May 19, 1997
USC Nabs No. 2 Seed in South II Regional
THE TEAM -- USC, ranked No. 9 in the nation, is 39-18 overall and seeded No. 2 in the South II Regional. The Trojans went 17-13 in Pacific-10 Southern Division play for third place.
USC opens South II Regional action on Thursday (May 22) at 1 p.m. (PDT) against No. 5 seed Virginia Tech (33-26). All games will be played at Alabama's Sewell-Thomas Stadium in Tuscaloosa.
The Trojans, who came into the 1997 season as two-time defending Pac-10 champions, recently completed a stretch run that put them on the road for 17 of the final 22 games (in which the Trojans went 14-8) and have won 8 of their last 10 games.
ON THE AIR -- All NCAA tournament games can be heard live on KYPA-AM (1230) radio with Larry Kahn and former Trojan player and assistant coach Justin Dedeaux calling the action.
THE RANKINGS -- USC is currently ranked No. 9 in Baseball America, No. 10 in Collegiate Baseball and No. 11 in Baseball Weekly. In the pre-season polls, USC was listed No. 3 by Baseball America and No. 6 by Collegiate Baseball.
THE NUMBERS -- USC has a .331 team batting average and a 4.61 team ERA. Opponents are hitting .281 against Trojan pitchers. The Trojans have stolen 88 bases (junior Wes Rachels leads with 15) while opponents have only 37 thefts (in 63 tries). USC hitters lead the conference with 278 walks while Trojan pitchers have issued the fewest walks (162). Top Trojan hitters are senior Jason Brown (.382), Rachels (.355) and freshman Eric Munson (.347). USC, which hit just 7 home runs in its first 14 games, finished the regular season hitting 25 home runs in the last 10 games. Brown hit 3 grand slams in a span of 6 games (10 days), and added a USC-best 7 RBI at San Diego State. The Trojans have hit back-to-back home runs in a game 4 times this year. Junior Morgan Ensberg was 10-for-12 in a 2-game span (6-for-7 at UC Santa Barbara and 4-for-5 at Cal State Northridge).
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.
SIX-PAC POWERHOUSE -- No Pac-10 Southern Division team has been more successful in the last 7 years than USC. The Trojans have won 132 games in that span (Stanford is second with 126) with an unmatched 3 conference titles.
IN THE PLAYOFFS -- This is USC's 30th appearance overall and its ninth trip in the last 10 years to an NCAA regional (the Trojans have a 73-32 record in the regionals). USC has an overall 174-61 playoff record, including a 34-8 mark in league championship series. The Trojans have won an unmatched 11 national titles, played in 18 College World Series (posting a 67-21 mark there) and won the NCAA title 7 of the last 8 times they've reached Omaha.
AGAINST THE SOUTH II REGIONAL FIELD -- USC has played only North Carolina State and Wichita State previously. USC won its only meeting at Wichita State, 13-1, in 1979. The Trojans and the Wolfpack first met in 1968 and the series is tied 2-2. USC won, 2-0, in the 1968 CWS semifinal, then lost twice at the North Carolina Tournament (7-4 in 1990, 12-8 in 1991) before winning in the same tournament, 14-1, in 1993.
VERSUS THE NCAA BASEBALL TOURNEY FIELD -- USC has a 751-428-6 record against the 48-team 1997 NCAA Division I baseball championship field, including 13-11 in 1997.
COACH'S CORNER -- In his 11th season as the Trojan head coach, Mike Gillespie has a 431-248-2 (.634) career record and has led USC to 3 conference titles (1991-95-96), 9 trips to the NCAA Regionals in 11 years (reaching the Regional final 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 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 IN THE NCAAS -- Thirty-six years ago, Mike Gillespie was the leftfielder for USC's 1961 team that won the College World Series in Omaha (Neb.). Now, as the Trojan head coach, he is hoping to return to Omaha for his second trip in 3 years. Gillespie has a 46-22 record in the NCAA playoffs (both as a player and a coach). In his 3-year playing career (1960-62), the Trojans went 8-2 in district playoffs and 9-2 in the CWS (17-4 overall). As the Trojan mentor, Gillespie has a 21-15 regional record in 8 trips to the playoffs, 4-2 at the CWS and 4-1 in the league playoffs. He is one of 4 active coaches to have played and coached in the CWS.
