No. 22 Trojans Travel to Long Beach State for Midweek Tilt|
March 1, 2016
LOS ANGELES — The No. 22 Trojans travel to Long Beach State for a 6 p.m. PT game on Tuesday after taking two of three from Wake Forest over the weekend.
LONG BEACH STATE NOTES— The Trojans are 79-46 all-time vs. the Dirtbags. The last time the Trojans played at Blair Field was in 2014, where they fell 2-1 (that was their first loss of the 2014 season). Prior to that they defeated the Dirtbags 4-2 in 2012 at Blair Field. The last time the two teams faced off was in 2014, where the Trojans defeated the Dirtbags 4-3. That year the series was split, 1-1. This year’s squad is off to a 5-2 start, going 3-1 last week as they took two of three over the weekend from Arizona State and defeated UCLA on Tuesday, 10-1.
SEASON OUTLOOK -In 2016, the Trojans return five of nine starters and two-thirds of their weekend rotation. The team is led by senior standouts Timmy Robinson, a first-team All-Pac-12 honoree and ace Kyle Davis. The team also returns Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American starting pitcher Mitch Hart, and All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention honorees Jeremy Martinez and AJ Ramirez.
Martinez, the leading hitter set to return in 2016, batted .296 with 45 RBI as a sophomore in 2015 and will be expected to move from first base to the starting catcher role after the loss of 2015 Johnny Bench Award winner Garrett Stubbs to graduation.
The Trojans will also expect big things from redshirt junior and returning shortstop Reggie Southall, who came on strong to end the 2015 season, who hit .400 in the postseason, earning All-Lake Elsinore Regional honors.
Aside from Southall, the infield will have a new look in 2016. Redshirt sophomore Frankie Rios and sophomore Angelo Armenta, along with freshmen Lars Nootbaar and Brandon Perez are competing for the second base slot. Sophomore Adalberto Carrillo, a plus defender, is the frontrunner for the open third base position, with other options being Rios and Armenta. At first base the Trojans are going to look to the left-handed hitting freshman Dillon Paulson, along with Ramirez and freshman Austin Russ.
Robinson, who led the team with 53 RBI this past season, will continue to man center field. Two other returning standout outfielders include right fielder Ramirez, who batted .259 with a team-high nine home runs and designated hitter/outfielder David Oppenheim batted .284 in 2015. Other Trojans expected to step up and potentially earn starting roles in the outfield include junior Corey Dempster, who may potentially take the left field starting position that was vacated by 2015 Third Team All-American Bobby Stahel, who is now in the Colorado Rockies organization. Also in the mix with Dempster and Oppenheim is redshirt junior Turner Clouse.
On the mound, the Trojans have the deepest pitching staff of the Dan Hubbs era. The Trojans return two of their top starting pitchers in Davis and Hart, along with highly experienced senior arm Brent Wheatley and junior left-hander Bernardo Flores. Davis boasted a 4.05 ERA with 20 appearances through 53.1 innings pitched, while Hart had an ERA of 4.07 and a record of 7-3 through 86.1 innings pitched. The Trojans also return top relievers Marc Huberman and Brooks Kriske. The left-handed Huberman had a team-low 2.36 ERA in 2015, with four saves in a team-high 27 appearances. He struck out 48 batters in 49.2 innings pitched. Kriske, a right-hander, had a 2.90 ERA and appeared in 20 games, throwing 31 innings.
The 2016 team also boasts 15 newcomers, including highly touted pitcher Marrick Crouse; infielders Paulson, Russ, Nootbaar and Perez; and pitcher/catcher Stubbs. Crouse, a right-handed pitcher, will be a big part of the 2016 club with starting potential, while Paulson and Nootbaar are vying for starting roles. Junior college transfer and former Cal State Fullerton Titan Joe Navilhon, a right-handed pitcher, brings experience and will bolster a strong Trojan pitching core in 2016.
