Trojans Host Crosstown Rival No. 8 UCLA in Pac-12 Series This Weekend
May 16, 2013
Saturday, May 16
No. 8 UCLA at USC - 2 p.m. PT
RHP Wyatt Strahan (4-3, 2.49 ERA, 45 Ks) vs. RHP Nick Vander Tuig (9-3, 1.79 ERA, 63 Ks)
Watch Live HERE
Sunday, May 17
LOS ANGELES -- The Trojans enter this weekend against crosstown rival No. 8 UCLA on a two-game winning streak, as they took the final two from Washington State last weekend to take the Pac-12 series. The Trojans have won two of their last three Pac-12 series.
Sunday's game will highlight the USC baseball senior class of 2013, which features Nick Berhel, Adam Landecker, Matt Munson and Greg Zebrack. These Trojans will be playing their final game at Dedeaux Field.
The Trojans completed a feat over the weekend that hasn't happened since 2011. On Saturday, Wyatt Strahan threw the first complete game of his career as the Trojans won, 5-1. On Sunday, Nigel Nootbaar also threw his first complete game, this time a shutout in an 11-0 drubbing of Washington State. The last time Trojans threw back-to-back complete games was on June 1st and 2nd in 2011. On June 1st vs. Florida International, Mark Prior threw a complete game as the Trojans won, 5-1. Rik Currier followed on June 2, as he fired a complete-game 6-0 shutout over Florida International. This feat happened twice that year, as on May 13, Rik Currier threw a complete-game shutout over Washington State, 7-0. The next day, on May 14, Anthony Reyesthrew a complete game against the Cougars in a 5-1 win.
UCLA NOTES-- The Bruins enter the weekend with a 34-15 record and are 17-7 in Pac-12 play, putting them in third place in the conference race. They faced No. 4 Cal State Fullerton in a midweek contest on Tuesday and fell 5-2 at Fullerton's Goodwin Field. As a team the Bruins are batting .254 and are led at the plate by Kevin Kramer, who is batting .290 with 35 RBIs. Pat Valaika is next with 34 RBIs. The strength of the Bruin team is their pitching, which has a collective ERA of 2.77. Leading the way is starter Nick Vander Tuig with a .179 ERA through 90.1 innings pitched. Closer David Berg, who has shut the door on 13 contests this season, a team-low ERA of 0.64 through 56.1 innings of work. Friday starter Adam Plutko leads the team with 65 strikeouts.
Overall the Trojans have a record of 253-125 against the Bruins. The first meeting on the diamond between the two squads came in 1928. The Trojans were swept by the Bruins last year at Jackie Robinson Stadium, and lost the neutral game between the two squads in the Dodgertown Classic. The Trojans have only won five of the last 17 meetings between the programs. 2011 was the last time the Trojans beat the Bruins at home, taking game three of the series by a score of 6-2 to avoid the sweep. Earlier this season, the Trojans lost 6-1 to the Bruins at Jackie Robinson Stadium in the Dodgertown Classic game.
Although Gauntlet Trophy points will be awarded to whomever wins the series, the Bruins have already won the trophy this season.
BALLPARK FUN -- On Sundays this season, there will be an autograph session available to all fans, starting 15 minutes after the game has been completed.
IMPRESSIVE AT THE PLATE --So far this season under guidance of head coach Dan Hubbs and the specialized training of hitting coach Gabe Alvarez, a former Trojan great and major leaguer, the Trojans have an impressive five everyday starters batting over .300 - Those above .300 include freshman infielder Blake Lacey (.303), senior infielder Adam Landecker (.349), redshirt senior outfielder Greg Zebrack (.347), junior infielder Kevin Swick (.336) and junior infielder James Roberts(.326). Of those five student-athletes, only Swick, Landecker and Roberts were regular contributors in 2012. Lacey was an untested coming into the season as freshmen, and Zebrack entered as a redshirt senior transfer from UPenn. The 2002 season was the last time the Trojans ended with at least seven regular contributors batting over .300, and that team won the Pac-10 title and advanced to NCAA Super Regional play. In 2006 and again in 2007, the Trojans finished with six regular contributors batting at least .300.
WINNING A ROAD PAC-12 SERIES -- The Trojans won their first Pac-12 road series at California since May 20-22, 2011 at Oregon State, when they took games two and three of the series in Corvallis. They have since won a second road conference series at Utah. The Trojans have yet to win a Pac-12 series at Dedeaux Field this season, after winning two last year (vs. California and Oregon State). 2011 was the last time the program won two Pac-10/12 series on the road (at Oregon State and at Washington). The Trojans won their first Pac-12 series at home last weekend, as they took two-of-three from Washington State.