SEASON RECAP -- USC, the 2-time defending Pac-10 champion which was ranked as high as No. 3 in the pre-season polls, began the season winning 7 of its first 8 games (including 2 of 3 over Arizona State in January in the earliest start to conference action ever). The Trojans were then bit by the injury/illness bug, losing catcher Jason Brown for 19 games (knee surgery) and second baseman Wes Rachels (death of his father) for 8 games. Despite a thin lineup, Troy won 10 of the next 12 non-conference games, including a season-best 9-game winning streak.
USC returned to conference action and hit a roadblock as it was swept at Stanford in the 3-game series. The Trojans rebounded to win 5 of their next 6 league games and 9 of 12, despite losing first baseman Greg Walbridge for 3 games (perforated eardrum) and outfielder Greg Hanoian for the remainder of the season (shoulder surgery).
After a late-season slump in which Troy lost 6 of 8 games, USC finished strong, winning 8 of its last 10 games to finish 17-13 in league play for third place and 39-18 overall.
M.A.S.H. UNIT -- Due to injury and/or illness, USC has played 44 of its 57 games without the services of at least one starting position player (11 games with 2 starters missing and 33 games with one starter out). The Trojans have also lost their scheduled starting pitcher for 4 games due to illness. USC is 8-5 in the games played with a complete lineup. Players missing significant action include second baseman Wes Rachels (8 games, death of his father/1 game, strained leg muscle), Jason Brown (19 games, knee surgery/1 game, bruised forearm), Greg Walbridge (3 games, perforated eardrum) and Greg Hanoian (21 games, shoulder surgery).
ALL-PAC-10 -- USC had 4 selections to the 1997 Pac-10 Southern Division All-Conference team: junior pitcher Seth Etherton, senior shortstop Marc Mirizzi, freshman catcher Eric Munson and junior second baseman Wes Rachels. In addition, 4 players were named as honorable mention: senior designated hitter Jason Brown, senior pitcher Randy Flores, senior reliever Jack Krawczyk and senior first baseman Greg Walbridge.
RANDY FLORES -- Probably the most underrated pitcher in college baseball today, senior lefthander Randy Flores ranks as USC's all-time winningest pitcher with 41 wins (surpassing Bruce Gardner's 40 victories in 1958-60). Flores, a Collegiate Baseball pre-season All-American third teamer, has had a stellar career at USC (41-10 in 4 seasons). He ranks No. 2 on the all-time innings pitched list with 470.2 (2 innings shy of leader Randy Powers' 472.2). His 305 career strikeouts rank No. 3 on the Trojan all-time list (behind Brent Strom at 363 and Powers at 312). The 1995 Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year and an All-Pac-10 first team pick in both 1994 and 1996, Flores could be the first pitcher ever to earn 4-time all-conference honors. He is currently 8-5 with a 4.44 ERA. He has 82 strikeouts and 31 walks (4 intentional) in 99.1 innings. He posted a career-high 13 strikeouts in 8 innings against Arizona to earn selections as a Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week and Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week. He captured his 40th career win at Arizona State to tie Gardner for the top spot in USC's career wins list (he struck out 12 to earn Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors, the seventh time he's been so honored). He surpassed Gardner's mark at Arizona, where he pitched his 21st career complete game and struck out 11 in USC's 8-6 win.
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 3/7 California W 8.0 5 3 1 2 10 W, 7-5 3/14 Arizona W 8.0 7 2 0 1 13 W, 3-2 3/22 UCLA L 4.0 10 6 6 1 1 L, 12-6 3/27 at Arizona St W 9.0 7 7 2 2 12 W, 12-7 4/4 Stanford L 4.1 9 10 8 2 3 L, 15-9 4/11 at California L 8.0 8 3 3 4 2 L, 3-2 4/18 at Arizona W 9.0 11 6 5 2 11 W, 8-6 4/25 at UCLA ND 5.0 8 6 6 4 2 W, 10-6 5/10 at CSNorthridge ND 6.0 12 6 6 1 2 W, 8-7 CAREER HIGHS: IP: 9 (18 times); K: 13 (vs. Arizona, 3/14/97); Complete games: 21
SETH ETHERTON -- Junior Seth Etherton, a 1997 All-Pac-10 first teamer and the 1996 Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year, has established himself as one of the nation's finest righthanded pitchers. A 1997 All-American candidate (after earning All-American second team honors last year), Etherton is 9-2 with a 3.17 ERA, and opponents are hitting .249 against him in 1997. He has 96 strikeouts and 30 walks (2 intentional) in a USC-best 102.1 innings. His 23 career wins rank No. 15 on USC's all-time list and his 228 strikeouts are No. 14 on the Trojan career ladder. He was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week 4 times in 1997 and 8 times in his career. He had one of USC's top performances 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 to earn Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors. He equalled his career best in strikeouts at Hawaii with 12. He received his first career conference loss at UCLA. He earned back-to-back Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors: he went 8 innings at Arizona and limited the Wildcats to one unearned run on just 4 hits and a walk while striking out 11 to post a 10-1 victory and, one week later, went 8 innings versus UCLA and held the Bruins to one earned run on 7 hits and 2 walks while striking out 8 in an 11-2 victory. He was then named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week in his final regular season appearance: he went 7 innings and limited Cal State Northridge to one unearned run on 6 hits and 2 walks while striking out 3.
