p.m. will be televised live on FOX Sports Net with a delayed broadcast nationally.
All proceeds from the event will benefit the Dodgers Dream Foundation to help build Dodgers Dreamfields for children. The Dodgers Dream Foundation will also extend invitations to the Dodgertown Classic to local children and families and provide an interactive forum for children and tournament participants.
Tickets for the event will cost $5 and can be purchased in advance at www.dodgers.com/classic and in person at USC and UCLA campus box offices. Day of game tickets can be purchased at Dodger Stadium for $10. Each ticket will permit access to both of the day's games. There will be no charge for parking at Dodger Stadium for the event. Fans are reminded that tailgating will not be permitted in any of the parking lots.
TROJANS ON THE NET -- USC baseball games this season will be broadcast live on usctrojans.com with video webcasts for every home game, courtesy of Trojans All-Access.
TROJANS PICKED EIGHTH IN PAC-10 -- USC was picked to finish eighth in the Pac-10 Conference, according to the preseason coaches poll. The Trojans were slotted behind Arizona State, Oregon State, UCLA, Stanford, Arizona, Washington State and Cal and ahead of Washington and Oregon.
IT'S ONLY A GAME -- Perhaps one of the best college baseball stories in the nation this season is sophomore infielder Taylor Wrenn (Lakeland, Fla./Manatee College), who is simply happy to be playing the game.
On January 8, Wrenn suffered a severe allergic reaction to a medication he was taking and fell into a coma over the course of three days. After recovering from the life-threatening bout, Wrenn returned to the field and will look to play as soon as possible.
TROJANS IN THE MAJORS -- In the history of the USC baseball program, a total of 96 players had made it to the major leagues.
KREUTER'S KORNER -- On June 2, 2006, Chad Kreuter became just the fourth head baseball coach at USC in the past 77 years. Kreuter was named head coach after his father-in-law, Mike Gillespie, announced his retirement. Kreuter took the position after starting the 2006 season as the manager for the Modesto Nuts of the California League, the single A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. He spent the 2005 season as director of operations for the USC baseball program after retiring from the major leagues. In a career that spanned 17 seasons, Kreuter played in a total of 944 games with a .237 career average, 54 home runs, 274 RBI and .990 fielding percentage. He started with the Texas Rangers in 1988 and later played with the Detroit Tigers, Seattle Mariners, Anaheim Angels, Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Dodgers. His best season came in 1993 with Detroit, batting .286 (107-for-374) with 15 home runs and 51 RBI. During his career, Kreuter worked with top-flight pitchers such as Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Eric Gagne, Kevin Brown, Charlie Hough, Frank Tanana, Bill Gullickson, Walt Terrell, James Baldwin, Chuck Finley, Mark Langston, Robb Nen, Kenny Rogers and Chan Ho Park. He played college baseball at Pepperdine for three seasons (1983-85).
HOG HEAVEN -- Doyle Wilson is in his third season at USC as assistant coach after seven seasons as the head coach at Chandler-Gilbert (Ariz.) Community College. With a lengthy scouting background, Wilson compiled a 255-140 record at Chandler-Gilbert. He was a two-time all-conference catcher at Arkansas and played for the Razorbacks in the 1985 College World Series. Wilson is the recruiting coordinator and works as lead hitting coach.
FULL HOUSE -- Tom House, who pitched for the Trojans in 1967, is in his third season as the pitching coach. After spending eight seasons in the major leagues, House was the pitching coach for three major league teams before becoming the founder and CEO of the famed National Pitching Association in San Diego. His principles are based in three-dimensional motion analysis, mental and emotional profiles and nutritional assessments. In 2009, Collegiate Baseball expanded its Coach of the Year Award by renaming it the Tom House Teaching Professional Award for his lifetime research and coaching expertise.
TAKING ANOTHER CRUZ -- Frank Cruz begins his second tour of duty at USC after 12 seasons as head coach at Loyola Marymount (1997-2008) and is in his second season as USC's volunteer assistant coach. Cruz served as assistant coach at USC from 1993-96 under former head coach Mike Gillespie. He was an assistant coach for Team USA in 2000 and served as head coach in 2004, guiding the squad to the program's first-ever gold medal at the FISU World University Championships in Taiwan.
CITY OF ORO -- Sophomore infielder Ricky Oropesa (Rancho Cucamonga/Etiwanda HS) is coming off a solid freshman campaign, earning Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America and Pac-10 Conference honorable mention honors after batting .314 (58-for-185) and leading the Trojans with 13 home runs and 48 RBI.
