No. 2 USC Baseball Hosts Cal State Fullerton
March 31, 1998
THE TEAM - The No. 2 USC baseball team which won the 2,000th game in school history earlier this season is 27-5 overall and 13-2 for first place in the Pacific-10 Conference Southern Division in 1998. The Trojans, who are aiming for their third conference title and second College World Series trip in the past four years, host No. 17 Cal State Fullerton (22-11) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. for a nonconference game, then return to conference play with a three-game set against top-ranked Stanford (25-4-1, 10-2) at Dedeaux Field. Friday's game is at 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday are at 1 p.m. The Trojans have an 11-game overall winning streak and a nine-game league winning streak.
THE RANKINGS - USC is ranked No. 2 by Baseball America and No. 3 by USA Today Baseball Weekly/ESPN, The Sporting News and Collegiate Baseball. In the preseason polls, USC was ranked No. 5 by Baseball America, USA Today Baseball Weekly/ESPN and The Sporting News and No. 6 by Collegiate Baseball. The Trojans were tabbed by the conference coaches to finish third in the Pac-10 Southern Division (Stanford and Arizona State were No. 1 and 2, respectively).
Cal State Fullerton is No. 17 in Collegiate Baseball and The Sporting News, No. 18 in Baseball America and No. 20 in USA Today Baseball Weekly/ESPN.
Stanford is No. 1 in Baseball America and USA Today Baseball Weekly/ESPN and No. 2 in Collegiate Baseball and The Sporting News.
ON THE AIR - Twelve regular-season games and all postseason games will be broadcast on the radio by KPLS-AM (830). Larry Kahn and Justin Dedeaux will handle the play-by-play and color, respectively. Ten of the 12 games will be broadcast live, while the April 3 and May 10 contests will be on tape-delay. Friday's game against Stanford will air at 9 p.m. that night.
QUICK STATS - USC's 27-5 start is its best since 1969 (when it opened 28-4) ... The USC pitching staff has 287 strikeouts in 287 innings ... USC has a 14-0 record in away or neutral-site games ... USC is 17-1 when it commits one error or less and 23-2 when it commits two errors or less ... Four of USC's five losses have come on a Sunday.
RECORD BOOKS - Senior RHP Seth Etherton has been named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week 11 times in his career, more than any other player in Pac-10 history ... Senior RHP Jack Krawczyk has 39 career saves, a Pac-10 record and good for third place on the NCAA Division I all-time list.
LAST THREE GAMES - (3-0 vs. California)
Despite heavy winds and periodic showers, the Trojans slugged three home runs and defeated California, 10-6, on Friday afternoon at Evans Diamond in Berkeley. Senior RHP Seth Etherton improved to 8-0 this season, giving up five earned runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings with 10 strikeouts. Cal scored a run in the bottom of the first inning via two Trojan errors to take a 1-0 lead. The Trojans scored five runs in the top of the third as junior RF Brad Ticehurst led off with a solo home run, freshman SS Seth Davidson had an RBI sacrifice bunt and senior 3B Morgan Ensberg slugged a three-run home run. The Trojans made it 9-1 in the fourth inning as Davidson hit a two-run home run and senior LF Jeremy Freitas hit a two-RBI double. Etherton, meanwhile, had a no-hitter through four innings. He was hit hard in the bottom of the fifth when some of the hardest rain of the day moved in as the Bears scored five runs on six hits, including two homers. But that would be it for Cal, as junior LHP/DH Jason Lane and senior RHP Jack Krawczyk (12th save) finished off the Bears. Ticehurst had three hits for USC.
On Saturday, the Trojans rallied from a 6-3 deficit after seven innings to post a 7-6 win over Cal in 10 innings. In the top of the eighth, Ensberg led off with a double and Freitas hit his ninth home run of the year on a high fly ball to left field. Two outs later, senior CF Jeff DePippo slugged his third home run of the year, also to left field, to tie the game, 6-6. The pitching held for both sides until the top of the 10th. Lane and Ticehurst led off with singles and DePippo loaded the bases when his sacrifice bunt resulted in a throwing error by the Cal third baseman. After the first out, Davidson laid down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt to plate junior Dominic Correa, who was pinch-running for Lane. Krawczyk pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 13th save. Junior RHP Steve Immel (3-0) got the win, pitching 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief. The lead changed hands a couple of times. USC took a 2-0 lead only to see Cal go ahead 3-2 after six innings. The Trojans scored a run in the top of the seventh to make it 3-3, but the Bears added three runs in the bottom of the seventh to go ahead 6-3. Lane was 4-for-5 for the Trojans.
