No. 7 USC Plays No. 1 Stanford
May 5, 1998
Stanford is ranked a unanimous No. 1 by Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball, USA Today Baseball Weekly/ESPN and The Sporting News.
ON THE AIR
SCOUTING THE CARDINAL
FIRST TIME AROUND
HITTING THE LONG BALL
COACH OF THE CENTURY
50 YEARS AGO
SIX-PAC STATS (as of May 4)
LAST TWO GAMES (1-0 vs. San Diego State, 1-0 vs. UC Santa Barbara)
The Trojans didn't score in double figures for the first time in five games but still won, 9-8, against UC Santa Barbara at Dedeaux Field on Wednesday. Senior RHP Jack Krawczyk earned his nation-leading and school single-season record-tying 18th save of the season. He pitched the final 1 1/3 innings, giving up one hit and getting one strikeout. Trailing 8-7 entering the bottom of the seventh, USC led off the inning with two walks. The Gauchos changed pitchers, and junior LHP/DH Jason Lane (6-1) loaded the bases with a single. Junior RF Brad Ticehurst walked to drive in a run, tying the score. After a fielder's choice retired a runner at home, senior 2B Wes Rachels hit a sacrifice fly to give USC the lead, 9-8. Ticehurst hit his 11th home run of the season in the sixth inning.
USC then took a nine-day break for finals before playing Stanford this weekend.
CELEBRATE IN '98
SIX-PAC POWERHOUSE IN THE '90s
A LOOK BACK
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) 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 10-2 in 13 starts with a 2.69 ERA in 1998. He has 126 strikeouts and only 23 walks and 74 hits in 100 1/3 innings and opponents are batting .199 against him. Seth is the Pac-10's career strikeout leader (364) and has moved into USC's career Top 10 list for wins (34, tied for No. 6). He is one of 12 semifinalists for the Rotary Smith Award, given to the top player in college baseball. Etherton is a four-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 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), striking out 13 while walking two and only allowing one runner to reach second base. The third award, from both Collegiate Baseball and The Sporting News, came against Stanford (April 3), when he had a career-high 15 strikeouts and only four hits and no walks in a 1-0 loss between the top two teams in the country. The fourth honor, from Collegiate Baseball, came against California (April 17) when he had a no-hitter for 7 2/3 innings en route to an eight-inning, one-hit, 11-strikeout performance. He was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week after all four contests, as well as against then-No. 4 Arizona on Feb. 20. He has been named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week 13 times in his career (five times in 1998), more than any other player in conference history. Prior to his no-decision against Arizona State (March 14), he had won 11 straight starts dating back to 1997. Prior to his loss to Stanford (April 3), he had 13 straight wins without a loss. In the Baseball America early draft preview, he was rated No. 41 among college prospects (a figure that has likely since improved). Baseball America also named him the Most Outstanding Player of the senior class in its midseason update.
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 (44), 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. Jack is 2-1 with a 0.54 ERA and a nation-leading and school record-tying 18 saves in 1998. He once had a stretch of six saves in eight games. He went 3 1/3 scoreless innings against UCLA (April 26) and picked up the win in his longest outing of the season. 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 105 appearances are No. 1 on Troy's career list. Baseball America named him to its Midseason All-American senior class.
RIK CURRIER (#28 or #15, RHP, Fr., 5-10, 175, Dana Point) True freshman RHP Rik Currier, who has made eight starts for the Trojans, has established himself in the pitching rotation. He is 4-1 with a 5.49 ERA in 14 appearances and has 55 strikeouts in 41 innings. Against Arizona (March 22), he had 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. The second time against Cal (April 19), he won and went 6 2/3 innings and struck out 10, both career highs.
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 a regular starter this season. He is 6-3 with a 5.31 ERA in 79 2/3 innings. USC is 10-3 in games that Penney starts. 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.
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 6-1 with a 5.89 ERA in 24 appearances (three starts) and 44 1/3 innings. In his first start, he got the win against Arizona State (March 15). He earned a victory in relief against No. 1 Stanford (April 5), giving up one run and three hits in 3 2/3 innings. Lane was the 1997 Northern California Junior College Player of the Year at Santa Rosa JC last season. Regardless of whether hes 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 eclipsed that mark early in the season and is 1-2 in 17 appearances (seven starts) with a 4.42 ERA. In 36 2/3 innings, he has 34 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 4-1 with a 5.80 ERA in 19 appearances (three starts) ... Senior RHP Mike Weibling is again being used in long relief, with a 2-0 record and a 6.20 ERA ... Junior RHP Craig Jones is another experienced arm in the bullpen. He is 2-2 with a 8.90 ERA. He had a career-high nine strikeouts in five innings as he started and won against Pepperdine (March 24) ... Three other true freshmen have seen time: RHP Tanner Eriksen (0-0, 27.00); LHP Ronald Flores (0-0, 4.05), the younger brother of USC's all-time winningest pitcher, Randy Flores; and RHP Shaun Kramer (0-0, 11.37).