He hit two home runs in a game twice last season, both around a span of one week. He hit two on April 21, 2009, against Loyola Marymount with the second one coming on April 29 at No. 6 Cal State Fullerton, where he had five RBI. He hit home runs in back-to-back games on April 9 and 10 against Oregon. He hit an opposite-field home run against UCLA's highly-touted freshman Gerrit Cole on March 21. On March 14, he hit his first collegiate home run and had a season-high four RBI.
As a 24th round draft selection in the 2008 draft by the Boston Red Sox, Oropesa batted .563 with six home runs, two triples and 16 RBI as a senior in high school and .547 as a junior with 11 home runs and 46 RBI.
PULL THE TRIGGER -- Sophomore right-hander Andrew Triggs (Nashville, Tenn./Montgomery Bell Academy) had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow prior to his senior season of high school, but bounced back after two years on the sidelines. Triggs earned Pac-10 Conference honorable mention recognition last season as a freshman, going 5-3 with a 3.96 ERA (75.0 IP, 79 H, 33 ER, 20 BB, 50 SO, .276 OBA).
He earned his fourth win of the season on April 18 at No. 14 Oregon State, allowing just two runs in eight innings. On March 22 against UCLA in his second start, he threw seven scoreless innings against the Bruins, allowing just three hits with seven strikeouts for the win. He celebrated his 20th birthday on March 16 with his first collegiate win in his first start against Winthrop (7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER). He threw six strong innings in relief on March 7 at Tulane, allowing two runs on five hits with a walk and three strikeouts.
KNEEL BEFORE THE KING -- Senior outfielder Mike O'Neill (Riverside/Poly HS) made 51 starts in 52 games last season, finishing second on the team with a .319 (61-for-191) batting average. He had three home runs, 17 RBI and seven stolen bases.
He hit his first home run of the season on April 14 against No. 6 Cal State Fullerton. He recorded his first career three-hit game on March 31 at No. 23 Cal Poly and later went 5-for-5 with a triple and scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth on May 19 against UC Riverside.
SPARE THE ROD -- Sophomore outfielder Alex Sherrod (Marrieta, Ga./Walton HS) started in 31 games last season for the Trojans in right field. He batted .296 (34-for-115) with 11 RBI. This season, Sherrod might be utilized as a pitcher as well.
He hit a two-run double in the ninth to help USC defeat No. 14 Oregon State on April 18 in Corvallis and set up a 9-2 double play in the bottom of the ninth on April 19 to send the game into extra innings.
DE PINTO BEANS -- Junior infielder Joe De Pinto (Sunland, St. Francis HS) has recovered from an ACL injury to his left knee suffered last summer. In 53 starts, he batted .277 (53-for-191) last season with three home runs and 22 RBI while finishing second on the team with 11 stolen bases.
De Pinto went 4-for-4 on March 25 in the first game of a doubleheader against Brown last year. He had a six-game hitting streak and recorded three-hit games on March 13 and 16 against Winthrop. He had an inside-the-park home run on March 8 at Tulane while his first collegiate home run came on Feb. 28 against Western Carolina, hitting a three-run shot to left at Dedeaux Field.
In 2008, he made 34 starts in 42 games as he batted .203 (24-for-118) with five RBI and two stolen bases.
THOUSAND POINTS OF LIGHT -- Sophomore right-hander Chad Smith (Thousand Oaks/Thousand Oaks HS) worked himself into the weekend rotation after a solid freshman campaign.
Smith went 3-4 last season with a 3.40 ERA (45 IP, 51 H, 17 ER, 16 BB, 38 SO, .273 OBA) with one save. He made four starts in 18 appearances.
COUTURE OF DUTY -- Senior right-hander Kevin Couture (Coronado/Coronado HS) finished 3-3 last season for the Trojans, making nine starts in 15 games with a 5.66 ERA (49 1/3 IP, 59 H, 31 ER, 25 BB, 40 SO, .298 OBA).
He earned Pac-10 Conference Pitcher of the Week honors at the start of the 2009 season after striking out a career-high 10 batters in seven scoreless innings on Feb. 21 at Long Beach State. He allowed just two hits and one walk as USC shut out the 49ers, 4-0.