USC swept the three-game series and won its 11th in a row with an 8-1 victory over the Bears on Sunday. Freshman RHP Rik Currier (3-0) made his first career Pac-10 start and went six innings, allowing only three hits and one run while striking out nine to get the win. With the score tied, 1-1, entering the fourth inning, Freitas and Ticehurst led off with singles, then Lane followed with an RBI single. Junior 1B Robb Gorr then hit a deep shot to left field for a three-run home run and a 5-1 lead. Lane had sacrifice flies in the fifth and seventh innings and Ensberg had an RBI double in the seventh inning to account for the other runs. Ensberg and Freitas each had three hits for the Trojans.
CELEBRATE IN '98 - The 1998 season marks the 50th anniversary of USC baseball's first-ever national championship team (1948). Troy also will commemorate three other NCAA championship anniversaries this year: 40th (1958), 30th (1968) and 20th (1978). The 1968 and 1978 teams will be honored on April 18 and the 1948 and 1958 teams will be honored on April 25.
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 five), 36 conference titles and 18 College World Series appearances (second most in the nation). Trojan players have been named All-American first teamers 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, Jeff Cirillo and Bret Boone.
SIX-PAC POWERHOUSE IN THE '90s - No Pac-10 Southern Division team has been more successful in the 1990s than USC. Here's a look at Trojan baseball going into the 1998 season during the current decade compared to other Pac-10 Southern Division opponents:
USC had the best winning percentage (.655); USC was tops (tied with Stanford) for most wins (150); USC is the only school with 40 or more wins six times in this decade, including the last four; USC is the only school to have finished with a Top 10 ranking in six of the past eight years; USC has captured a league-best three conference championships (tied with Stanford); USC has reached the NCAA playoffs a league-leading seven times (tied with Stanford) - and advanced to the regional finals in six of those years (including the last five); And, finally, USC is the only Pac-10 team to reach the College World Series championship game in the 1990s.
COACH'S CORNER - Mike Gillespie, in his 12th season as the Trojans head coach, has a 461-255-2 (.643) career record and has led USC to three conference titles (1991-95-96), nine trips to the NCAA Regionals in 11 years (reaching the Regional finals seven times), and a trip to the 1995 College World Series (where Troy finished as the nation's runner-up). He has been named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year three times (1991-95-96) and was also honored as the 1996 West Region Coach of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association. He served as one of the assistant coaches for the 1997 USA Baseball Team. Gillespie was a leftfielder for the 1961 USC team that won the national championship (his 1960 team finished as the College World Series runner-up).
TOUGH SCHEDULE - USC once again boasts one of the nation's most competitive schedules. Troy plays 36 of 56 games against teams ranked in the preseason polls, including 14 games against teams ranked in the Top 10. In addition, USC's conference the Pac-10 Southern Division is ranked the second-toughest league in the nation by Baseball America.
TERRIFIC 2,000 - USC's 10-2 victory in the series finale against North Carolina on Feb. 15 was the 2,000th victory in school history. Troy currently has a 2,020-958-17 collegiate record.
THE NUMBERS GAME - USC returns 17 lettermen, including six starting position players and one starting pitcher, off the 1997 team that finished 42-20 overall and 17-13 in the Pacific-10 Southern Division for third place. Leading Troy's returners are three 1997 All-Pac-10 first team selections: senior RHP Seth Etherton, a 1998 Collegiate Baseball preseason All-American first team pick who was the 1996 Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year; sophomore C Eric Munson, a 1998 consensus preseason All-American first teamer who was named The Sporting News 1997 Freshman of the Year; and senior 2B Wes Rachels. Also back are senior 3B Morgan Ensberg, senior RHP Jack Krawczyk (the Pac-10's save leader for the past two seasons), a trio of junior OFs (Robb Gorr, Greg Hanoian and Brad Ticehurst) and three junior RHPs (Steve Immel, Craig Jones, Mike Penney).
