Baseball

    Mar. 4, 1997

    No. 7 USC Returns Home to Face Cal

    THE TEAM
    The No. 7-ranked USC baseball team (17-6 overall, 2-4 in Pacific-10 Southern Division play) returns home after 4 consecutive weekends on the road to host California (9-12, 0-3). The Trojans, who are 2-time defending Pac-10 champions, were swept at Stanford last weeekend after winning a season-best 9 in a row. USC has won 5 in a row over Cal. This weekend's series will be played Friday (Mar. 7) at 7 p.m., Saturday (Mar. 8) at 1 p.m. and Sunday (Mar. 9) at 1 p.m.

    THE RANKINGS
    USC is currently ranked No. 7 in Baseball Weekly and Baseball America and No. 11 in Collegiate Baseball. In the pre-season polls, USC was listed No. 3 by Baseball America and No. 6 by Collegiate Baseball. The Trojans were tabbed by the conference coaches to win the Southern Division title (the third time in the past 4 years that USC has been picked to win the league). California is unranked.

    BY THE NUMBERS
    USC has a .330 team batting average and a 4.17 team ERA. Opponents are hitting .256 against Trojan pitchers. USC has posted double figures in hits in 7 of the last 9 games. The Trojans have stolen 46 bases in 56 attempts (Morgan Ensberg and Wes Rachels lead with 8 apiece) while opponents have only 15 thefts (in 22 tries) Top Trojan hitters are outfielder Greg Hanoian (.486) and second baseman Wes Rachels (.389).

    THIS PAST WEEK
    USC was swept at Stanford this past weekend (the last time the Trojans were swept by Stanford was in 1991). In the opener, Kyle Peterson threw a complete game 6-hit shutout to lead the Cardinal to a 4-0 victory. The Stanford win broke several Trojan streaks: USC's 9-game win streak in 1997, USC's 8-game win streak at Sunken Diamond, and Troy's 9 game win streak over Stanford (dating back to 1995). In the second game, it took 12 innings for Stanford to outlast the Trojans, 4-3. Trailing 4-1 in the sixth, USC scored 3 runs--2 on a double by Brian Ponchak--to tie the game. The Cardinal won in extra innings as Chris Clark, who opened the inning with a double and advanced to third on a wild pitch, scored on a throwing error. In the finale, Stanford outslugged USC, 22-13. Stanford scored 9 runs in the first inning but USC came back to take a 10-9 lead in the fourth. But the Trojan pitchers couldn't hold down the Cardinal, who collected 22 hits. USC had 16 hits, including a home run by Eric Munson. USC's scheduled contest at Nevada on Monday was cancelled in the third inning (with the score tied at 4) due to snow.

    COACH'S CORNER
    In his 10th season as the Trojan head coach, Mike Gillespie has a 409-236-2 (.634) career record and has led USC to 3 conference titles (1991-95-96), 8 trips to the NCAA Regionals in 10 years (reaching the Regional finals 6 times), and a trip to the 1995 College World Series (where the Trojans finished as the nation's runner-up). He has been named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year 3 times (1991-95-96) and was also honored as the 1996 West Region Coach of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association. He was also selected as one of the assistant coaches for the 1997 USA Baseball Team. Gillespie was the leftfielder for the 1961 USC team that won the national championship (his 1960 team finished as the College World Series runner-up). He picked up his 400th USC victory this season with Troy's 11-8 win over UC Santa Barbara on Feb. 11. Gillespie has a 43-17 record against California.

    SCOUTING THE GOLDEN BEARS
    Unranked California, under 20-year head coach Bob Milano (627-555-4), is 9-12 overall (0-3 in league). The Bears, who are without pre-season All-American pitcher Ryan Drese (arm injury), have a .280 team batting average and 5.49 team ERA. Top hitters for California are sophomore shortstop Brian Oliver (.390, 0 HR, 10 RBI), a pre-season All-American, and senior infielder Jim Schmidt (.388, 0, 9). On the mound, the Bears will send out senior righthander Drew Fischer (2-2, 5.18), freshman righthander Jon Shirley (2-1, 2.67), and junior righthander Doug Nickle (1-2, 3.49).

    THE SERIES
    USC leads the series with California that began in 1924, 194-111-2. The Trojans won 5 of 6 meetings last year, losing the first game at USC and then sweeping the next 5 (including all 3 games at Berkeley).

    VS. THE BEARS
    Here's a look at how the Trojans have fared against California in their careers:

    BATTERS      G  AB   H  HR  RBI   AVG
    Brown        6   6   0   0   0   .000
    DePippo      1   0   0   0   0   .000
    Ensberg      5  18   7   2   3   .389
    Gorr         1   0   0   0   0   .000
    Hanoian      4   7   2   0   0   .286
    Mirizzi      6  20   6   0   3   .300
    Ponchak      3   7   0   0   0   .000
    Rachels      5   8   1   0   0   .125
    Walbridge   12  46  13   1   8   .283
    PITCHERS    G   IP   ER  SO   W-L  SV    ERA
    Etherton    2  18.0   2  17   2-0   0   1.00
    Flores      6  43.3  12  20   3-2   0   2.49
    Henderson   4  16.7  13   5   0-0   0   7.02
    Immel       2   5.3   0   1   2-0   0   0.00
    Jones       1   0.0   2   0   0-0   0   ---
    Krawczyk    3   6.0   0   6   0-0   1   0.00
    Penney      1   2.0   1   1   0-0   0   4.50
    Ponchak     1   0.7   1   1   0-1   0  13.43

    STREAKIN'
    Second baseman Wes Rachels has hit safely in all 14 games he has played this year, going 21-for-54 (.389) with a home run (a leadoff shot in the first inning of USC's season opener against Cal State Los Angeles) and 10 RBI.

