USC Baseball to Face Three Ranked Opponents This Weekend
March 7, 2013
Upcoming Games Schedule
Friday, March 8
Saturday, March 9
Sunday, March 10
LOS ANGELES -- The Trojans have a tough slate of games ahead this week, as they have contests three ranked squads . The team welcomes in No. 17 Oklahoma and No. 22 Notre Dame to Dedeaux Field on Friday and Saturday, respectively, before heading to No. 12 UCLA on Sunday.
The Trojans enter this week after a tough series at Fresno State and a midweek loss against Cal State Fullerton. After taking the first game on Friday, 9-1, in what was the team's most complete performance to date, and extending their winning streak to four, the team hit a bump in the road, as they dropped the final two games of the series. Bob Wheatley was impressive in his first victory of the season on Friday, going 7.0 innings and not allowing a run. Nigel Nootbaar took the ball on Saturday, in his first start of the season, and finished with 12 strikeouts, the most of any Trojan since 2011. Despite his strong outing, the Bulldogs took advantage of mistakes by Nootbaar and the Trojans to take a 5-1 victory. USC showed fight, however, loading the bases and bringing the tying run to the plate in the top of the ninth. In the rubber match, starter Kyle Twomeyhad trouble finding the strike zone to start the game, and was unable to get out of the top of the first. The Trojans dug themselves into a hole early, falling behind 14-0 and playing catch up throughout.
OKLAHOMA NOTES-- The Trojans are poised to face the Sooners' ace, Dillon Overton. The Sooners are 11-2 as they come to Dedeaux Field. Overton Overton tallied a season-high 10 strikeouts in just six innings of work in last Friday's 10-7 series-opening triumph over then-No. 29-ranked Pepperdine. The left-hander improved to 4-0 on the season and 18-7 for his career. Oklahoma owns a 6-2 series edge over the Trojans. The two teams have never met at Dedeaux Field. OU won the last battle between the two programs, 9-6, in 2004. Oklahoma topped USC, 4-1, in the third round of the 1951 NCAA College World Series en route to capturing its first national title.
NOTRE DAME NOTES -- Notre Dame comes to Troy after winning three of its four games at the USA Baseball-Irish Classic last weekend. Notre Dame opened the weekend with victories over Massachusetts (9-4), Tennessee (3-2, 12 innings) and No. 25 Virginia Tech (3-0), but dropped its finale to Rhode Island (3-4). They boast an 8-2 record. The Irish and Trojans have played six times in program history with the series tied, 3-3. The series dates back to Apr. 3, 1961, when the Irish travelled to Los Angeles and lost 4-3 to the Trojans. The last meetings between Notre Dame and USC occurred in South Bend on May 17-18, 2005. The Irish captured the series opener, 13-6. The then- No. 10 Trojans baseball team went on to a 9-3 win over Notre Dame in the second game of the series.
UCLA NOTES -- The Bruins are 9-2, and have won six-straight games heading into this weekend. The Trojans are scheduled to face Grant Watson on the mound on Sunday. He was the Bruins' midweek starter and is a part of a strong Bruin pitching rotation. Watson has been even better, striking out 14 batters in 19.2 innings and posting a 1.37 ERA. Watson is 2-0 on the season and UCLA has won all three games that he has started. The Trojans hold a 253-126 advantage in the all-time series against UCLA. Since John Savagebecame head coach of the Bruins in the summer of 2004, the Bruins have gone 19-9 against USC and have not lost a season series to the Trojans since 2005. UCLA has also won 19 of its last 24 games against the Trojans, including the last four meetings.
TROJANS ON THE NET -- USC baseball games this season will be broadcast live on usctrojans.com with video webcasts for majority of home games. Live stats will also be available on usctrojans.com.
CHANGES ON TV -- A few changes have been made to the USC baseball TV schedule by the Pac-12 Networks. Sunday's game at UCLA is no longer going to be televised on the network. The audio for the game will be available to listen to.
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. Also, at this week's Wednesday game with Cal State Fullerton, there will be $1 hot dogs.
IN THE TWEETS -- Follow the Trojan baseball all year long on twitter, with the baseball specific twitter handle, USC_Baseball.