TROJANS ON THE NET -- USC baseball games this season will be broadcast live on usctrojans.com with video webcasts for majority of home games.
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.
IN THE STATS -- The Trojans rank 21st in the country with a fielding percentage of 0.976. As of Tuesday in the conference stats, the Trojans rank towards the top of many overall categories, including being ranked fourth in hits (468), third in doubles (85), fifth in team batting average (.283) and seventh in sac flies (18) and sac bunts (43). In the field the Trojans have thrown out 27 would-be base stealers to lead the Pac-12. Individually catcher Garrett Stubbs is second in the conference, having thrown out 18 base stealers. Also Adam Landecker's team-leading batting average of .349 ranks fourth in the conference. His 15 doubles are aslo tied for third in the conference. Greg Zebrack ranks fifth in the conference with a .431 on-base percentage. In conference play, the Trojans are fifth with 247 hits, are third with a .286 batting average and fourth in slugging percentage (.365). They also second in the conference with 11 sacrifice flies. The team ranks tied for second with 40 doubles. Individually, the Trojans rank two-three-four in the batting average category for Pac-12 play. James Roberts is second with a .364 batting average, Adam Landecker ranks third (.356) and Greg Zebrack is fourth (.354). Bobby Stahel leads the way with eight hit-by-pitches in conference play. Garrett Stubbsranks tied for third with nine baserunners caught stolen.
BIG TIME KNOCKS -- Junior infielder James Roberts tagged one on opening day at Cal State Fullerton, to give the Trojans at 2-1 lead at the time. Since then, Roberts leads the team in home runs (4), as he also tallied a solo shot in a 6-5 extra inning victory at Cal State Northridge on Feb. 23. Roberts' then hit a home run against Stanford on April 7, an eventual game-winning solo shot in the top of the eighth as USC won, 7-6. He also tallied a home run at Oregon State on 4/28. Likewise, redshirt senior transfer Greg Zebrack tallied his first career home run on Saturday at CSU Bakersfield. His home run went to dead-center and then gave the team a 3-0 lead in the top of the third. At Pepperdine on April 30, Zebrack had two home runs, marking the first time a Trojan hit two home runs in a game since Ricky Oropesa did in 2010. Dante Flores connected on his first bomb of the year at the first of the season at home, a solo shot to right field vs. Long Beach State Feb. 26. Vahn Bozoian knocked in his first collegiate home run, a solo shot, at UCLA. Blake Lacey hit his first collegiate home run, a two-run shot, at Cal's Evans Diamond in a loss on March 30, 2013. The day prior, March 29, 2013, AJ Ramirez had a solo jack in a victory versus Cal, the first of his college career. At Cal State Fullerton on April 9, Timmy Robinson delivered a solo shot, the first of his career. On Tuesday, April 16 at Loyola Marymount, the Trojans hit back-to-back home runs for the first time since 2010, when Jake Hernandez blasted his first, a solo shot, followed by another solo bomb from freshman Vahn Bozoian. Kevin Swick and Adam Landeckerboth hit their first home runs of the season, solo shots in a loss at Oregon State (4/26). Then Swick followed with a solo shot in the ninth at Pepperdine (4/30), while Landecker had a two-run shot in the same game.
SENIOR CLASS-- Redshirt senior Greg Zebrackwas recently named one of thirty candidates for the Senior CLASS Award. The award recognizes student athletes who excel both on and off the field, and are NCAA Division I seniors with notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. Zebrack holds an undergraduate degree in commerce and communication from UPenn, and is working on his Master's in Business Administration at USC. He had a 3.4 GPA in his undergraduate work, and currently holds the same in his master's courses.
YOUTH MOVEMENT -- The Trojans have 16 true freshmen, one redshirt freshman and five sophomores on their roster of 34. Of those, nine are expected to play big, everyday roles for the Trojans, and 16 underclassmen have already seen action in the young season. Those with everyday starting roles include left fielder Timmy Robinson, freshman right fielder Vahn Bozoian, sophomore first baseman Dante Flores and sophomore catcher Garrett Stubbs. On the hill, the Trojans have in the starting rotation sophomore righty Wyatt Strahan, freshman lefty Kyle Twomey and freshman righthander Brent Wheatley. Others out of the pen expected to contribute include freshman righty Kyle Davis, freshman lefty Sean Adler and sophomore righthander Nigel Nootbaar. In the field, freshman outfielder Turner Clousestarted the first two games of the season at center field.