    SIX-PAC POWERHOUSE
    No Pac-10 Southern Division team has been more successful in the 1990s than USC. The Trojans have won 133 games in that span (Stanford is second with 132) with an unmatched 3 conference titles.

    POWERHOUSE, PT. 2
    USC's 24 wins in conference action last year are the most league wins by any Trojan team in history. That 24-6 mark by USC is also the best conference record by any team since Stanford went 24-6 in 1990.

    POWERHOUSE, PT. 3
    Troy last won consecutive conference crowns in 1977-78 (the only other team to win back-to-back league crowns since the Six-Pac was formed in 1979 was Arizona State in 1981-82). The last time USC won more than 2 conference titles in a row was when the Trojans won 6 straight from 1970-75.

    TROJAN TRADITION
    No other university can match the collegiate baseball tradition of USC. Troy has captured an unprecedented 11 NCAA championships (no other school has more than 5), 36 conference titles and 18 College World Series appearances (tied for third-most in the nation). Trojan players have been named first team All-American 36 times, and more than 70 former players have gone on to play in the major leagues, including such stars as Tom Seaver, Fred Lynn, Ron Fairly, Randy Johnson, Mark McGwire and Bret Boone.

    Trojan Starting Pitchers

    RANDY FLORES
    Probably the most underrated pitcher in college baseball today, senior lefthander Randy Flores anchors what is considered one of the strongest pitching staffs in the nation. Flores, a College Baseball pre-season All-American third teamer, has had a stellar career at USC (36-5 in 4 seasons) and is on the verge of becoming USC's all-time winningest pitcher (his 37 wins are 3 shy of leader Bruce Gardner's 40 and rank No. 3). The 1995 Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year and an All-Pac-10 first team pick in both 1994 and 1996, he could be the first pitcher ever to earn 4-time all-conference honors. Flores, who was 9-1 with a 3.50 ERA in 1996, is currently 4-2 with a 3.32 ERA, and opponents have a .255 batting average against him.

    FLORES IN 1997
    DATE    OPPONENT       W/L   IP  H   R   ER  BB  K   SCORE   
    1/24    CS Los Angeles  W   6.0  3   1   1   1   5   W, 17-4
    1/31    Arizona State   W   7.0  6   3   3   2   1   W, 12-3
    2/7     at Long Beach   W   6.2  6   1   1   2   7   W, 6-1
    2/14    at Hawaii       L   6.2  6   4   4   3   6   L, 9-3 
    2/21    Mississippi     W   6.0  7   2   1   2   4   W, 18-2
    2/28    at Stanford     L   5.2  9   4   4   2   3   L, 4-0

    SETH ETHERTON
    Junior Seth Etherton, the 1996 Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year and 1996 All-American second teamer, has established himself as one of the nation's finest righthanded pitchers and is a candidate for 1997 All-American honors. Etherton, who was USC's winningest pitcher last year at 12-3 with a 3.94 ERA, was 10-0 with a 2.93 ERA in Pac-10 games, notching a victory in every conference start (the last pitcher to do so was Arizona's Scott Erickson in 1989). On the year, he is 4-0 with a 2.38 ERA, and opponents are hitting .214 against him. He has 43 strikeouts in 41.2 innings. He had USC's top performance this year at Long Beach State: he went the distance (for USC's first complete game) and held the 49ers to one run on 3 hits and no walks while striking out 10. He equalled his career-best in strikeouts at Hawaii with 12.

    ETHERTON IN 1997
    DATE    OPPONENT        W/L IP   H   R   ER  BB  K   SCORE
    1/24    CS Los Angeles  W   5.0  2   0   0   2   8   W, 8-1  
    2/1     Arizona State   ND  6.0  8   3   2   1   6   L, 7-3
    2/8     Long Beach St.  W   8.0  8   3   3   1   2   W, 4-3
    2/15    at Hawaii       W   8.0  5   3   1   2  12   W, 4-3
    2/23    at Long Beach   W   9.0  3   1   1   0  10   W, 7-1
    3/1     at Stanford     ND  5.2  8   4   4   3   5   L, 5-4

    SCOTT HENDERSON
    A talented righthander, senior Scott Henderson returns to again serve as Troy's No. 3 starter after earning 1996 All-Pac-10 honorable mention notice in the same role last year. Henderson, who was 8-1 with a 3.19 ERA in 1996, is currently 4-1 with a 7.11 ERA. He has walked only 4 batters in 25.1 innings.