The Trojans have 12 newcomers to the team, including three junior college transfers. Troy lost seven lettermen from last year, including three-time All-Pac-10 LHP Randy Flores, who is USC's all-time winningest pitcher with 42 career victories, 1997 All-Pac-10 SS Marc Mirizzi, two-year starting RHP Scott Henderson and three-year starting 1B Greg Walbridge.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK - Although USC features an experienced team in 1998, several new faces are contributing in their first seasons at USC. Freshman Seth Davidson, from University High in San Diego (Calif.), junior Dominic Correa, a transfer from Sacramento (Calif.) City College, and sophomore Kevin Schultz, a 1997 reserve, have all seen time at shortstop. Another transfer, junior Jason Lane of Santa Rosa (Calif.) Junior College, sees time as both a designated hitter and lefthanded reliever. Rod Perry, Jr., a freshman who attended Mater Dei High, has been a contributor in the outfield.
And, with the loss of two starting pitchers from last season (career win leader Randy Flores and Scott Henderson), several freshmen have seen action on the mound for the Trojans in 1998: RHP Rik Currier (Capistrano Valley High), RHP Tanner Eriksen (Bullard High in Fresno, Calif.), RHP Shaun Kramer (Diamond Bar High) and LHP Ronald Flores (El Rancho High in Pico Rivera, Calif.), Randy's younger brother.
A LOOK BACK - USC began the 1997 season winning seven of its first eight games (including two of three 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 eight games. Despite a thin lineup, Troy won 10 of the next 12 non-conference games, including a season-best nine-game winning streak.
USC returned to conference action and hit a roadblock as it was swept at Stanford in the three-game series. The Trojans rebounded to win five of their next six league games and nine of 12, despite losing first baseman Greg Walbridge for three games (perforated eardrum) and outfielder Greg Hanoian for the remainder of the season (shoulder surgery). After a late-season slump, USC finished strong, winning eight of its last 10 games to finish 17-13 in league play (third place) and 39-18 overall.
Troy then headed for the South II Regional in Tuscaloosa (Ala.), where Troy reached the final game, losing to host and eventual national champion runner-up Alabama, 9-8, in 10 innings.
CAL STATE FULLERTON - The scheduled pitching matchup is Trojan junior RHP Craig Jones (2-1, 5.14 ERA) against Titan freshman LHP George Carralejo (2-0, 6.23) ... No. 17 Cal State Fullerton, under second-year head coach George Horton, is 22-11 in 1998. The Titans are led by junior DH Greg Jacobs, who is hitting .362 with 24 RBI. As a team, they're hitting .309 and have an ERA of 3.98 ... In the first meeting between the two teams this year, the Trojans won, 3-2, on Feb. 18 in Fullerton. Eric Munson homered and Jason Lane earned the win in relief for the Trojans ... Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series, 26-24-1, but USC has won the last three.
SCOUTING THE CARDINAL - Stanford, under 22nd-year head coach Mark Marquess, has been the top-ranked team in Baseball America in every poll this season. The Cardinal, 25-4-1 overall and 10-2 in the Six-Pac, is coming off a three-game sweep of UCLA. Sophomore 1B John Gall is hitting a team-high .378 with 34 RBI, while junior 3B Josh Hochgesang has 11 home runs and 36 RBI with a .337 average. The Cardinal is hitting .331 and has a team ERA of 3.83.
THE SERIES - The Trojans lead the all-time series, 184-124-3, which began in 1923. The Cardinal swept all six games in 1997, ending a nine-game USC win streak against Stanford.
PITCHING ROTATION - USC's starting pitching rotation for this weekend's series against Stanford is as follows: senior RHP Seth Etherton (8-0, 2.44 ERA) on Friday, junior RHP Mike Penney (5-1, 3.56) on Saturday and freshman RHP Rik Currier (3-0, 3.38) on Sunday. For Stanford, the scheduled rotation is junior RHP Jeff Austin (8-0, 1.75), junior RHP Chad Hutchinson (5-2, 5.36) and junior LHP Brent Hoard (2-1, 5.35).
OVERVIEW - USC currently has a team ERA of 3.54. It's only halfway through the season, but that's exceptional considering the competition and that USC has had a sub-4.00 ERA in only two of the last 17 seasons. On the whole, the pitchers are giving up less than a hit an inning (262 hits in 287 innings) and have as many strikeouts (287) as innings pitched (287).