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 3/8 California ND 6.0 8 5 5 2 4 W, 8-6 3/15 Arizona ND 7.0 5 4 4 2 4 L, 6-5 3/23 at UCLA L 6.1 9 7 6 2 4 L, 8-5 3/28 at Arizona St W 5.1 8 4 3 5 8 W, 15-4 4/5 Stanford L 6.1 9 4 4 3 6 L, 4-2 4/12 at California W 6.2 8 2 2 2 5 W, 5-2 4/19 at Arizona W 8.0 4 1 0 1 11 W, 10-1 4/26 UCLA W 8.0 7 2 1 2 8 W, 11-2 5/11 CS Northridge W 7.0 6 1 0 2 3 W, 8-2 CAREER HIGHS: IP: 9 (6 times); K: 12 (2 times)
JACK KRAWCZYK -- The Pac-10's top relief pitcher in 1996 and 1997, junior righthander Jack Krawczyk tied USC's record for career saves (with Brian Nichols) when he captured his 26th at UCLA. His Pac-10 leading 11 saves in 1997 rank No. 5 on USC's single-season list. He also led the league with 12 in 1996. (No. 4 on USC's single-season list). He earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention notice in both 1996 and 1997. Krawczyk has appeared in 30 games in 1997 and is 2-2 with a 3.48 ERA. He has just 3 walks and 24 strikeouts in 33.2 innings. Opponents are hitting .208 against him. He picked up victories over UCLA and Cal State Northridge and got losses against Arizona and Cal State Northridge.
SCOTT HENDERSON -- A talented righthander, senior Scott Henderson--a 1996 All-Pac-10 honorable mention pick--served as Troy's No. 3 starter last year and continues in that same spot this year (although he has been hampered 4 different weekends due to illness). Henderson, who was 8-1 with a 3.19 ERA in 1996, is currently 8-3 with a 6.16 ERA, and he has 13 starts in 17 appearances. He has walked only 18 batters and struck out 37 in 64.1 innings. He struck out a career-high 9 batters twice in 1996 and his longest outing is 8.7 innings against Stanford in 1996. His 21 wins tie for No. 20 on the Trojan career win ladder.
HENDERSON AS A STARTER 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 3/11 at Pepperdine L 5.1 5 4 2 2 5 L, 4-2 3/16 Arizona W 7.1 5 2 2 2 5 W, 6-2 3/24 UCLA ND 5.2 7 4 1 4 4 W, 8-7 3/29 at Arizona State ND 2.2 6 4 4 0 0 W, 11-7 4/8 at CS Fullerton ND 4.1 8 3 3 0 2 W, 8-5 4/13 at California L 2.0 3 3 3 2 1 L, 7-5 4/29 at UCSB W 5.0 7 3 3 1 4 W, 23-5 CAREER HIGHS: IP: 8.7 (Stanford, 4/14/96); K: 9 (2 times)
STEVE IMMEL -- A sophomore righthander, Steve Immel was moved into Troy's starting rotation against California (after illness hampered Scott Henderson), dropped out of the rotation after coming down with strep throat, and returned to start the final Stanford game. He is currently 6-4 with a 4.82 ERA, and has made 7 starts in 22 appearances. He has 42 strikeouts and 14 walks in 56 innings. He posted a career-high 9 strikeouts in his first start against UC Santa Barbara this year. His longest career outing is 7.2 innings against California.