    HENDERSON IN 1997
    DATE    OPPONENT           W/L IP    H   R   ER  BB  K   SCORE
    1/28    Loyola Marymount    W   5.0  2   1   1   0   2   W, 7-2
    2/2     Arizona State       W   6.0  7   4   2   1   3   W, 9-6
    2/9     at Long Beach St.   L   2.0  8   6   6   0   0   L, 7-3
    2/16    at Hawaii           W   6.0  7   4   3   2   4   W, 12-4
    2/22    Notre Dame          W   6.0  5   4   4   0   4   W, 14-4
    3/2     at Stanford         ND  0.1  3   4   4   1   0   L, 22-13

    WALLY'S WORLD
    Senior Greg Walbridge, a 1996 All-Pac-10 first teamer and USC's Most Hustle and Spirit Award winner, returns for his third season as Troy's starting first baseman. Walbridge, who came into the season with a .342 career batting average, is currently hitting .304 with 17 RBI. He had a 9-game hitting streak (16-for-36, .444) snapped against Notre Dame. In the Arizona State series, he was 6-for-15 (.400) with 3 doubles and 3 RBI. He picked up 4 hits in 5 at-bats with a triple in the finale at Hawaii.

    HOT HANOIAN
    With his torrid hitting in 1997, sophomore Greg Hanoian has established himself as one of Troy's starting outfielders. He is USC's leading hitter with an impressive .486 average. He had a 9-game hitting streak (22-for-38, .579) snapped in the Stanford opener. Against Pepperdine, he was 5-for-5 with a double and 3 RBI (he hit safely in 8 straight plate appearances). He had multiple hits and at least one RBI in 6 straight games.

    WONDERFUL WES
    Junior second baseman Wes Rachels, who was named to the 1995 All-College World Series team as just a freshman, has hit safely in all 14 games he has played this year, going 21-for-54 (.389) with a home run (a leadoff shot in the first inning of USC's season opener against Cal State Los Angeles) and 10 RBI. It was his second career home run and his first at Dedeaux Field (his other came at the 1995 College World Series). Troy's leadoff hitter, Rachels has also walked 11 times and has a .500 on-base percentage. He reached base safely in his first 7 plate appearances of 1997 (spanning 2 games), getting 2 hits and 5 walks. He missed 8 games following the death of his father (Dr. Arthur Rachels) on Feb. 15.

    NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
    Freshman catcher Eric Munson is proving worthy of his pre-season accolades as one of the nation's top freshmen. He is hitting .354 with 5 doubles and 20 RBI, and he leads the team with 6 home runs and 22 walks. He hit 2 home runs in USC's 4-3 win over Long Beach State. Behind the plate, he has thrown out 13 of 18 baserunners (.722).

    MAKING HIS MARC
    There may not be a more exciting defensive player in college baseball than senior shortstop Marc Mirizzi. Mirizzi, who made several dazzling defensive plays against Arizona State (he has 3 errors in 117 total chances (.974) and has taken part in 11 double plays. Additionally, he's hitting .307 with 16 RBI. He was 4-for-5 with a double and 4 RBI in USC's season opener and also went 4-for-5 with 3 RBI against UC Santa Barbara.

    KRAFTY KRAWCZYK
    Junior righthander Jack Krawczyk, the Pac-10's top relief pitcher in 1996 with a league-leading 12 saves (No. 4 on USC's single-season list), has appeared in 12 games in 1997 and has 3 saves. Opponents are hitting .194 against him. Krawczyk, who earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention honors last year, has 18 career saves which rank No. 3 on Troy's all-time list.

    INJURY REPORT
    Senior catcher Jason Brown has missed the last 4 weeks following surgery on his left knee to repair a torn meniscus.

    TOUGH SCHEDULE
    USC once again boasts one of the nation's toughest schedules: Troy plays 39 of 58 games against teams ranked in the pre-season polls, including 20 games against teams ranked in the Top 10. In addition, the Trojans will play 33 of their 58 games on the road.

    Gillespie Victory Milestones

    No. 100 -- vs. Stanford (10-4) -- April 16, 1989
    No. 200 -- vs. Portland (3-0) -- February 21, 1992
    No. 300 -- vs. Washington State (8-0) -- February 2, 1995
    No. 400 -- vs. UCSB (11-8) -- February 11, 1997

    Trojan Top Performances

    HITTING
    Freitas   -- 4-5, 2 2b, 3b, 4 RBI  (at UHH)
    Gorr      -- 5-6, 2 2b, 3 RBI (at UHH)
    Hanoian   -- 4-6, 2b (Miss.)
                 5-5, 2B, 3 RBI (Pepp)
    Mirizzi   -- 4-5, 2b, 4 RBI (CSLA)
                 4-5, 3 RBI (UCSB)
    Munson    -- 2-5, 2b, 4 RBI (CSLA)
    Ponchak   -- 2-6, 2b, HR, 5 RBI  (Miss.)
    Walbridge -- 4-5, 3b, RBI (at UH)
    PITCHING
    Immel    -- 5.3 IP, 9 K (UCSB)
    Etherton -- 8 IP, 5 H, 12  K (at UH)
                9 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 10 K (at LB)