In 2015, the Trojans finished with a .296 batting average—the team’s highest since 2002. They were also among the Pac-12 leaders in multiple offensive categories, ranking second in batting average, second in on-base percentage (.374), third with a .411 slugging percentage, first with 377 runs scored, first with 614 hits, first with 347 RBI, third with 35 home runs, third with 110 doubles and second with 857 total bases. The team was also fourth with 857 total bases, led the Pac-12 with 94 stolen bases and was first with 46 sac flies.
2015 RECAP — The Trojans made the NCAA Tournament in 2015 for the first time since 2005, advancing to the Lake Elsinore Regional final where they lost in extra innings to Virginia. The Trojans lose 2015 Johnny Bench Award winning catcher Garrett Stubbs, a First Team All-American, and batting average leader Bobby Stahel. Nationally, the Trojans ranked amongst the top in many offensive categories, including leading the country in sacrifice flies and ranking 18th in total stolen bases. Outfielder Bobby Stahel’s .379 batting average was 26th nationally, while his 86 hits ranked 15th.
Individually, an impressive four Trojans finished in the top 11 in the Pac-12 in RBI, led by Timmy Robinson who was second with 53, Jeremy Martinez and AJ Ramirez who tied for sixth with 45, and Dante Flores finished 11th with 43.
Stahel, who was a finalist for the Gregg Olson Award, presented to the breakout player of the year in college baseball, batted .376, the best batting average of any Trojan since 2008. His team-leading 92 hits were the most in the program since 1998 when Robb Gorr had 96 hits.
IN THE PAC-12 — The Trojans were picked to finish fifth in the Pac-12 in 2016. Last season the Trojans finished tied for third with California and Arizona State.
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 and on Snapchat with the handle baseball_usc.
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.
TROJANS ON THE NET — USC baseball games this season will be broadcast live on usctrojans.com with video webcasts for majority of home games. For road games you can hear a live radio broadcast on usctrojans.com.
CLASS BY CLASS PROSPECTS — Senior right-handed pitcher Brent Wheatley was named the 22nd best senior in all of college baseball by Perfect Game USA. Likewise, RHP Kyle Davis was named the 56th-best senior and OF Timmy Robinson was named the 61st best senior. Sophomore pitcher Mitch Hart was named the No. 17th best sophomore nationally.
TROJANS IN THE MAJORS — In the history of the USC baseball program, a total of 110 players had made it to the major leagues. Current major leaguers include Ryan Cook (Seattle Mariners); Tommy Milone (Minnesota Twins); Brad Boxberger (Tampa Bay Rays); Lucas Duda (New York Mets); Ian Kennedy (San Diego Padres); JP Howell (LA Dodgers). BRINGING HIS SKILLS BACK — Former USC shortstop Gabe Alvarez enters his sixth 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— Volunteer assistant coach Chris Duffy, in his second season, came to Troy from his alma mater South Mountain Community College, where he was an assistant coach for two seasons, assisting with the outfielders, hitters and base-running, while coaching first base and recruiting. He helped coach the team to the Division I Region Championship series for two-straight seasons, including winning the region in 2014. During his two years as a coach he had five outfielders receive NCAA Division I baseball scholarships. He was also an instrumental part of ensuring the success of the student-athletes in the classroom by monitoring academic progress and acting as a student-athlete success coach. Duffy played 10 years of professional baseball, including four seasons as a major league outfielder after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the eighth round of the 2001 MLB First Year Player’s Draft. After having success as an all-star at virtually every level of the minor leagues, he was rated the best outfielder by Baseball America in 2004.
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).
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HALL OF FAME — Legendary USC pitcher Randy Johnson became the third Trojan to be named to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He is just the second Trojan to enter the Hall as a player, following in the footsteps of Tom Seaver, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992 with a 98.8 percent vote, which remains the highest percentage ever for an inducted member. Pat Gillick entered the Hall of Fame in 2011 as a front office executive with the Philadelphia Phillies.