TROJAN POSITION PLAYERS
JASON BROWN -- Senior "jack-of-all-trades" Jason Brown (he has seen time as a catcher, first baseman, designated hitter and outfielder) is back in action after missing 19 games following arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He has rebounded in a big way, hitting .382 (tops among regulars) with a second-best 10 home runs and 42 RBI. He has hit safely in 25 of 36 games this year, and had a 9-game hitting streak (18-for-35, .514). Of his 10 home runs, 3 are grand slams (which were hit in a span of 6 games/10 days). He was 3-for-5 with 2 home runs and 5 RBI at UC Santa Barbara. He was 4-for-4 with a grand slam, double and 4 RBI in the UCLA opener. He had a grand slam and 6 RBI against Arizona State. He was 3-for-4 with a double, grand slam and 7 RBI at San Diego State. He reached base in 9 straight plate appearances (getting 7 hits and 2 walks) at one point.
MORGAN ENSBERG -- Junior third baseman Morgan Ensberg, a 1996 All-Pac-10 honorable mention pick, has started every game at third base this year. He is currently hitting .307 with 7 home runs, 40 RBI and 14 stolen bases (in 16 tries). He has a team-leading and Pac-10-second-best 45 walks (his streak of walks in 8 straight games for a total of 13 was snapped at San Diego State). He has hit safely in 37 games this year, including 19 multiple-hit games. He has had 2 6-game hitting streaks. His dramatic 2-run home run in the ninth-inning gave USC an 8-7 come-from-behind victory over Cal State Northridge. He has USC's top performance this year, going 6-for-7 with a double, home run and 2 RBI at UC Santa Barbara and, with a 4-for-5 outing at Cal State Northridge, he was 10-for-12 in 2 consecutive games...He has struck out 55 times this year to set a new USC single-season record.
JEREMY FREITAS -- A junior transfer from Fresno (Calif.) City College, Jeremy Freitas has seen action as an outfielder and designated hitter for USC in 1997. He is hitting .275 with 6 home runs and 32 RBI. He had an 8-game hitting streak (13-for-28, .464) and has hit safely in 10 of the last 12 games to raise his average from .228 to .275. He was 4-for-6 with a double, home run and 5 RBI at Cal State Northridge. He was 4-for-5 with 2 doubles, a triple and 4 RBI at Hawaii Hilo. He got 2 hits (a double and home run) and 5 RBI against Stanford.
ROBB GORR -- A versatile athlete, sophomore Robb Gorr is USC's starting centerfielder but he has also seen time at second base and first base while filling in for injured players. He has started every game this year and is hitting .333 with a team-leading 47 RBI. He also leads the team with 58 runs scored. He has hit safely in 41 games, including 25 multiple-hit games. He was 5-for-6 with 2 doubles and 3 RBI at Hawaii Hilo. He had 3 hits and 5 RBI at UC Santa Barbara.
GREG HANOIAN -- With his torrid hitting in 1997, sophomore Greg Hanoian had established himself as one of Troy's starting outfielders until suffering a shoulder injury at Arizona State (which has sidelined him for the last 21 games). He is hitting an impressive .429, and has hit safely in 26 games, including 16 multiple-hit games. He was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week (Mar. 11) after going 7-for-11 (.636) in Troy's 3-game sweep of California. 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 went on to hit safely in 8 straight plate appearances). He had multiple hits and at least one RBI in 6 straight games.
MARC MIRIZZI -- An exciting defensive player, senior shortstop Marc Mirizzi has also excelled at the plate this year and was named to the 1997 All-Pac-10 first team. The switch-hitter is batting .328 with 20 doubles and 35 RBI, and he has started every game this year. He leads the Trojans in hits (83) and at-bats (253). He was USC's leading hitter in Pac-10 games with a .349 average. He has hit safely in 45 games this year with 26 multiple-hit games (including 3 4-hit games and 6 3-hit games). He was 4-for-5 with a double and 4 RBI in USC's season opener versus Cal State L.A., he went 4-for-5 with 3 RBI against UC Santa Barbara and he was 4-for-8 with a home run and 2 RBI at UC Santa Barbara. His 37 career doubles tie for No. 15 on the Trojan all-time list.
