USC Baseball Opens 2013 Season with Two Road Tests and a Tough Home Opener vs. Nebraska
Feb. 14, 2013
Upcoming Games Schedule
Saturday, February 16
Sunday, February 17
LOS ANGELES -- The 2013 USC Trojans are set to open up the season on the road at Cal State Fullerton on Friday, Feb. 15, followed by a trip to CSU Bakersfield on Saturday, Feb. 16, before heading to Dedeaux Field to host Nebraska in the season opener on Sunday, Feb. 17.
At the helm for the Trojans will be first-year head coach Dan Hubbs, who was named to the position on Wednesday, Feb. 13, by athletic director Pat Haden after two-year head coach Frank Cruz was terminated for knowingly violating NCAA Countable Athletically-Related Activities limitations within the program. Those CARA rules restrict the number of hours student-athletes can spend in activities directed by or supervised by the coaching staff. In addition, the University has self-imposed a reduction in the number of practice session hours for the USC baseball team this season and next year. USC has alerted the NCAA and Pac-12 of the infraction and the University-imposed actions.
CAL STATE FULLERTON NOTES -- the 2012 season, including All-American Michael Lorenzen and Big West Freshman of the Year, Matt Chapman. In addition, all-conference first team 2012 selections Richy Pedroza and Carlos Lopez are expected to return to the Titan lineup along with second team selection Anthony Hutting. On the mound, the Titans boast right-hander Grahamm Wiest (5-5, 3.12) returns as well as Big West second team pick Willie Kuhl. Cal State Fullerton returns almost 85 percent of their offense from last year (446 of 523 hits), but enter 2013 with a young pitching staff.
The Titans lead the all-time series agains the Trojans, 45-37-1, and at Goodwin Field, the Trojans are 15-22. The Titans and Trojans split a two-game season series in 2012, with USC taking a 7-4 victory at its home field on March 6, while the Titans evened the series with a 4-2 win at Goodwin Field on May 1.
CAL STATE BAKERSFIELD NOTES -- CSU Bakersfield is entering 2013 season for the first time as an affiliate member of the Western Athletic Conference in baseball. The Roadrunners' first year of baseball was in 2009, and CSUB holds a 97-119 record over the last four years. The Roadrunners return seven starters from the 2012 club which finished the season 25-30. The team is led by senior Jeff McKenzie, who was named CollegeSportsMadness WAC preseason Pitcher of the Year Jan. 28. McKenzie was also chose first team preseason All-Conference by CollegeSportsMadness.
This will be the sixth time that CSUB and USC are playing with the Trojans leading the all-time series 5-0. Last season USC swept a three-game series in Los Angeles before defeating the Roadrunners in a single game in Bakersfield. The first victory for the Trojans came in 2010, where they defeated the Runners 4-3 at Dedeaux Field.
NEBRASKA NOTES -- Head Coach and former Anaheim Angels great Darin Erstad begins his second season in Lincoln in 2013 after leading the Huskers back to the postseason with a conference tournament appearance in 2012 for the first time since the 2008 season. In 2013 the team is picked to finish second in the Big Ten.
At the plate, the Huskers blossomed under the direction of Erstad and Associate Head Coach Will Bolt. The Huskers led the Big Ten Conference in six categories, including home runs (47), RBIs (375), runs (413), total bases (916), on-base pct. (.384) and slugging pct. (.445).
It will be the first meeting between the Huskers and Trojans since 2005 and the first time the teams have met at Dedeaux Field since 1984. Nebraska holds a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series, with both wins coming in Los Angeles in 1979 and 1984.
FOLLOWING THE TROJANS ON THE ROAD -- At Cal State Fullerton on Friday, there will be a live audio broadcast, available both on usctrojans.com, as well as on fullertontitans.com. There will also be live stats available.
On the road at CSU Bakersfield, you can follow the Trojans on usctrojans.com, as well as on GoRunners.com. There will be live stats also available.
TROJANS ON THE NET -- USC baseball games this season will be broadcast live on usctrojans.com with video webcasts for every home game. Live stats will also be available.
ON OPENING DAY -- For the last five seasons, the Trojans have opened the season with a win. In fact, in the last 10 years, USC boasts a 7-3 record to open the season. In those 10 seasons, five times they opened up on the road. In those games, they are 2-3. This is the first time since 1979 that they have opened the road vs. Cal State Fullerton and the first time ever opening a season on the road vs. the Titans.
TROJANS PICKED EIGHTH IN PAC-12 -- USC was picked to finish tied for eighth along with Washington State by a vote of the Pac-12 coaches in the preseason poll. The Trojans were picked to finish higher than Washington and Utah. Stanford was picked to win the Pac-12, followed by UCLA, Oregon State, Oregon, Arizona, Arizona State and California.
