Baseball Visits No. 18 Arizona State
April 7, 1998
THE TEAM ~ The No. 3 USC baseball team ~ which won the 2,000th game in school history earlier this season ~ is 29-8 overall and 14-4 for first place in the Pacific-10 Conference Southern Division in 1998 (one-half game ahead of Stanford). The Trojans, who are aiming for their third conference title and second College World Series trip in the past four years, visit No. 18 Arizona State (24-14, 11-6) for a three-game series this weekend (April 9-11). Thursday and Friday,s games are at 7 p.m. and Saturday is at 1 p.m. USC has won nine straight games in the state of Arizona.
THE RANKINGS ~ USC is ranked No. 3 by Baseball America and The Sporting News, No. 4 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 5 by USA Today Baseball Weekly/ESPN. 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). Arizona State is No. 18 in USA Today Baseball Weekly/ESPN, No. 19 in Baseball America and The Sporting News and No. 20 in Collegiate Baseball.
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.
QUICK STATS ~ The USC pitching staff has 333 strikeouts in 332 innings ... USC has 63 home runs and is on pace to break the school record of 85 ... USC has a 14-0 record in away or neutral-site games ... Five of USC,s eight losses have come on a Sunday.
RECORD BOOKS ~ Senior RHP Seth Etherton has been named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week 12 times in his career, more than any other player in Pac-10 history. He has also been named a National Pitcher of the Week three times this season. Etherton should set the Pac-10 career record for strikeouts in the next few weeks ... Senior RHP Jack Krawczyk has 40 career saves, a Pac-10 record and good for third place on the NCAA Division I all-time list.
COACH OF THE CENTURY ~ Collegiate Baseball named former coach Rod Dedeaux, who won 11 NCAA titles at USC and had an overall record of 1,332-571-11, its NCAA Division I ,Coach of the Century0/00 in the April 3 issue.
50 YEARS AGO ~ In 1948, Kentucky won its first NCAA men,s basketball championship, Michigan won its first NCAA ice hockey title and USC won its first NCAA baseball championship.In the last two weeks, the Wildcats won the 1998 basketball title and the Wolverines won the 1998 ice hockey title. In addition, both USC and Kentucky won baseball and basketball crowns, respectively, in 1948, 1958 and 1978. Can history repeat itself for the Trojans in 1998?
SIX-PAC STATS (as of April 5) ~ USC was second in team hitting (.328) and first in team pitching (3.65 ERA) ... Seth Etherton was first in strikeouts (106), second in wins (eight) and third in ERA (2.28) ... Jack Krawczyk was first in saves (14) ... Mike Penney was fifth in ERA (3.92) and tied for sixth in wins (five) ... Eric Munson was fourth in home runs (11) ... Jeremy Freitas was tied for sixth in home runs (10) ... Robb Gorr was sixth in hits (55) and 10th in hitting (.372) ... Morgan Ensberg and Wes Rachels were tied for seventh in stolen bases (12 each).
LAST FOUR GAMES (1-2 vs. Stanford, 1-0 vs. HawaiOEi Hilo) - In a game destined to go down as a classic, No. 1 Stanford edged No. 2 USC, 1-0, on Friday night at Dedeaux Field. In a battle of aces, Stanford junior RHP Jeff Austin (9-0) and USC senior RHP Seth Etherton (8-1) both were outstanding and pitched complete games. Etherton struck out a career-high 15 and gave up four hits and no walks. He threw 93 strikes in 125 pitches. It was Etherton,s first loss since April 5, 1997 (also against Stanford at Dedeaux Field). Austin struck out eight and gave up six hits and one walk in the shutout. Only one bad pitch was thrown, as Stanford junior CF Jody Gerut hit a solo home run with one out in the top of the seventh inning off Etherton for the game,s only run. Senior 2B Wes Rachels and junior 1B Robb Gorr had two hits each for USC. After Saturday,s game was rained out, the two teams played a doubleheader on Sunday. Stanford won the first game, 7-6. The game was tied, 3-3, until the top of the sixth when the Cardinal hit a solo home run to make it 4-3, then scored three runs in the seventh inning to go ahead 7-3. It stayed that way until the bottom of the ninth, when Gorr crushed a two-out, three-run home run to pull the Trojans within one run. The next batter walked, but the final USC hitter flew out. Junior RHP Mike Penney (5-2) took the loss. Rachels had three hits and Gorr and freshman SS Seth Davidson each had two hits. The Trojans ended an eight-game losing streak to the Cardinal in the second game of the doubleheader and the series finale, 7-4. Junior LHP/DH Jason Lane (4-0) hit a solo home run and went 3 2/3 innings in relief to earn the victory and senior RHP Jack Krawczyk pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 14th save of the season and the 40th of his career. Senior LF Jeremy Freitas hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the second to give USC a 2-0 lead. In the third, Gorr hit a two-run home run, his second blast of the day, and junior RF Dominic Correa had a two-run single to make it 6-0. Stanford closed to within 6-3, but Lane hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth. Rachels, Gorr and Freitas all had two hits apiece. On Monday, four players homered in a 12-3 victory over HawaiOEi Hilo at Dedeaux Field. After the Trojans fell behind, 2-0, they came back with seven runs in the bottom of the second. Lane and Gorr each hit two-run home runs, Rachels had a two-RBI single and Davidson had a sacrifice fly. USC scored four more runs in the bottom of the fifth to go up 11-2. Sophomore DH Eric Munson hit a two-run homer, Correa drove in a run on an error and sophomore C Josh Townsend had an RBI single, the first hit of his career. USC,s final run came in the bottom of the eighth as junior C Camilo Gomez slugged a solo home run to left field, also the first hit of his career. The Trojans cleared their bench and used 23 players, including six pitchers. Senior RHP Mike Weibling (2-0) threw two scoreless innings in relief to get the win.
