Trojans Travel to Long Beach State for their First Road Test of the Season
Feb. 24, 2014
Upcoming Games Schedule
Tuesday, Feb. 25 USC at Long Beach State - 6 p.m. PT Blair Field
Friday, Feb. 28 Cal Poly at USC - 6 p.m. PT Dedeaux Field
Saturday, March 1 Cal Poly at USC - 6 p.m. PT Dedeaux Field
Sunday, March 2 Cal Poly at USC - 1 p.m. PT Dedeaux Field
LOS ANGELES -- The Trojans head to Long Beach State's Blair Field for their first road contest of the season as they take on the Dirtbags at 6 p.m. PT on Tuesday, Feb. 25.
The Trojan enter the contest 7-0 on the season, having won four of their games in walk-off fashion. On Sunday, the hero was Omar Cotto Lozada, who delivered a two-out three-run home run to right field. The home run was the first of his career and gave the Trojans the 5-3 victory in 12 innings as the Trojans swept the visiting Bison. On Friday, the Trojans won in the bottom of the ninth, as Timmy Robinson delivered the game-winning single. On Saturday, LHP Bob Wheatley threw six innings of shutout ball as the Trojans held the Bison scoreless in a 9-0 victory. Wheatley earned his first win of the season in the game. Dante Flores also launched a two-run home run in the victory, his first of the year.
The Trojans had a strong victory last Tuesday over No. 3 Cal State Fullerton, 6-1. In a true team effort, three Trojan pitchers, Brent Wheatley, Sean Adler and James Guillen held the typically potent Titan offense to just four hits. The Trojans offense combined for six runs on nine hits, behind a 3-for-4 day for sophomore Vahn Bozoian, who also launched his second home run in as many games, this time a solo shot to left field.
LONG BEACH STATE NOTES-- The Dirtbags are 2-5 on the season and are 2-3 at Blair Field so far this season. The team is led by Richard Prigatano at the plate, who is batting .318 with five RBI and seven hits. Ino Patron leads the teams in RBI with six. Overall the team is batting .195 and they have an ERA of 4.13 in the early goings of the season. On Friday they defeated Arizona State 11-0, then on Saturday they followed up with a 4-1 victory. The Dirtbags lost to UC Irvine on Sunday, 7-2. SERIES HISTORY -- The Trojans lead the all-time series against the Dirtbags, 78-45. The Trojans and Dirtbags only met once last season, with the Trojans winning 4-1 at Dedeaux Field. In the last four meetings, the Trojans are 3-1 in the last four meetings at Blair Field. The last time the Trojans played there was in 2012 where they won 4-2.
SEASON OUTLOOK -- This season's tight-knit squad may seem young with 23 freshman and sophomores, but with 15 of those student-athletes gaining significant playing time on the diamond as freshmen in 2013, second-year head coach Dan Hubbs is looking for the Trojans to use that experience to propel the program back to winning ways in 2014. The Trojans return all but 25 innings on the mound from last season, and that experience will be key to the team's success.
This spring expect a lot of familiar faces out on the diamond for the Trojans as they are expected to be a lot stronger because of their experience. In 2013, the Trojans lost 12 games by one or two runs and were in countless other games where the scored was either tied or a one-run game in the seventh that they eventually lost. One reason for this was the Trojans entered the season with only about 120 innings of collegiate experience on the mound. This spring it's a different story, as the Trojans return closer to 600 innings of college pitching experience.
IMPRESSIVE AT THE PLATE --The Trojans will have to replace their top three hitters from a year ago, but senior third baseman infielder Kevin Swick owns the highest returning batting average from 2013 of .305, along with a healthy junior infielder Dante Flores. The Trojans will also rely heavily on five sophomore bats in outfielders Timmy Robinson, Vahn Bozoian and Bobby Stahel, along with infielders AJ Ramirez and Blake Lacey. Lacey leads all returners with 26 RBI from 2013. A healthy Omar Cotto Lozada is also an asset for the Trojans because of the speed on the base paths that he provides.