TROJANS IN THE MAJORS -- In the history of the USC baseball program, a total of 106 players had made it to the major leagues. Current major leaguers include pitchers Ryan Cook and Tommy Milone (Oakland A's); Brad Boxberger (San Diego Padres); Barry Zito (San Francisco Giants); Lucas Duda (New York Mets); Ian Kennedy(Arizona Diamondbacks).
NO EASY WAY OUT -- According to Boyd's World, USC is beginning the 2012 season with the No. 1 toughest schedule in the nation and face 10 teams that are ranked in the top-25 preseason polls, while a total of 27 of 55 games coming against these ranked opponents.
BRINGING HIS SKILLS BACK -- Former USC shortstop Gabe Alvarezenters his third season as assistant coach for the Trojans. Alvarez played at USC as a shortstop from 1993-95 and had a career .338 batting average for the Trojans with 28 home runs and 163 RBI. In 1994, he was a first team All-America pick by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association after batting .326 with seven home runs and 51 RBI. He was a second-round selection in the 1995 major league baseball draft by the San Diego Padres and played three seasons in the major leagues (1998-2000).
ALL IN THE FAMILY -- The name may sound familiar, as the grandson of the namesake for the Trojans' ballpark, Adam Dedeaux joined the Trojan coaching staff this fall as a volunteer assistant coach. Dedeaux is the grandson of the legendary former USC baseball coach Rod Dedeaux, was a Trojan baseball letterman from 2006-2010 and played professionally in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization for two seasons. Dedeaux played two seasons in the Los Angeles Dodgers minor league system from 2010-11. He competed for the AZL Dodgers in rookie ball in 2010 and 2011, before heading to the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes of the Pacific Coast League. Overall he finished his time in the Dodgers organization with 26 appearances and 36 strikeouts in 38.1 total innings.
BLOCKING THE PLATE -- The Trojans boast two very qualified catchers behind the dish in junior Jake Hernandez (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Los Osos HS) and sophomore Garrett Stubbs(Del Mar, Calif./Torrey Pines HS). The two will be splitting time behind the dish, with Hernandez boasting a plus bat and will step in to DH as well. Last season Hernandez hit .286 and drove in 15 runs. He played for the Orleans Firebirds in the Cape Cod League last summer, earning an All-Star nod and winning the Manny Robello 10th Player Award, given to the player who performs above and beyond expectations. Stubbs has been swinging the bat well from the left side as of late. After playing in the Alaska League last summer, Stubbs was named the 23rd best prospect in the highly competitive league by Perfect Game USA.
TAKING THE BALL-- The Trojans have a young starting pitching core, and heading into opening weekend, the three projected starters have a combined two collegiate starts. All of those starts belong to Friday starter Bob Wheatley(Villa Park, Calif./Orange Lutheran HS), which came in 2012. His first start came on April 12 vs. Pepperdine, where he went 3.0 innings, allowing no hits and striking out three. His second start came vs. Washington on May 6, where he went 5.0 innings, allowing five hits, but no runs, while striking out just one.
Wyatt Strahan(Villa Park, Calif./Villa Park HS), Saturday's projected starter boasted 22 appearances as a freshman last season , second-most on the squad behind the left-handed specialist who had 29. He finished 3-3 with two saves and a 1.37 ERA through 26.1 innings pitched.
Freshman LHP Kyle Twomey(Placentia, Calif./El Dorado HS) enters the season as the Sunday starter after an impressive fall camp with the Trojans. He was selected in the 3rd round of the 2012 Major League Draft by the Oakland A's.
FRESHMEN STEPPING UP -- The Trojans will be looking towards a strong crop of freshman in 2013 to really play key roles this season. The class, featuring Twomey and Timmy Robinson (Huntington Beach, Calif./Ocean View HS), both MLB draft picks out of high school, was ranked No. 19 nationally by Baseball America. Blake Lacey (Fresno, Calif./Clovis West HS) and Reggie Southall (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra HS) are up-and-coming middle infielders for the Trojans, while Vahn Bozoian (Chino Hills, Calif./Ayala HS) and Turner Clouse (Fountain Valley, Calif./Fountain Valley HS) will look to contribute in the outfield. On the mound, the Trojans have junior college transfer LHP Sean Silva (Clovis, Calif./Clovis HS) and true freshman lefties Marc Huberman(Los Angeles/Hamilton HS) and Sean Alder (Chatsworth, Calif./Sierra Canyon).
MAKING THE RETURN -- Redshirt senior outfielder Greg Zebrack(Northridge, Calif./Campbell Hall/UPenn) returns to USC after playing for the Trojans as a true freshman in 2008-09. As a true freshman he appeared in 21 games, making five starts. He then transferred to UPenn, and after sitting out the 2009-10 season due to transfer rules, Zebrack appeared in 78 games, earning All-Ivy League and All-Big Five honors as a redshirt sophomore in 2010-11 and a redshirt junior in 2011-12. During his time as a Quaker, Zebrack led the team in many offensive categories. Last season he batted .343 and led the team in on-base percentage (.448), slugging percentage (.657), RBI (28), runs (34), stolen bases (10), doubles (18) and home runs (7).