TROJANS PICKED EIGHTH IN PAC-12 -- USC was picked to finish tied for eighth along with Washington State by a vote of the Pac-12 coaches in the preseason poll. The Trojans were picked to finish higher than Washington and Utah. Stanford was picked to win the Pac-12, followed by UCLA, Oregon State, Oregon, Arizona, Arizona State and California.
TROJANS IN THE MAJORS -- In the history of the USC baseball program, a total of 106 players had made it to the major leagues. Current major leaguers include pitchers Ryan Cook and Tommy Milone (Oakland A's); Brad Boxberger (San Diego Padres); Barry Zito (San Francisco Giants); Lucas Duda (New York Mets); Ian Kennedy(Arizona Diamondbacks).
NO EASY WAY OUT -- According to Boyd's World, USC began the 2012 season with the No. 1 toughest schedule in the nation and face 10 teams that are ranked in the top-25 preseason polls, while a total of 27 of 56 games coming against these ranked opponents.
BRINGING HIS SKILLS BACK -- Former USC shortstop Gabe Alvarezenters his third 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).
PUTTING BACK ON THE UNIFORM -- Head coach Dan Hubbs added Randy Floresto the USC baseball coaching staff on Friday, March 1. Flores, a left-handed pitcher, is a former major leaguer with an eight-year career in the big leagues. He was also on the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals team that won the World Series. Flores was an All-American during his time at USC and his experience will be an invaluable addition to the team.
ALL IN THE FAMILY -- The name may sound familiar, as the grandson of the namesake for the Trojans' ballpark, Adam Dedeaux joined the Trojan coaching staff this fall as a volunteer assistant coach. Dedeaux is the grandson of the legendary former USC baseball coach Rod Dedeaux, was a Trojan baseball letterman from 2006-2010 and played professionally in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization for two seasons. Dedeaux played two seasons in the Los Angeles Dodgers minor league system from 2010-11. He competed for the AZL Dodgers in rookie ball in 2010 and 2011, before heading to the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes of the Pacific Coast League. Overall he finished his time in the Dodgers organization with 26 appearances and 36 strikeouts in 38.1 total innings.
BLOCKING THE PLATE -- The Trojans boast two very qualified catchers behind the dish in junior Jake Hernandez (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Los Osos HS) and sophomore Garrett Stubbs(Del Mar, Calif./Torrey Pines HS). The two will be splitting time behind the dish, with Hernandez boasting a plus bat and will step in to DH as well. Last season Hernandez hit .286 and drove in 15 runs. He played for the Orleans Firebirds in the Cape Cod League last summer, earning an All-Star nod and winning the Manny Robello 10th Player Award, given to the player who performs above and beyond expectations. Stubbs has been swinging the bat well from the left side as of late. After playing in the Alaska League last summer, Stubbs was named the 23rd best prospect in the highly competitive league by Perfect Game USA.
MAKING THE RETURN -- Redshirt senior outfielder Greg Zebrack(Northridge, Calif./Campbell Hall/UPenn) returns to USC after playing for the Trojans as a true freshman in 2008-09. As a true freshman he appeared in 21 games, making five starts. He then transferred to UPenn, and after sitting out the 2009-10 season due to transfer rules, Zebrack appeared in 78 games, earning All-Ivy League and All-Big Five honors as a redshirt sophomore in 2010-11 and a redshirt junior in 2011-12. During his time as a Quaker, Zebrack led the team in many offensive categories. Last season he batted .343 and led the team in on-base percentage (.448), slugging percentage (.657), RBI (28), runs (34), stolen bases (10), doubles (18) and home runs (7).
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 freshman Carl Aguirre (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif./Palos Verdes HS) and the Wheatley brothers junior Bob Wheatley (Villa Park, Calif./Orange Lutheran HS) and 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.
SUMMER FUN -- The Trojans spread across the country to play summer baseball, and brought home many accolades to Troy. Competing in the Alaska League for the Peninsula Oilers was sophomore pitcher Nigel Nootbaar (El Segundo, Calif./El Segundo HS). He appeared in 13 games, compiling a 3-3 record with a 3.41 ERA in 31.2 innings pitched. He tallied 35 strikeouts, good for second on the team. Touted as potentially the most athletic player in the league, the switch-hitting Nootbaar also played 17 games at third base, collecting 10 hits and driving in two runs. Both Baseball America and Perfect Game ranked Nootbaar was the third-best prospect in the Alaska League, and he also competed in the Alaska League All-Star Team. Junior catcher Jake Hernandez (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Los Osos HS) made his mark in the Cape Cod League, suiting up for the Orleans Firebirds. Hernandez was named a Cape League All-Star, starting for the East squad and earned the league's Manny Robello 10th Player Award, given to the player who performs above and beyond expectations. Named after long-time volunteer Manny Robello, who served as the director of both the Cape League and the Cotuit Athletic Association, the award recognizes a player in the league who shows the highest level of continuous leadership and dedication throughout the length of the season. Hernandez played in 33 games, hitting .239 and driving in 19 runs, while showing some pop with five home runs and five doubles. He was joined by James Roberts (Cupertino, Calif./Archbishop Mitty), who suited up for the Cotuit Kettleers and batted .306 with 25 RBIs , and Dante Flores(Norwalk, Calif./St. John Bosco HS) of the Chatham Anglers, where he appeared in 20 games and drove in three runs.
