Trojans Travel to Crosstown Rival UCLA for Big Pac-12 Series Starting Thursday|
April 23, 2014
LOS ANGELES - The Trojans enter this weekend's big series vs. crosstown rival UCLA on Thursday, April 24 at 6 p.m. PT. The Trojans are riding a six-game winning streak as they head into the series. The team is fresh off a 10-4 midweek victory over Hawai'i, after sweeping Arizona, for the first time since 2001. The sweep was also the first Pac-12 series sweep since 2009.
The Trojans took care of business on Tuesday vs. Hawai'i, taking advantage of errors and driving in runners in scoring position throughout the game. In the win the Trojans hit double-digit run totals for just the fourth time this season. Jake Hernandez led the Trojans with a 3-for-5 day at the plate, while Timmy Robinson and Jeremy Martinez each had two RBI apiece. Brooks Kriske had a good start for the Trojans, but only went 4.2 innings, and took the no-decision, while Kyle Twomey took the win and Kyle Davisgot the save after entering in the top of the eighth inning with the bases loaded, two down and the Trojans only leading 6-4. The Trojans pushed the game out of reach in the bottom of the eighth as they tallied four runs.
The Trojans got three stellar starts vs. Arizona, headlined by Wyatt Strahan, who was named the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week after throwing his first complete-game shutout in a 1-0 victory on Thursday. He held the Wildcats, the top-hitting team in the Pac-12 entering the weekend to just five hits. Overall the Trojans held the Wildcats to just 12 hits on the year. Brent Wheatley started game two of the series, that went to 12 innings. He went 6.1 innings of work in the no-decision, before sophomore Kyle Twomey was lights-out in 5.2 innings of relief work, holding the Wildcats to just one run. Omar Cotto Lozada, who was 3-for-6 in the game, came through with a huge game-winning single in the bottom of the 12th inning as the Trojans won 5-4. Senior Bob Wheatley went 7.0 innings in a much-needed strong start, holding the Wildcats to just two innings, walking one and striking out two. Jeremy Martinezled the team on the weekend at the plate, going 7-fo-13 (.538) with two RBI on the weekend.
DO NOT CHASE -- Entering the week, Trojan senior first baseman Jake Hernandez, who leads the team with a .336 batting average, is the hardest hitter to strikeout in the Pac-12, only doing so every 15.7 plate appearances.
UCLA NOTES-- The Bruins enter this weekend's rivalry series with an overall record of 22-6 and a Pac-12 record of 9-6. That Pac-12 record is the same the team held last season at this time, when they went on to win the NCAA title. The team is led by catcher Shane Zeile at the plate, who boasts a batting average of .353. As a team they are batting .260. On the mound, the ever-solid Bruin pitching staff has a team ERA of 2.83. Ace righty James Kaprielian is 5-3 on the year with a 2.12 ERA and leads the team with 68 strikeouts.
Overall, the Trojans lead the series with the Bruins 253-131. However, the Trojans have dropped 24 of the last 29 games to their crosstown rivals. The Trojans haven't won a series against the Bruins since 2008, and the last sweep was in in 2005. The Trojans have lost nine straight. The Trojans were swept at Jackie Robinson Stadium in 2012. The two teams met earlier this season in a nonconference matchup, and despite a strong outing from Bob Wheatleyon the mound, the Trojans lost, 6-5.
IN THE RANKINGS -- The Trojans rank fifth in the nation with 53 sacrifice bunts, which only ranks third in the Pac-12.
STARTERS Thursday: RHP Wyatt StrahanCareer Highs IP: 9.0 IP - last April 17, 2014 vs. Arizona Strikeouts: 11 - Apirl 11, 2014 vs. Utah - Earned first-career Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week honor on Monday after a complete-game shutout in last Thursday's 1-0 victory over Arizona. Strahan held the Wildcats to just five hits. He also earned College Sports Madness National Pitcher of the Week honors.
Friday: RHP Brent Wheatley Career Highs IP: 6.1 IP - 2x, last April 18, 2014 vs. Arizona Strikeouts: 4, Feb. 20, 2013 vs. Loyola Marymount
Saturday: LHP Bob WheatleyCareer Highs IP: 7.0, multiple times, last April 19 vs. Arizona Strikeouts: 10, March 2, 2014 vs. Cal Poly
After a national search, it appears that Bob and Brent Wheatley are just one of two weekend starters for a NCAA Division I team. The other pair of starter brothers are at Northwestern State in Louisiana. The Wheatley's father, Bob Wheatley, Sr., played basketball at USC, while their mother, Julie, was a Song Girl.
PAC-12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK -- USC senior third baseman Kevin Swickwas 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 Martinezwas 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.
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 Nootbaarwas 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.
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 Alvarezenters 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.