IN THE STATS -- The Trojans have climbed to fourth in the conference in batting average (.287), as well as fifth in slugging percentage (.379) and rank third in hits (119). They rank fifth in home runs (4) and tied for fifth in doubles (20). The team also plays selfless baseball, ranking seventh with 10 sac bunts and fourth with five sac flies. The team has held opponents to a .258 batting average and is fourth with 92 strikeouts, and is tied for second in the conference with batters struck out looking (29). In the NCAA stats, James Robertsranks 12th nationally with 4.0 sacrifice bunts in total.
HAVING TO GO YOUNG -- With a young roster to begin with, the Trojans had to go especially young in the Fresno State series because of injuries. On Saturday, the team was without veterans Greg Zebrack, Adam Landecker and Dante Flores, and Coach Hubbs had to go with five freshmen in the lineup. Zebrack was back on Sunday after recovering from the flu, but Landecker (hamstring) and Flores (wrist) were still out recovering. Wyatt Strahan, the Trojans projected Saturday starter was also scratched due to arm soreness.
BIG TIME KNOCKS -- Two Trojans have hit home runs to open up the 2013 season, as junior shortstop James Roberts tagged one on opening day at Cal State Fullerton, to give the Trojans at 2-1 lead at the time. Roberts also tallied a solo shot in a 6-5 extra inning victory at Cal State Northridge on Feb. 23. Likewise, redshirt senior transfer Greg Zebrack tallied his first career home run on Saturday at CSU Bakersfield. His home run went to dead-center and then gave the team a 3-0 lead in the top of the third. Dante Floresconnected on his first bomb of the year at the first of the season at home, a solo shot to right field vs. Long Beach State Feb. 26.
HOME COOKIN'-- The Trojans opened the season 2-0 for the third straight-season. They currently boast a 5-2 record at home. Last year the Trojans started the year off on a tear at home, going 9-0 at Dedeaux Field.
SENIOR CLASS-- Redshirt senior Greg Zebrackwas recently named one of thirty candidates for the Senior CLASS Award. The award recognizes student athletes who excel both on and off the field, and are NCAA Division I seniors with notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. Zebrack holds an undergraduate degree in commerce and communication from UPenn, and is working on his Master's in Business Administration at USC. He had a 3.4 GPA in his undergraduate work, and currently holds the same in his master's courses.
FROM THE PEN -- The Trojans had the opportunity to give two more arms their collegiate debut this weekend in Brooks Kriske and Marc Huberman. RHP Kyle Davis (1-1, 8.22 ERA, 7.2 IP), RHP Matt Munson (1-0, 12.86 ERA, 7.0 IP) and RHP Nigel Nootbaar (1-1, 2.45 ERA, 11.0 IP) lead the way with five appearances overall. LHP Sean Adler(5 appearances, 5.2 IP, 8 SO) has also been impressive this season, averaging two strikeouts per inning of work and is next with four appearances and leads the team with two saves.
YOUTH MOVEMENT -- The Trojans have 16 true freshmen, one redshirt freshman and five sophomores on their roster of 34. Of those, nine are expected to play big, everyday roles for the Trojans, and 16 underclassmen have already seen action in the young season. Those with everyday starting roles include left fielder Timmy Robinson, freshman right fielder Vahn Bozoian, sophomore first baseman Dante Flores and sophomore catcher Garrett Stubbs. On the hill, the Trojans have in the starting rotation sophomore righty Wyatt Strahan, freshman lefty Kyle Twomey and freshman righthander Brent Wheatley. Others out of the pen expected to contribute include freshman righty Kyle Davis, freshman lefty Sean Adler and sophomore righthander Nigel Nootbaar. In the field, freshman outfielder Turner Clousestarted the first two games of the season at center field.
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 Alvarez enters 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).
PUTTING BACK ON THE UNIFORM -- Head coach Dan Hubbs added Randy Floresto the USC baseball coaching staff on Friday, March 1. Flores, a left-handed pitcher, is a former major leaguer with an eight-year career in the big leagues. He was also on the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals team that won the World Series.
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. So far on the season, Wheatley is 1-1 with a 1.47 ERA. He has looked strong through 18.1 innings and three starts, striking out 10 and only allowing three earned runs.
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. So far this season, Strahan has impressed in his new starting role. He has two no-decisions, but leads the team with 11 strikeouts through 11.1 innings. He boasts a 1.59 ERA. Last week he no-hit Cal State Northridge through the first 4.2 innings on the road. 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. He is now 1-1 on the year and tallied a complete game in just his second career start. He has a 5.62 ERA and is second on the team with 11 strikeouts.
FRESHMAN 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).
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 undegrad, 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).
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.
CHANGES --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.