Trojans Host Loyola Marymount in Final Nonconference Tune-Up|
March 10, 2014
LOS ANGELES - The Trojans host Loyola Marymount in their final nonconference tune-up on Tuesday evening before opening up Pac-12 play on the road at Oregon this weekend.
The Trojans are looking to get back in the win column after having dropped four-straight games. After losing 6-4 at UC Irvine, the Trojans fell 6-1 to Houston, 10-4 to Pepperdine and 6-5 to crosstown rival UCLA. In three of those four games, the Trojans held leads by at least two runs, but they were unable to hold on, as they Trojan bullpen ended up giving up 15 runs over the four games. The Trojans also have to be more effective at the plate in driving in runs, as they left 27 men on base over last week's four games. Walks and errors have also come back to haunt the Trojans as of late, so they are looking to shore things up against Loyola Marymount and in the upcoming Pac-12 series at Oregon.
LOYOLA MARYMOUNT NOTES-- The Lions come to USC with a record of 9-7, having won seven-straight games. This past week they defeated UCLA, Cal State Northridge and swept Northern Kentucky in a three-game weekend set. On the road this season they are only 1-2.
The team is led by Austin Miller and Tommy Cheek, who are batting .373 and .343, respectively. Cheek has also driven in an impressive 16 runs. As a team they are batting .284. On the mound the Lions have a team ERA of 3.64. Freshman Brenton Arriaga is slated to make his first career start vs. the Trojans on Tuesday. He has only made two appearances and thrown 2.2 innings of work.
The Trojans lead the all-time series with LMU, 129-24-1. Last season the Trojans took two victories from the Lions, defeating them 2-1 at home and 5-2 at LMU.
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.
HOT HITTING -- Kevin Swick has continued his hot hitting, going 9-for-17 last week (.529). Jake Hernandez, who leads the Pac-12 with a batting average of .435 and ranks 35th nationally, went 5-for-14 last week at the plate.
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.
SLICK FIELDING -- The Trojans fielding percentage of .986 ranks second in the nation and is just 0.001 behind the leader, Cal State Northridge.
NOT AFRAID TO SACRIFICE - The Trojans rank first in the Pac-12 and are fourth in the nation with 23 sacrifice bunts.
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.
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 Canda, 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.
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).