USC Preview

The two teams that have combined for the last eight conference titles meet this weekend at Sunken Diamond when the 2nd ranked Stanford Cardinal host the USC Trojans in a key three-game series. The Trojans enter the weekend in first place in the conference with a 5-1 record while the Card check-in at 2-1 after taking a series at Arizona last weekend. Read on for a preview of this huge Pac-10 series.

USC (19-14, 5-1) at Stanford (23-7, 2-1)

Friday - 6:00pm
Saturday - 1:00pm
Sunday - 1:00pm

Now it gets interesting.  The streaking USC Trojans come to the bay area this weekend to take on the 2nd ranked Stanford Cardinal in a key Pac-10 Conference series at Sunken Diamond.  The Trojans enter this weekend's games in first place in the conference, 1 1/2 games ahead of the Cardinal (although the teams are tied in the loss column).  USC will also be looking for some revenge after Stanford swept them in a three-game non-conference series last month down in Los Angeles.  The winner of this series will certainly have the early upper hand in claiming this year's Pac-10 title.

The Cardinal enter this weekend having won 15 out of their last 18 games and nine consecutive series' to begin the year.  They took 2-of-3 games at Arizona last weekend to open conference play in a wild three-game set.  The first game saw Stanford outlast the Wildcats 5-4 in an 18 inning marathon.  Game two was a complete Cardinal domination as Stanford rolled over Arizona 19-1 behind a season-high 26 hits.  On Sunday, the Wildcats came back from a 10-1 deficit to edge the Cardinal 15-13 in an 8 inning shortened game (so Stanford could catch their flight out of Tucson).  Andy Topham had a huge series going 10-for-18 with two homers and six RBI while Chris O'Riordan went 8-for-18 with a couple of bombs.  On the pitching side of things, Ryan McCally picked up the win in the 18 inning game tossing eight innings out of the bullpen while Tim Cunningham continued his hot streak on the mound with seven quality innings on Saturday (only one run allowed) to record the win.

Statistically speaking, the Cardinal continue to post impressive numbers.  Their team batting average currently sits at .324 while the team ERA remains below four at 3.81.  Jason Cooper came into the week leading the conference in hitting with a .400 average (it dropped slightly after a 1-for-4 performance on Tuesday).  Cooper also now leads the team in homers with seven, one ahead of Ryan Garko's six.  The starting pitching trio of Jeremy Guthrie, Tim Cunningham, and John Hudgins are a combined 16-1 on the season with a 3.36 ERA.  Ryan McCally has put up the top numbers out of the bullpen with a team-high four saves and a 0.76 ERA in his nine relief appearances.

Probable Starting Lineup :
C - Ryan Garko (.330, 6 HR, 27 RBI)
    * Has gone eight consecutive games without a homer (last was on 3-24 at USC).

1B - Arik VanZandt (.303, 1 HR, 9 RBI) or Chris Carter (.229, 1 HR, 8 RBI)
    * Carter struggling with only one hit in his last 12 at-bats.

2B - Chris O'Riordan (.341, 5 HR, 24 RBI)
    * Picking up his power numbers with four homers in his last nine games.

3B - Andy Topham (.314, 4 HR, 17 RBI)
    * Huge series in Arizona with ten hits in the three games.

SS - Scott Dragicevich (.317, 0 HR, 12 RBI) or Tobin Swope (.500, 0 HR, 5 RBI)
    * Swope started two games in Tucson and went 7-for-9.

LF - Brian Hall (.246, 1 HR, 13 RBI) or Danny Putnam (.261, 0 HR, 3 RBI)
    * Putnam getting a chance to play and coming through with four hits in last 12 at-bats (4 games).

CF - Sam Fuld (.321, 2 HR, 18 RBI)
    * Big game last Saturday going 3-for-5 with a double, triple, homer, and six RBI.

RF - Carlos Quentin (.357, 5 HR, 27 RBI)
    * Hottest hitter in the lineup with an eight-game hitting streak including nine hits in his last three games.

DH - Jason Cooper (.394, 7 HR, 32 RBI)
    * Could see Donny Lucy (.289-3-27) here and then Cooper would move out to left.

Probable Starting Pitching Rotation :
Friday - Jeremy Guthrie (RHP; 6-0, 3.08 ERA, 64 1/3 IP, 16 BB, 58 SO)
    * Had career-long ten inning outing last Friday versus Arizona (9 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, and 5 strikeouts).

Saturday - Tim Cunningham (LHP; 5-1, 2.67 ERA, 60 2/3 IP, 21 BB, 33 SO)
    * Has given up just one run in his last 16 innings pitched.

Sunday - John Hudgins (RHP; 5-0, 4.70 ERA, 44 IP, 22 BB, 33 SO)
    * Struggled last Sunday against the Wildcats giving up seven runs in 4 1/3 innings.

Primary Relief Pitchers :
* Ryan McCally (2-0, 2.88 ERA, 4 SV), Drew Ehrlich (0-2, 5.40 ERA, 2 SV), Darin Naatjes (2-0, 3.86 ERA, 2 SV), and J.D. Willcox (1-1, 6.52 ERA).

** USC Trojans **

The USC Trojans come to town this weekend red-hot as they've won seven out of their last eight games since being swept by the Cardinal three weeks ago.  In their two Pac-10 series' they swept California and then took 2-of-3 against Oregon State.  This will be the Trojans' first Pac-10 road series of the year.  USC was ranked #4 in the preseason rankings but a rash of injuries, inconsistent play plus having to play their first 22 games away from Dedeaux Field and the Trojans were a sub-.500 team in late March.  But since the Stanford series, they've turned things around with two series wins and an impressive non-conference victory at Cal State Fullerton last Tuesday.

