Trojans Remain at Home, Host Arizona in Three-Game Set Beginning Thursday
April 16, 2014
The Trojans dropped a close 4-3 contest in the bottom of the ninth inning at Pepperdine on Tuesday afternoon. The team jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning, but the Waves answered with two of their own in the fifth inning. The Trojans plated what looked to be the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning, as Jeremy Martinez came through with the sacrifice fly, but the Trojans gave up two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning and the Waves came away with the walk-off victory.
DO NOT CHASE -- Trojan senior first baseman Jake Hernandez, who leads the team with a .354 batting average, good for seventh in the conference. On the year he is the second-hardest hitter to strikeout, only doing so every 14.1 plate appearances. Last week he batted .462 (6-for-13) at the plate to lead the game. In the Utah series itself he batted .500.
ARIZONA NOTES-- The Wildcats come to USC after taking two of three last weekend at home from UCLA to win the series for the first time in eight years. After falling 8-0 on Friday, the Wildcats bounced back to win 3-2 on Saturday and then got a 6-5 victory in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the ninth on Sunday. Overall the team is led by Scott Kingery at the plate who is batting .390. Zach Gibbons, Trent Gilbert and Kevin Newman all boast averages above .300. As a team they lead the conference with a .299 batting average. On the mound then have a team ERA of 4.93 and are led by starters James Farris and Cody Hamlin as starters for the Wildcats.
The Trojans ended the 2013 season being swept at Arizona, 4-3 in 10 innings, 18-4 and 7-1 in the season finale. The Trojans lead the all-time series vs. the Wildcats 116-101-1. The last time the two teams met at Dedeaux Field was in 2012, where the Trojans dropped the opener and the rubber match, by scores of 11-1 and 6-1. They won Saturday's game 8-4. The Trojans are 3-9 in the last 12 games against the Wildcats and in the last three series played at Dedeaux Field, the Trojans are 5-4. The last series the Trojans won against the Wildcats came in 2010 at Dedeaux Field when they took 2-of-3. The Trojans have not won a game in Tucson since 2009.
IN THE RANKINGS -- The Trojans rank eighth in the nation with 38 double-plays turned. The Trojans are seventh in the conference with a .270 team batting average. Their team ERA overall of 3.77 ranks seventh as well in the Pac-12.
PAC-12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK -- USC senior third baseman Kevin Swick was 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 Martinez was 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 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.
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 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 Canada, 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.