MISTER ROBERTS -- Junior shortstop James Roberts(Cupertino/Archbishop Mitty HS) batted .289 (54-for-187) with 24 RBIs while starting all 54 games as a sophomore. In just two seasons at Troy, Roberts has tallied 110 starts.
SETTING THE EXAMPLE -- Senior infielder Adam Landecker(Calabasas/Calabasas HS) provides sure hands for the Trojans in the infield, as he has only made 10 errors over the past two seasons, where he has started in 82 total games. Landecker also leads all returners with a .329 batting average, starting 39 games as a junior before being out the last 16 games with an injury.
BROTHERLY LOVE -- The Trojans boast two sets of brothers on their roster, with the Aguirre brothers, senior J.R. Aguirre (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif./Palos Verdes HS) and freshman Carl Aguirre (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif./Palos Verdes HS) and the Wheatley brothers junior Bob Wheatley (Villa Park, Calif./Orange Lutheran HS) and Brent Wheatley(Villa Park, Calif./Orange Lutheran HS). Both Aguirre brothers favor play in the outfield, although Carl is a versatile utility player, while the Wheatleys prefer the mound. Bob is a lefty, however, while Brent is a righty.
SUMMER FUN -- The Trojans spread across the country to play summer baseball, and brought home many accolades to Troy. Competing in the Alaska League for the Peninsula Oilers was sophomore pitcher Nigel Nootbaar (El Segundo, Calif./El Segundo HS). He appeared in 13 games, compiling a 3-3 record with a 3.41 ERA in 31.2 innings pitched. He tallied 35 strikeouts, good for second on the team. Touted as potentially the most athletic player in the league, the switch-hitting Nootbaar also played 17 games at third base, collecting 10 hits and driving in two runs. Both Baseball America and Perfect Game ranked Nootbaar was the third-best prospect in the Alaska League, and he also competed in the Alaska League All-Star Team.
Junior catcher Jake Hernandez (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Los Osos HS) made his mark in the Cape Cod League, suiting up for the Orleans Firebirds. Hernandez was named a Cape League All-Star, starting for the East squad and earned the league's Manny Robello 10th Player Award, given to the player who performs above and beyond expectations. Named after long-time volunteer Manny Robello, who served as the director of both the Cape League and the Cotuit Athletic Association, the award recognizes a player in the league who shows the highest level of continuous leadership and dedication throughout the length of the season. Hernandez played in 33 games, hitting .239 and driving in 19 runs, while showing some pop with five home runs and five doubles. He was joined by James Roberts (Cupertino, Calif./Archbishop Mitty), who suited up for the Cotuit Kettleers and batted .306 with 25 RBIs , and Dante Flores (Norwalk, Calif./St. John Bosco HS) of the Chatham Anglers, where he appeared in 20 games and drove in three runs.
MAKING THE GRADES -- Academics is highly important at USC, and five Trojans last season earned All-Academic Pac-12 honors. The only returner of the five is junior third baseman Kevin Swick (La Canda, Calif./Loyola HS), who boasts a 3.77 GPA as a business administration major. Interested in finance, Swick held an internship in Alaska while he played summer ball for the Anchorage Glacier Pilots. The other four Trojans all graduated and earned their degrees last season. Redshirt senior transfer Greg Zebrack(Northridge, Calif./Campbell Hall/UPenn) comes back to Troy with a B.A. in communication and commerce, and is currently a graduate student working on his MBA at USC. While at UPenn he earned All-Academic Big Five and Ivy League honors. He had a 3.4 GPA as a undergrad, and also earned that in his MBA program so far.
DEDEAUX FIELD DEDICATIONS -- Prior to the start of the 2011 season, the scoreboard at Dedeaux Field was renamed the Mike Gillespie Scoreboard in honor of former USC player and head coach Mike Gillespie(now the head coach at UC Irvine).
Gillespie, who was a player on USC's 1961 national championship, spent 20 seasons as USC's head coach (1987-2006). He led USC as head coach to the 1998 national championship, as well as four trips to the College World Series during his tenure.
The batting cages were renamed for the Boone Family, in honor of the Boone family that included former USC players Aaron and Bret Boone. The Boone family became the first family in baseball history to send three generations to the major league All-Star Game (grandfather, Ray, and father, Bob). Bret Boone played at USC from 1988-90 while his brother Aaron played at USC from 1992-94. Both played in the 2003 All-Star Game as a total of five former Trojans (Geoff Jenkins, Barry Zito and Mark Prior) participated in the game.
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).
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 Priorduring 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.