He made 14 starts in 2008, going 6-2 with a 4.27 ERA (84 1/3 IP, 89 H, 40 ER, 19 BB, 65 SO, .276 OBA). He closed out the season with a then-career high eight strikeouts in seven scoreless innings on May 25 at Washington State. On May 6 against Cal Poly, he tossed six scoreless innings to earn the win and threw eight innings on April 2 at No. 17 San Diego and gave up just one earned run on seven hits with six strikeouts to get the victory in the 3-2 decision. On Feb. 26 at San Diego State, the hometown native made his collegiate debut and sparkled with six scoreless innings, allowing just two hits with three walks and six strikeouts.
In 2007, Couture went 2-1 with a 5.79 ERA in 25 appearances. In 37 1/3 innings, he allowed 42 hits with 16 walks and 45 strikeouts with opponents hitting .290 against him. He earned his first collegiate win on Feb. 17 at San Diego State with 1 2/3 innings, allowing one earned run on three hits.
HOUTS IN THE HOUTFIELD -- Sophomore outfielder Garret Houts (Fort Collins, Colo./Fort Collins HS) made 19 starts in 33 games last season. He batted .232 (13-for-56) with one home run and six RBI.
Houts recorded his first collegiate home run last year on March 7 at Tulane in a 2-for-4 performance.
KING OF HIS CASTILLO -- Senior Keith Castillo (Huntington Beach/Mater Dei HS) appeared in 28 games last year with 17 starts, batting .159 (11-for-69) with a home run and eight RBI. He went 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI in a 6-4 loss on March 8 at Tulane.
He finished the 2008 season by hitting .406 in his final 11 games. Castillo finished with a .242 average (16-for-66) with four doubles, a home run and eight RBI.
GRECO-ROMAN WRESTLING -- Sophomore infielder/outfielder Mike Greco (Scottsdale, Ariz./Army) redshirted last season for the Trojans after making 43 starts in 46 games at Army during the 2008 season.
He batted .250 (39-for-156) for Army with two home runs, 11 doubles, three stolen bases and 27 RBI.
SIERRA MIST -- Sophomore infielder Matthew Foat (Rescue/Ponderosa HS/Sierra College) earned 2009 All Big-8 Conference first team honors at Sierra College after batting .395 (70-for-177) with 18 doubles, six home runs, 36 RBI and nine stolen bases.
GLENNGARRY GLENN ROSS -- Freshman outfielder Alex Glenn (McDonough, Ga./Henry County HS) will be getting a good look this season. He was a 2009 ESPN Rise Magazine all-area first team selection in his senior season and was drafted in the 37th round of the 2009 MLB draft by the Florida Marlins.
STOCK MARKET REDUX -- Freshman catcher Richard Stock (Westlake Village/Agoura HS) is following in the footsteps of his brother, Robert, at USC. His brother played from 2007-09 as a catcher/pitcher for the Trojans and was selected in the second round (67th overall) in the 2009 MLB draft by the St. Louis Cardinals.
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 (1995-1998-2000-2001), winning their 12th CWS title in 1998. USC has the second-most wins (74) at the CWS and is tied for third for most appearances (21).
DEDEAUX FIELD: EXTREME MAKEOVER -- One of Chad Kreuter's first tasks as head coach was to make Dedeaux Field one of the top collegiate facilities on the West Coast. The traditional red-colored outfield wooden fence was torn down in 2007 and replaced with a safer chain-linked fence which is covered by green padding. The 2008 season added the RDRBI (Rod Dedeaux Research for Baseball Institute) and a brand-new Daktronics scoreboard with video capabilities to Dedeaux Field. The batting cages on the third-base side were completely renovated with the addition of a baseball-specific weight room. Fieldturf has been placed behind home plate prior to the 2009 season as a further improvement. A plan is currently in the works to modernize the field lighting system as well.
TROJAN 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 was the final part of a $4 million Dedeaux Field renovation project that included a new locker room, seating pavilion on the first base side and stadium seating. All 12 national championship trophies are permanently displayed as well as the awards won by former Trojan pitcher Mark Prior during his 2001 national player of the year season. Prior made a sizable donation to help complete the project. The major league uniforms of former Trojans are also on display.
THE 'OTHER' HALLS OF FAME -- Former USC pitcher Tom Seaver was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992 with a 98.8% vote, which remains the highest percentage ever for an inducted member. In the summer of 2006, legendary coach Rod Dedeaux (who passed away on January 5, 2006) was a member of the inaugural class for the College Baseball Hall of Fame in Lubbock, Texas. Another USC addition was made in 2007 when former outfielder Fred Lynn is inducted. He appeared on three consecutive USC national championship squads (1971, 1972 and 1973) and had a career .320 average with 28 home runs and 111 RBI. He also earned 1971 All-College World Series honors for the Trojans.