SETH ETHERTON (#33, RHP, Sr., 6-1, 205, Laguna Niguel) - Senior RHP Seth Etherton, a 1998 Collegiate Baseball preseason All-American first teamer, has established himself as one of college baseball' s finest starting pitchers. Etherton, a 1997 All-Pac-10 first team pick who was the 1996 Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year, returned for his third season as a starter after rejecting a contract offer from the St. Louis Cardinals (he was a ninth-round pick in the 1997 draft). He is 8-0 in nine starts with a 2.44 ERA in 1998. He has 91 strikeouts and only 18 walks and 48 hits in 70 innings and opponents are batting .187 against him.
Seth has moved into USC's career Top 10 list for wins (32, No. 7) and strikeouts (329, No. 2). His 329 career strikeouts are good for No. 5 on the Pac-10 all-time list. He is chasing former Trojan pitcher Brent Strom, who had 363 strikeouts from 1968-70 for both the school and conference record. Prior to his no-decision against Arizona State (March 14), he had won 11 straight starts dating back to 1997. Etherton is already a two-time National Pitcher of the Week in 1998. He earned that honor from both Louisville Slugger and The Sporting News after throwing a three-hit shutout against North Carolina (Feb. 13) and striking out a then-career-high 13 without walking a batter or allowing a runner to reach second base. He received that honor again from The Sporting News after throwing a two-hit shutout against Oregon State (March 6), tying his then-career high again with 13 strikeouts while walking two and only allowing one runner to reach second base.
He was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week after both of those contests, as well as against then-No. 4 Arizona (Feb. 20) when he went eight innings, struck out nine and allowed four hits and one run. He set a new career high for strikeouts with 14 in eight innings in a win against Arizona (March 20). He has been named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week 11 times in his career (three times in 1998), more than any other player in conference history. In the Baseball America early draft preview, he was rated No. 41 among college prospects.
MIKE PENNEY (#45, RHP, Jr., 6-0, 190, Laguna Niguel) - Junior RHP Mike Penney has gone from being a key middle reliever last season to the No. 2 starter this season. He is 5-1 with a 3.56 ERA in 55 2/3 innings. He struck out a career-high six in a win against North Carolina (Feb. 14). He pitched the first nine-inning complete game of his career in a win against Arizona State (March 14) and gave up eight hits, three earned runs and three walks while striking out two. In the Baseball America early draft preview, he was rated No. 72 among college prospects.
RIK CURRIER (#28 or #15, RHP, Fr., 5-10, 175, Dana Point) - True freshman RHP Rik Currier, who has made three solid starts, has established himself in the pitching rotation. He is 3-0 with a 3.38 ERA in nine appearances and has 37 strikeouts in 24 innings. Against Arizona (March 22), he had a career-high eight strikeouts in four innings of relief and got the win. Against California (March 29), he won his first career league start and struck out nine in six innings.
JACK KRAWCZYK (#35, RHP, Sr., 6-5, 195, Scottsdale, AZ) - One of the nation's top relief pitchers and the Pacific-10 Conference' s career save leader (39), senior RHP Jack Krawczyk again heads up Troy's bullpen in 1998. A 1998 Collegiate Baseball preseason All-American second team pick, he had three saves in 1995, 12 in 1996 and 11 in 1997.
This season, Jack is 1-1 with a 0.78 ERA and 13 saves. He had a stretch of six saves in eight games. Krawczyk is No. 3 on the NCAA's Division I career save list (Tom Hickox of Stetson, who is No. 1, had 48 from 1988-91). He picked up his 27th career save (which broke the school record) against Long Beach State (Feb. 1), his 31st (to tie the Pac-10 record held by Washington' s Brett Merrick from 1993-96) against Arizona (Feb. 21) and his 32nd (breaking the Pac-10 record) against UCLA (Feb. 28). His 98 appearances are No. 2 on Troy's career list, just two shy of leader Phil Kendall (100).
JASON LANE (#16 LHP/DH, Jr., 6-2, 205, Sebastopol) - Junior LHP Jason Lane has been an excellent addition, both as a reliever and a starter. Overall, Lane is 3-0 with a 4.28 ERA in 14 appearances (two starts) and 27 1/3 innings. In his first start, he got the win against Arizona State (March 15). Lane was the 1997 Northern California Junior College Player of the Year at Santa Rosa JC last season. Regardless of whether he's pitching, Lane is also the starting designated hitter.
JASON SAENZ (#51, LHP, Jr., 6-2, 195, Santa Ana) - A hard-throwing lefthander, junior Jason Saenz began the season as one of USC' s three regular starters and is now in the bullpen. After going only 19 1/3 innings (with 21 strikeouts) in his first two seasons, he has already eclipsed that mark and is 1-2 in 10 appearances (six starts) with a 3.81 ERA. In 26 innings, he has 25 strikeouts. Saenz struck out a career-high seven in a win against North Carolina (Feb. 15). In the Baseball America early draft preview, he was rated No. 100 among college prospects.