MORGAN ENSBERG (#14, 3B, Sr., 6-2, 210, Hermosa Beach) Senior third baseman Morgan Ensberg is having a tremendous season. Ensberg, who batted .306 last season, is currently hitting a team-high .371 with 17 home runs, 56 RBI, 57 runs scored, 15 stolen bases and 17 doubles. He has a .417 batting average in the Six-Pac. He hit .800 (8-for-10) one weekend against Arizona State (March 14-15) and had a streak of 10 consecutive times reached base, for which he was named Pac-10 Player of the Week. He also hit .583 (14-for-24) in six games against UCLA. He hit three home runs and went 4-for-5 with four RBI against San Diego State (April 28). He hit two home runs and had a career-high six RBI against Arizona State (March 14). With 36 home runs in his career, he is No. 3 on USC's all-time list (behind only Mark McGwire and Geoff Jenkins).
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 .360 batting average, 12 home runs and a team-best 59 RBI. He had a 10-game hitting streak (20-for-42, .476) at the beginning of the season and has a current 11-game hitting streak (19-for-54, .352). Gorr has hit safely in 44 of 50 games. He leads the team with 26 multiple-hit and 20 multiple-RBI games. He hit two home runs against San Diego State (April 28). He hit home runs in both ends of a doubleheader against No. 1 Stanford (April 5). He was 4-for-6 with three RBI against UCLA (April 26).
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 .359 with 24 RBI and 15 stolen bases and has reached base in 42 of 47 games. At Arizona (March 20-22), he batted .500 (6-for-12) with six stolen bases. He went 5-for-5 against San Diego State (April 28). He has two home runs, which came in consecutive games against UCLA (April 26) and San Diego State (April 28). With 40 stolen bases in his career, Rachels is No. 8 (tied) 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 quickly surpassed last year's home run total in 1998 and has 12 to go with a .339 average and 50 RBI. 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) 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 .306 with 10 home runs, 36 RBI and 44 runs scored. When Lane comes to the plate as the pitcher, he's batting .476 (10-for-21) with two home runs. He went 4-for-5 with an RBI against California (March 28).
SETH DAVIDSON (#2, SS, Fr., 6-0, 170, San Diego) A true freshman who has been one of USC's big surprises with both the glove and bat, shortstop Seth Davidson is hitting .364 overall and .407 in Six-Pac play. He also has four home runs, 26 RBI and 11 stolen bases. He had a midseason 10-game hitting streak (.390, 16-for-41). Davidson hit his first career home run at Arizona (March 20) and his first grand slam against California (April 18). His suicide squeeze bunt in the top of the 10th inning gave USC the go-ahead run in a victory against Cal (March 28). He feasted on Cal's pitching, hitting .542 (13-for-24) with three home runs and 11 RBI in six games. He has been invited to the 1998 USA Baseball training camp in June.
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 .305 with 11 home runs and 35 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). He pulled out of a slump and in the last 10 games, he's 18-for-34 (.529). 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 is batting .344 with three home runs and 20 RBI. Currently the starting catcher because Eric Munson is injured, DePippo has also been used in all three outfield positions, at designated hitter and as a pinch-hitter. He missed seven games after suffering an off-the-field mishap during the Stanford series that tore cartilage in his rib area, but returned against Cal (April 17).
GREG HANOIAN (#25, CF, Jr., 5-9, 175, Huntington Beach) A shoulder injury ended Greg Hanoian's 1997 season early and a similar shoulder injury caused him to miss 16 games in 1998. The junior centerfielder separated his right shoulder making a diving catch against Arizona State (March 14). He was sidelined recently with a hamstring pull and is still day-to-day. He is batting .330 and has scored 28 runs with 16 RBI in 28 games in 1998.
ROD PERRY, Jr. (#6, CF, Fr., 5-10, 185, Irvine) True freshman Rod Perry, Jr. (.254) has started 16 games while also serving 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.
ERIC MUNSON (#3, C, So., 6-3, 220, San Diego) An injury has put on hold what could have been one of the top offensive performances in USC history. Sophomore catcher Eric Munson has been out with a stress fracture in his right foot. He has missed the last 13 games. His foot will be re-evaluated this week. Though just a sophomore, there's little doubt that Munson, when healthy, is the top collegiate catcher in the nation. A consensus 1998 preseason All-American, he's the only catcher and the only sophomore selected to the Collegiate Baseball, Baseball America and The Sporting News first 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. Prior to his injury in 1998, he was hitting .352 with 12 home runs and 41 RBI. 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 13 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, and as the Most Outstanding Player among sophomores at the midseason point of the season.
ADDITIONAL HITTERS Junior Dominic Correa has seen playing time in the middle infield, the outfield and as a designated hitter and is batting .283 ... Reserve sophomore first baseman and pinch-hitter Carlos Casillas is hitting .357 (5-for-14) ... Sophomore Kevin Schultz has seen time at shortstop and has fared well. Schultz has started seven games (appearing in 21) while hitting .240 ... With the top two catchers out with injuries during one stretch, sophomore Josh Townsend (.273) moved into a starting role for five games. In his first career start, against Hawaii Hilo (April 6), he got his first career hit. He had a base hit in each of his first three starts ... Reserve catcher Camilo Gomez got his first career hit against Hawaii Hilo (April 6). Gomez (.667), a junior, slugged a home run to left field in his first at-bat of the year ... Freshman Josh Persell is hitless in seven at-bats as a pinch-hitter but has two runs scored and one RBI.