There could potentially be a lot of runs scored this weekend as the Trojans are the second best hitting team in the conference behind only the Cardinal.  The problem for the Trojans this year has been inconsistent pitching and defense.  Their team ERA currently sits at 5.54 although it has been dropping as of late.  The defense has also been up-and-down with a sub-par .958 fielding percentage.  Individually, catcher Alberto Concepcion, first baseman Bill Peavey, and centerfielder Brian Barre lead the offense.  Barre and Peavey co-lead the team with seven homers apiece while Concepcion is currently hitting .385.  On the mound, Anthony Reyes is the ace of the staff.  Reyes missed the first month and a half with an elbow injury and is just now rounding into shape.  Three weeks ago in his outing against the Cardinal, Reyes was on a pitch count and threw only three innings.  That won't happen this weekend as Reyes is off the strict pitch count and when he's on, he's one of the top pitchers in the country.  On Saturday, the Trojans will start Matt Chico on the hill.  Chico is a freshman lefthander who has the potential to be dominating (13 K's in 7 IP two weeks ago against Cal) but like every freshman he will tend to struggle every once in awhile.

Probable Starting Lineup :
C - Alberto Concepcion (.385, 5 HR, 20 RBI)
    * Could move over to third base and Sam Bonovich slides in at catcher.

1B - Bill Peavey (.339, 7 HR, 34 RBI)
    * Co-leads the team in homers and leads the team in RBI.

2B - Anthony Lunetta (.271, 0 HR, 13 RBI)
    * Hitting .321 in six games since moving up to the leadoff spot in the lineup.

3B - Mark McCauley (.256, 0 HR, 7 RBI)
    * Has started only ten games this season ... in the lineup more for his defense.

SS - Michael Moon (.310, 1 HR, 23 RBI)
    * Solid player who hit .313 last season in his freshman campaign.

LF - Nick Mosich (.387, 0 HR, 6 RBI) or Michael Morales (.386, 0 HR, 9 RBI)
    * Mosich had a successful series against the Cardinal down in LA going 5-for-8.

CF - Brian Barre (.326, 7 HR, 26 RBI)
    * In his third year as a full-time starter ... 26 career homers.

RF - Travis McAndrews (.272, 2 HR, 17 RBI) or David Gordon (.361, 0 HR, 9 RBI)
    * Both players were JC All-American's last season.

DH - Joey Metropoulos (.375, 5 HR, 24 RBI)
    * One of the top contenders for Pac-10 Freshman of the Year.

Probable Starting Pitching Rotation :
Friday - Anthony Reyes (RHP; 1-0, 1.38 ERA, 13 IP, 9 BB, 10 SO)
    * Has not allowed a run in last 10 2/3 innings pitched.

Saturday - Matt Chico (LHP; 4-3, 5.24 ERA, 44 2/3 IP, 29 BB, 50 SO)
    * Drafted in the second round by the Boston Red Sox last June, but elected to come to USC.

Sunday - TBA
    * Possible starters include J.P. Howell (3-3, 4.46 ERA), Brett Bannister (3-2, 2.91 ERA), or Jordan Olson (1-1, 5.71 ERA).

Primary Relief Pitchers :
* Jon Williams (4-1, 3.49 ERA, 3 SV), Bret Butler (2-1, 8.62 ERA), Cory Campos (1-1, 5.74 ERA, 1 SV), Josh Rummonds (0-1, 5.00 ERA).

2002 : A Record Season? :

At the halfway point of the 2002 regular season, the Stanford Cardinal are on pace to get close or even break a few team hitting records.  There are also a few individuals that are on a record pace.  What could determine whether or not these records are broken is if the Card go deep into the postseason.  The "on pace" numbers are calculated if the Stanford plays 68 games this season (their final total in 2001).

Team Records
* Team Batting Average : Current - .324 ... Record - .337
* Runs Scored : Current - 249 ... Record - 582 ... Pace - 564
* Hits : Current - 367 ... Record - 802 ... Pace - 832
* Doubles : Current - 74 ... Record - 165 ... Pace - 168

Individual Records
* Hits (record is 108) - Fuld (on pace for 100), O'Riordan (98), Cooper (98)
* Runs (83) - O'Riordan (82), Garko (82)
* Doubles (29) - Fuld (27)
* Hit by Pitches (19) - Quentin (25), Garko (18)

The Last Time :

It was just three weeks ago that the Cardinal and Trojans hooked-up for a three-game series down in Los Angeles.  Here is a brief recap of the series ...

Game 1 (Stanford 9, USC 6) - Trojans jump out to a 5-0 lead off Jeremy Guthrie in the first two innings, but Guthrie settles down and the offense comes alive.  Card score three in the third and five in the sixth to take the lead.  Guthrie goes 6 IP giving up six runs (three earned) while Dan Rich records the save.  Arik VanZandt leads the offense with a 2-for-4 (HR, 2 RBI) day.

Game 2 (Stanford 12, USC 10 - 11 innings) - 4 hour, 25 minute game saw Stanford go ahead 7-0 after 3 1/2 innings only to have USC come back to tie it at 10-10.  Cunningham goes six innings yielding four earned runs while McCally gets the win with 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.  Cardinal get two in the 11th to win as Scott Dragicevich gets the hit to put the team ahead.

Game 3 (Stanford 5, USC 4) - Stanford completes the sweep with a 5-4 win on Sunday.  O'Riordan, Garko, and Cooper all homer while John Hudgins picks up the win going 6 2/3 innings.  Drew Ehrlich records the save with 2 1/3 innings of scoreless ball.

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