MAKING THE GRADES -- Academics is highly important at USC, and five Trojans last season earned All-Academic Pac-12 honors. The only returner of the five is junior third baseman Kevin Swick (La Canda, Calif./Loyola HS), who boasts a 3.77 GPA as a business administration major. Interested in finance, Swick held an internship in Alaska while he played summer ball for the Anchorage Glacier Pilots. The other four Trojans all graduated and earned their degrees last season. Redshirt senior transfer Greg Zebrack(Northridge, Calif./Campbell Hall/UPenn) comes back to Troy with a B.A. in communication and commerce, and is currently a graduate student working on his MBA at USC. While at UPenn he earned All-Academic Big Five and Ivy League honors. He had a 3.4 GPA as a undegrad, and also earned that in his MBA program so far.
DEDEAUX FIELD DEDICATIONS -- Prior to the start of the 2011 season, the scoreboard at Dedeaux Field was renamed the Mike Gillespie Scoreboard in honor of former USC player and head coach Mike Gillespie (now the head coach at UC Irvine). Gillespie, who was a player on USC's 1961 national championship, spent 20 seasons as USC's head coach (1987-2006). He led USC as head coach to the 1998 national championship, as well as four trips to the College World Series during his tenure. The batting cages were renamed for the Boone Family, in honor of the Boone family that included former USC players Aaron and Bret Boone. The Boone family became the first family in baseball history to send three generations to the major league All-Star Game (grandfather, Ray, and father, Bob). Bret Boone played at USC from 1988-90 while his brother Aaron played at USC from 1992-94. Both played in the 2003 All-Star Game as a total of five former Trojans (Geoff Jenkins, Barry Zito and Mark Prior) participated in the game.
OPERATION: OMAHA -- From 1948 to 1978, USC dominated the world of college baseball with 11 national championships in 17 appearances at the College World Series (the 1948 CWS was held in Kalamazoo, Mich., with the CWS moving to Omaha, Neb., in 1949). After the 1978 season, the Trojans went through a drought and did not return to Omaha until 1995, when Troy reached the national championship game. Since 1995, the Trojans have made four trips to Omaha (1995-1998-2000-2001), winning their 12th CWS title in 1998. USC has the second-most wins (74) at the CWS and is tied for third for most appearances (21).
THE "OTHER" HALLS OF FAME -- Former USC pitcher Tom Seaver was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992 with a 98.8% vote, which remains the highest percentage ever for an inducted member. In the summer of 2006, legendary coach Rod Dedeaux (who passed away on January 5, 2006) was a member of the inaugural class for the College Baseball Hall of Fame in Lubbock, Texas. Another USC addition was made in 2007 when former outfielder Fred Lynn is inducted. He appeared on three consecutive USC national championship squads (1971, 1972 and 1973) and had a career .320 average with 28 home runs and 111 RBI. He also earned 1971 All-College World Series honors for the Trojans.
TROJAN BASEBALL HALL OF FAME -- On Feb. 1, 2003, the USC Baseball Hall of Fame opened to the public for the first time. The Hall of Fame was the final part of a $4 million Dedeaux Field renovation project that included a new locker room, seating pavilion on the first base side and stadium seating. All 12 national championship trophies are permanently displayed as well as the awards won by former Trojan pitcher Mark Priorduring his 2001 national player of the year season. Prior made a sizable donation to help complete the project. The major league uniforms of former Trojans are also on display.
CHANGES --At the helm for the Trojans will be first-year head coach Dan Hubbs, who was named to the position on Wednesday, Feb. 13, by athletic director Pat Haden after two-year head coach Frank Cruz was terminated for knowingly violating NCAA Countable Athletically-Related Activities limitations within the program. Those CARA rules restrict the number of hours student-athletes can spend in activities directed by or supervised by the coaching staff. In addition, the University has self-imposed a reduction in the number of practice session hours for the USC baseball team this season and next year. USC has alerted the NCAA and Pac-12 of the infraction and the University-imposed actions.