IN THE PAC-12 -- By a vote of the Pac-12 coaches, the Trojans are picked to finish ninth in the conference. The Trojans were picked to finish higher than Washington and Utah. Oregon State was picked to win the Pac-12, followed by Oregon, UCLA, Arizona State, Arizona, Stanford, California and Washington State.
IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD -- Follow the Trojan baseball all year long on twitter, with the baseball specific twitter handle, USC_Baseball. The Trojans are also on Instagram, with the handle SCTrojans_Baseball.
BALLPARK FUN -- For all Friday games, there will be free hot dogs for all USC students. On Sundays this season, there will be an autograph session available to all fans, starting 15 minutes after the game has been completed. Tuesday games will also be Taco Tuesdays.
TROJANS ON THE NET -- USC baseball games this season will be broadcast live on usctrojans.com with video webcasts for majority of home games. The link is: http://pac-12.com/videos/university-southern-california. For road games you can hear a live radio broadcast on usctrojans.com.
RAKING IN THE ACCOLADES -- Junior catcher Garrett Stubbs was named a Preseason All-Pac-12 first team selection by College Sports Madness. The junior led the conference in runners caught attempting to steal in 2013. Freshman phenom Jeremy Martinez was also named Pac-12 Preseason Freshman of the Year by the publication.
CLASS BY CLASS PROSPECTS -- Sophomore lefty Kyle Twomey was named the No. 16 prospect in the sophomore class by Baseball America. Perfect Game USA selected Twomey as the No. 31 player in the sophomore class. Jeremy Martinez the No. 35 player in the freshman class nationally by Perfect Game USA. In the junior class, Wyatt Strahan was ranked No. 44 in the junior class, Nigel Nootbaar was ranked 86th.
YOUTH MOVEMENT -- The Trojans have 23 freshmen and sophomores on the roster this season. The sophomores, although only in their second year of college ball, logged significant minutes as true freshmen that should pay off for Troy this year. The freshmen standouts include catcher/designated hitter Jeremy Martinez, infielder Frankie Rios and two-way athlete Jeff Paschke. Martinez is slated to start as the team's designated hitter and will see time behind the plate. Rios will be the Trojans starting shortstop as Blake Lacey rehabs his back injury. Paschke is an athletic righty with some pop in his bat, but is also strong off the mound, where he may see playing time first.
TROJANS IN THE MAJORS -- In the history of the USC baseball program, a total of 108 players had made it to the major leagues. Current major leaguers include pitchers Ryan Cook and Tommy Milone (Oakland A's); Brad Boxberger (Tampa Bay Rays); Grant Green (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim); Lucas Duda (New York Mets); Ian Kennedy (San Diego Padres); JP Howell (Los Angeles Dodgers); Nick Buss (Los Angeles Dodgers).
BRINGING HIS SKILLS BACK -- Former USC shortstop Gabe Alvarez enters his fourth 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).
COACHING THE TROOPS--Dan Hubbs has also brought in a very capable assistant coach in 2014, Matt Curtis, who formerly was the head coach at Cal State Northridge. He will run the offense for the Trojans and brings a load of experience, both as a player and a coach. Another newcomer on the coaching front is volunteer assistant Vinny Lopez, who brings coaching experience from the professional ranks.
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 sophomore Carl Aguirre (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif./Palos Verdes HS) and the Wheatley brothers senior Bob Wheatley (Villa Park, Calif./Orange Lutheran HS) and sophomore 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.
MAKING THE GRADES -- Academics is highly important at USC, and senior third baseman Kevin Swick (La Canda, Calif./Loyola HS), who boasts a 3.83 GPA as a business administration major was a third team Academic All-American, along with being an All-Academic Pac-12 selection. Interested in finance, Swick held an internship in Alaska while he played summer ball for the Anchorage Glacier Pilots in 2012 and this past summer he held an internship with Fidelity Investments in Boston.
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).