SCOUTING THE SUN DEVILS ~ No. 18 Arizona State, under fourth-year head coach Pat Murphy, is 24-14 overall and 11-6 in the Six-Pac and has won its last four, including a three-game sweep at Arizona. Sophomore 2B Willie Bloomquist leads the Six-Pac with a .413 average. ASU has a team batting average of .299 and a team ERA of 4.63.
THE SERIES ~ USC leads the all-time series, 77-72, which began in 1961. The Trojans have won 15 of the last 18 games, including all three at Packard Stadium in 1997. All-time at Packard Stadium, USC is 35-46.
PITCHING ROTATION ~ USC,s starting pitching rotation for this weekend,s series against Arizona State is as follows: senior RHP Seth Etherton (8-1, 2.28 ERA) on Thursday, junior RHP Mike Penney (5-2, 3.92) on Friday and freshman RHP Rik Currier (3-0, 3.81) on Saturday. For Arizona State, junior LHP Ryan Mills (4-3, 4.52) will start on Thursday and junior LHP Phill Lowery (6-4, 4.21) will start on either Friday or Saturday. The third starter is TBA.
FIRST TIME AROUND ~ The Trojans swept a three-game series at Dedeaux Field on March 14-15. In the first game of a doubleheader on March 14, senior LF Jeremy Freitas doubled home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth for a 7-6 victory. In the second game of the doubleheader, senior 3B Morgan Ensberg hit two home runs, one a grand slam, and junior RHP Mike Penney pitched a complete game in a 13-5 win. In the finale, junior RF Brad Ticehurst hit a two-run homer and took away a two-run homer with a leaping catch in a 6-3 victory.
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:
COACHS CORNER ~ Mike Gillespie, in his 12th season as the Trojans, head coach, has a 463-258-2 (.642) 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 2,022-960-17 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.
SETH ETHERTON (#33, RHP, Sr., 6-1, 205, Laguna Niguel)
MIKE PENNEY (#45, RHP, Jr., 6-0, 190, Laguna Niguel)
RIK CURRIER (#28 or #15, RHP, Fr., 5-10, 175, Dana Point)
JACK KRAWCZYK (#35, RHP, Sr., 6-5, 195, Scottsdale, AZ)
JASON LANE (#16 LHP/DH, Jr., 6-2, 205, Sebastopol)
JASON SAENZ (#51, LHP, Jr., 6-2, 195, Santa Ana)
ERIC MUNSON (#3, C, So., 6-3, 220, San Diego)
MORGAN ENSBERG (#14, 3B, Sr., 6-2, 210, Hermosa Beach)
ROBB GORR (#10, 1B, Jr., 6-0, 195, Vista)
WES RACHELS (#24, 2B, Sr., 5-9, 175, Los Angeles)
JEREMY FREITAS (#37, LF, Sr., 6-3, 210, Hanford)
JASON LANE (#16, DH/LHP, Jr., 6-2, 205, Sebastopol)
BRAD TICEHURST (#8, RF, Jr., 6-1, 200, Los Alamitos)
SETH DAVIDSON (#2, SS, Fr., 6-0, 170, San Diego)
ROD PERRY, Jr. (#6, CF, Fr., 5-10, 185, Irvine)
GREG HANOIAN (#25, CF, Jr., 5-9, 175, Huntington Beach)
JEFF DePIPPO (#9, OF/C, Sr., 5-7, 170, Garden Grove)