ADDITIONAL PITCHERS - Veteran RHP Steve Immel, a junior, saw a great deal of work as both a starter and a reliever his first two seasons and is continuing to do so again. He is 3-0 with a 2.91 ERA in 11 appearances (two starts) ... Junior RHP Craig Jones is another experienced arm in the bullpen. He is 2-1 with a 5.14 ERA. He had a career-high nine strikeouts in five innings as he started and won against Pepperdine (March 24) ... Senior RHP Mike Weibling is again a standout in long relief, with a 1-0 record and a 3.38 ERA ... Three other true freshmen have seen time: RHP Tanner Eriksen (0-0, 0.00); LHP Ronald Flores (0-0, 8.10), the younger brother of USC' s all-time winningest pitcher, Randy Flores; and RHP Shaun Kramer (0-0, 13.50).
OVERVIEW - USC is hitting .336 as a team (the school record is .335 in 1996) and is averaging 8.3 runs a game. The Trojans have had season highs of 16 runs twice (Long Beach State on Jan. 30 and North Carolina on Feb. 14) and had a season high 21 hits against UC Santa Barbara (March 3). USC has 55 home runs in 32 games, an average of 1.72 a game. The school record is 1.29 in 1978, the last USC team to win the national championship.
ERIC MUNSON (#3, C, So., 6-3, 220, San Diego) - He's just a sophomore but there's little doubt that Eric Munson is the top collegiate catcher in the nation. A consensus 1998 preseason All-American, he's the only catcher selected to the Collegiate Baseball, Baseball America and The Sporting News first teams. And he's the only sophomore named to all three preseason teams. A member of the 1997 USA National Team, he has been invited to the 1998 USA Baseball training camp in June.
Munson, who was named The Sporting News Freshman of the Year last year, was selected to the 1997 All-Pac-10 first team after hitting .336 with a team-leading 13 home runs and 50 RBI as just a freshman. So far in 1998, he's hitting .374 with 11 home runs and 39 RBI, all team bests. In the opener against North Carolina (Feb. 13), he was 5-for-6 with three RBI. He missed the Arizona State series (March 14-15) after a freak accident during batting practice when a foul ball went under the batting cage, bounced up and struck him above the left eye.
He came back with a 3-for-4, two-RBI effort against Loyola Marymount (March 17), then batted .462 (6-for-13) with three home runs at Arizona (March 20-22) to win Pac-10 Player of the Week honors. He has 12 multiple-RBI games this season, including a career-high five RBI in the finale at Arizona (March 22). Baseball America recently listed him as the No. 1 prospect among the nation' s sophomore class.
MORGAN ENSBERG (#14, 3B, Sr., 6-2, 210, Hermosa Beach) - Senior third baseman Morgan Ensberg has been on a tear as of late. Ensberg, who batted .306 last season, is currently hitting a team-high .383 with nine home runs, 34 RBI, 35 runs scored, 11 stolen bases and 11 doubles. He also leads the team in the last three categories (tied in stolen bases with Wes Rachels).
He has a .483 batting average in the Six-Pac, thanks in part to an .800 (8-for-10) average against Arizona State (March 14-15) and a .615 (8-for-13) average against UCLA (Feb. 27-March 1). He hit two home runs and had a career-high six RBI against Arizona State (March 14). He was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for his efforts against the Sun Devils, which included a streak of 10 consecutive times reached base.
ROBB GORR (#10, 1B, Jr., 6-0, 195, Vista) - Last year' s starting centerfielder, junior Robb Gorr has taken over at first base for three-year starter Greg Walbridge. A year ago, he hit .347 with a team-high 52 RBI, and thus far, he' s been one of the standouts again with a .371 batting average and 28 RBI. He had a 10-game hitting streak (20-for-42, .476) at the beginning of the season, has hit safely in 28 of 32 games and has 17 multiple-hit games.