ERIC MUNSON -- Catcher Eric Munson is proving worthy of his pre-season accolades as one of the nation's top freshmen. He was named to the 1997 All-Pac-10 first team. He has started every game this year and is hitting .347 with 11 doubles and a team-leading 47 RBI. He leads the team with 12 home runs. He has hit safely in 43 games this year, including 22 multiple-hit games. He had an 8-game hitting streak (13-for-35, .371) and 3 6-game streaks earlier this year. He hit 2 home runs in USC's 4-3 win over Long Beach State. He was 6-for-13 (.462) with 4 RBI in the most recent Arizona State series. He was 4-for-7 with a double, home run and 4 RBI at San Diego State. He has hit safely in 9 of the last 10 games, 15 of the last 17 and 19 of the last 22. Behind the plate, he has thrown out 20 of 49 baserunners (.408).
BRIAN PONCHAK -- A righthanded relief pitcher and pinch-hitter in his first 3 seasons at USC, senior Brian Ponchak has been used mainly as a designated hitter in 1997 (he has just 3 relief appearances this year). He is currently hitting .287 with 9 doubles, 6 home runs and 30 RBI. He has been hit by a pitch a team-leading 9 times. He had an 8-game hitting streak (12-for-30, .400) before going 0-for-3 in the Stanford finale (his batting average was a season-low .125 before the streak). He was 4-for-5 with a home run and 3 RBI at UC Santa Barbara. He had a double, home run and 5 RBI against Mississippi. He was 4-for-6 with a double, home run and 2 RBI at Cal State Northridge.
WES RACHELS -- Junior second baseman Wes Rachels, who was named to the 1995 All-College World Series team as just a freshman, hit safely in the first 14 games he played this year (21-for-54, .389). Currently hitting .355, he has reached base safely in every game but 2 and has hit in all but 8 (with 22 multiple-hit games). He hit a leadoff home run in the first inning of USC's season opener against Cal State Los Angeles for his only home run at Dedeaux Field (he hit his first ever at the 1995 College World Series). Troy's leadoff hitter, Rachels has reached base (by hit or walk) in the first at-bat of the game in 26 of 48 plate appearances. He has also walked 36 times and has a team-leading 15 stolen bases. He currently has a 10-game hitting streak (22-for-51, .431) and has hit safely in 13 of the last 14 (with 9 multiple-hit games in that span). He reached base safely in his first 7 plate appearances of 1997 (spanning 2 games), getting 2 hits and 5 walks. He had 2 doubles and 5 RBI in the Arizona State opener at Tempe. He had a season-best 4 hits at Cal State Northridge. He has struck out only 6 times in the last 84 plate appearances. He missed 8 games following the death of his father (Dr. Arthur Rachels) on Feb. 15.
BRAD TICEHURST -- A sophomore outfielder, Brad Ticehurst served as a reserve rightfielder until moving into the starting lineup following the injury to Greg Hanoian. Ticehurst is currently hitting .311 with 9 doubles, 3 home runs and 17 RBI. After beginning the season 5-for-29 (.172), he has gone 32-for-89 (.360) in the last 31 games. He had a 7-game hitting streak (12-for-27, .444) and has hit safely in the last 5 and 12 of the last 13. He was 3-for-5 with 2 doubles at Cal State Northridge.
GREG WALBRIDGE -- Senior Greg Walbridge--was was named to the 1997 All-Pac-10 honorable mention team--is in his third season as Troy's starting first baseman. A fine lefthanded hitter who was an All-Conference first team pick last year, Walbridge is currently hitting .319 with 44 RBI. He has a Pac-10-second-best 24 doubles, good for No. 3 on USC's single-season list (tied with Rich Dauer in 1974). His 49 career doubles rank No. 6 on USC's all-time list. He is No. 11 on 3 other Trojan career lists: hits (218), RBI (136) and runs (143). He has hit safely in 40 games this year, including 20 multiple-hit games. He had 4 hits in a game 5 times this year. He had a 9-game hitting streak (16-for-36, .444) snapped against Notre Dame. He was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week (Apr. 1) after going 11-for-27 (.407) with 5 doubles, a home run and a team-best 11 RBI against Arizona State and San Diego State. In the Arizona State series at Dedeaux Field, 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. He was 4-for-6 with 2 doubles and 4 RBI in the second game at Arizona State. He has hit safely in the last 5 games, 8 of the last 9 and 11 of the last 13. He missed 3 games after getting beaned in the head in the second Arizona game (he suffered a perforated eardrum and lost the hearing in his right ear).
1997 Pacific-10 Baseball Standings W L PCT GB Stanford 21 9 .700 -- UCLA 19 11 .633 1 USC 17 13 .567 4 Arizona St. 16 14 .533 5 Arizona 13 17 .433 8 California 4 26 .133 17