Trojans Ready for First Pac-12 Homestand as Washington Comes to Dedeaux Field
March 27, 2014
Upcoming Games Schedule
Sunday, March 30
LOS ANGELES - The Trojans return to Dedeaux Field after four-straight road contests on Friday to host Washington in their Pac-12 home opener. The Trojans were 3-1 on that road stretch and have won two straight coming into this weekend.
Sunday's game date, March 30, is the 40th anniversary of the first game at Dedeaux Field. The first day of play at Dedeaux Field was March 30, 1974. Right-hander Russ McQueen threw a no-hitter that afternoon in the first game ever played at Dedeaux Field as USC swept a doubleheader from California. The Trojans went on to win their fifth-straight NCAA title in 1974. Russ McQueen will be on hand to throw out the first pitch in commemoration of the 40-year anniversary of the opening of the field on Sunday.
The Trojans earned their first midweek road victory on Tuesday at Loyola Marymount. Behind a solid start from Brent Wheatley, the Trojans put together a two-out rally scoring three in the third inning and never looked back. Lefty reliever Sean Adler threw 1.2 innings in the victory, while James Guillen tallied his first save of the year going two scoreless to hold off the recently surging Lions. Kevin Swick, AJ Ramirez and Jeremy Martinezeach drove in runs in the win.
The Trojans won 4-3 on Friday as they got the to Cardinal bullpen late. On Sunday in the rubber match, the Trojans did the same, getting to the bullpen in a 10-inning 6-3 victory. Freshman Jeremy Martinez was Sunday's hero, coming through with a sacrifice fly to pull the Trojans within one in the eighth inning. Then in the 10th inning, Martinez connected on a double down the third base line to plate the eventual game-winning run. Sophomore Blake Laceyalso had a big weekend at the plate, hitting .455 (5-for-11) over the three-game stretch.
Last Tuesday the Trojans took an early 1-0 lead on Tuesday but were unable to sustain it, falling 4-3 due to untimely walks and hit by pitches from the Trojan staff. Sophomore centerfielder Timmy Robinsonled the team with a 2-for-5 day at the plate, driving in all three of the team's runs. He was at the plate in the bottom of the ninth with runners on first and second two down, but he was unable to deliver the fourth run. Last weekend the Trojans went 2-2, as they went 1-2 in their first conference series at Oregon.
WASHINGTON NOTES-- The Huskies come into Dedeaux Field having won 14 of their last 15 games. The team is tied for first in the Pac-12 with a 5-1 record in conference play. The Huskies lead the Pac-12 with 11 home runs through 23 contests and are particularly tough in the fifth inning, where they have scored 24 runs and only allowed their opponents three runs. USC leads the all-time series with the Huskies 35-28, but the Huskies have won 7 to the Trojans 5 under current head coach Lindsey Meggs. The Huskies are 5-1 against the Trojans over the last two seasons, taking two of three last year in Seattle and earning the sweep the last time they were in Los Angeles in 2012. The Huskies are 11-4 at Dedeaux Field over the last fove series in LA, coming away as series victors in four of those five years.
IN THE RANKINGS -- Sophomore slugger Vahn Bozoian ranks second in the Pac-12 with three home runs. Entering the week the Trojans ranked sixth in the country with 32 sac bunts. Both Timmy Robinson and Dante Floreslead the team with six sacrifices apiece, good for 25th in the country. The Trojans lead the Pac-12 with 27 double plays, good for sixth-best in the nation.
PAC-12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK -- USC senior third baseman Kevin Swickwas named Pac-12 Player of the Week for the week of Feb. 24-March 2 as he went 7-for-12 at the plate over three games. The honor is the first of Swick's career and USC's 56th all-time conference Player of the Week selection. Swick played a big role for the Trojans in their split of a two-game series vs. No. 13 Cal Poly. In the second half of the double header on Sunday, the senior went 3-for-4 with two doubles. He had a hand in six of the Trojans 16 runs; scoring three runs himself while driving in three more. He also drew a walk on the night. In the first half of the double header vs. Cal Poly and on Tuesday at Long Beach State, Swick was 4-for-8 overall, going 2-for-4 in each game. In the Tuesday game, Swick had two of the Trojans five hits in a close 2-1 loss.
RAKING IN THE ACCOLADES -- Junior catcher Garrett Stubbs was named a Preseason All-Pac-12 first team selection by College Sports Madness and was recently named to the Johnny Bench Award Watch List. The junior led the conference in runners caught attempting to steal in 2013. Freshman phenom Jeremy Martinezwas also named Pac-12 Preseason Freshman of the Year by the publication.
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.
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.
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. This Sunday will also be Kids Take Over the Ballpark.
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 Hubbsis 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.
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.
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 Nootbaarwas 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 Laceyrehabs 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 Alvarezenters 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.