WES RACHELS (#24, 2B, Sr., 5-9, 175, Los Angeles) - A steady and experienced player, senior second baseman Wes Rachels again anchors the Trojan infield in 1998. Rachels, who hit .364 with 41 RBI last year, achieved 1997 All-Pac-10 first team and USC MVP honors. He reached base in all but two of the 53 games he played last year and hit safely in all but eight. He is currently hitting .303 with a team-high (tied) 11 stolen bases and has reached base in 25 of 30 games. At Arizona (March 20-22), he batted .500 (6-for-12) with six stolen bases. With 36 stolen bases in his career, Rachels is No. 10 on the Trojans all-time list.
JEREMY FREITAS (#37, LF, Sr., 6-3, 210, Hanford) - Senior leftfielder Jeremy Freitas has been providing a great deal of punch this season. After transferring from Fresno (Calif.) City College and batting .277 with seven home runs and 35 RBI in 1997, he' s already surpassed last years home run total in 1998 with nine, to go with a .365 average and 30 RBI. When he starts in left field, USC has a record of 26-1. He hit two home runs against Texas (Feb. 7). Freitas has been named to the 1998 All-American Farm Team by Successful Farming magazine, an honor going to student-athletes with a farming background. He was named team captain of the baseball squad, resulting in a $1,000 scholarship donation to the university.
JASON LANE (#16, DH/LHP, Jr., 6-2, 205, Sebastopol) - In the early going, newcomer Jason Lane has shown why he was named the 1997 Northern California Junior College Player of the Year at Santa Rosa J.C. In addition to his contributions as a pitcher, the junior designated hitter is batting .350 with seven home runs, 28 RBI and 31 runs scored. When Lane comes to the plate as the pitcher, he's batting .583 (7-for-12). He went 4-for-5 with an RBI against California (March 28).
BRAD TICEHURST (#8, RF, Jr., 6-1, 200, Los Alamitos) - Junior rightfielder Brad Ticehurst moved into the starting lineup when Greg Hanoian was injured in 1997 and has been there ever since. He' s batting .275 with eight home runs and 21 RBI in 1998. He blasted a two-run home run and made a fantastic leaping grab to steal a potential two-run home run against Arizona State (March 15). In the Baseball America early draft preview, he was rated No. 78 among college prospects.
JEFF DePIPPO (#9, OF/C, Sr., 5-7, 170, Garden Grove) - A versatile player who has been used all around the park, senior Jeff DePippo has seen a lot of action in 1998. He has been used in all three outfield positions, at catcher, designated hitter and as a pinch-hitter. He is batting .298 with three home runs and 12 RBI. He executed a perfect suicide squeeze bunt against UCLA (March 1).
SETH DAVIDSON (#2, SS, Fr., 6-0, 170, San Diego) - A true freshman who has shown equal talent with the glove and bat, shortstop Seth Davidson has started 24 games (appearing in 26) while hitting .350 overall and .390 in Six-Pac play. Five of his 12 RBI came in the first two games against California (March 27-28). He has a current nine-game hitting streak (.417, 15-for-36). He hit his first career home run at Arizona (March 20). His suicide squeeze bunt in the top of the 10th inning gave USC the go-ahead run in a victory against Cal (March 28).
ROD PERRY, Jr. (#6, CF, Fr., 5-10, 185, Irvine) - True freshman Rod Perry, Jr. (.292) has started 10 of the last 15 games after beginning the season as a late-inning defensive replacement in center field. In his first career start against UC Santa Barbara (March 3), he went 4-for-5 with three RBI. He had a two-run triple in the eighth inning that proved to be the game-winning hit at Arizona (March 20), then slugged his first career home run against the Wildcats the next day (March 21). Perry is also a wide receiver on the Trojan football team.
GREG HANOIAN (#25, CF, Jr., 5-9, 175, Huntington Beach) - A shoulder injury ended Greg Hanoian' s 1997 season early and now a similar shoulder injury will cause him to miss more time. The junior centerfielder separated his right shoulder making a diving catch against Arizona State (March 14). He is expected to miss three to four weeks. He was a big part of the Trojan attack before the injury, scoring 18 runs and batting .311 in 19 games in 1998.
ADDITIONAL HITTERS - Sophomore Kevin Schultz has seen time at shortstop and has fared well. Schultz has started six games (appearing in 14) while hitting .250 ... Junior Dominic Correa has seen playing time in the middle infield, the outfield and as a designated hitter and is batting .323 ... Freshman Josh Persell is hitless in six at-bats as a pinch-hitter but has one run scored and one RBI ... Reserve sophomore first baseman Carlos Casillas actually has the top batting average on the team at .500 (2-for-4).