USC Preview

For West Coast college baseball tradition, one needs look no further than the USC Trojans and the Stanford Cardinal. Always perennial powers, Stanford and USC battle every year for the Pac-10 title and college baseball supremacy. Recently, Stanford has dominated, winning 7 of 8 last year and beating USC en route to the CWS. Will the Card continue its dominance or will the Trojans regain the edge in a rivalry that is 346 games old?

#16 USC (6-6) vs. #9 Stanford (9-6) 

Friday: 6:00 PM
Saturday: 1:00 PM
Sunday: 1:00 PM

*All games played at Sunken Diamond. 

One of the best rivalries in college baseball resumes this weekend at Sunken Diamond. Over the last two years, the Cardinal have certainly bested the University of Southern California, winning 11 out of 14. USC has won only one of the last four series with Stanford sweeping the Trojans at Sunken in 2001 and at Dedeaux Field in 2002.  

In the 2002 Stanford Super Regional, USC and Stanford would square off again. The NCAA Committee elected to put virtually all of the West Coast teams in either the USC or Stanford Regional and Pac-10 rivals would meet for the second time in the four-year history of the Super Regionals. After 1999, the NCAA attempted to separate the best teams in each conference so that they would not play until the CWS. However, September 11th was used as a poor excuse to regionalize the tournament. Stanford swept the Trojans in two low scoring games and moved on the CWS. Both Mike Gillespie and Mark Marquess agreed that the matchup should never have happened as early as it did. 

In 2003, both teams are again highly ranked but have very different personnel. The Trojans lose Brian Barre, a mainstay in CF, Alberto Concepcion, a three-year starter behind the plate, and Bill Peavey, who discovered his stroke and really played well his senior season. Anthony Reyes comes back to anchor the rotation, but he will not play this weekend because of an elbow injury. Reyes was only supposed to be out for a week (last week), but is not listed as a starter this weekend. The 2003 Trojans also are without J.P. Howell, who transferred to Texas (but did not pitch last weekend), plus Matt Chico and Cory Campos, members of the pitching rotation in 2002 who are academically ineligible in 2003. 

The Cardinal and Trojans both journeyed to the Lone Star State last weekend, with very different results. Stanford got 2 of 3 from #4 Texas, but USC was swept by a very good Baylor team, losing a pair of one run games in a Saturday doubleheader, and losing 3-1 on Sunday. They defeated UC Irvine by a score of 6-4 Tuesday. 

 

STANFORD  

A huge weekend for the Cardinal in Austin. Taking 2 of 3 from the Texas Longhorns at Disch-Falk Field is a big accomplishment for the Cardinal, who started off the year 1-5 against the Cal St. Fullerton Titans and Florida St. Seminoles. The Cardinal, for the first time all season, exploded offensively in the doubleheader. Considering Texas came into the series with a 2.67 ERA (granted, against no competition), the Cardinal's 19 runs on Saturday were quite impressive. Most impressive was the performance of Carlos Quentin, who went 7-10 in the doubleheader, with a 5-6, 3 2B day in Game 1.  

The pitching in Texas gets a mixed review. First, John Hudgins was solid as he has been all season long, picking up his 3rd win, going 7 innings while giving up 4 runs. Matt Manship, fighting nerves and pitching only 1 hour away from his hometown of San Antonio, retired the #2 through the #6 hitters in order in the 8th and 9th. In the 8th, Manship led 8-7 but the tying run stood 90 feet away and the go ahead run at 2nd. Manship got out of the 8th and blew away the final two hitters of the ninth inning for his 2nd save. 

Not as impressive was the performance of the rest of the bullpen. David O'Hagan struggled for the first time this season, failing to finish out the first game Saturday, needing relief from Kodiak Quick to escape. Mark Romanczuk not only gave up his first run of the year but gave up three additional runs, but Manship saved him in Game 2. Tim Cunningham's absence hurt Stanford on Sunday. Because Cunningham was out and will be out for at least two more weeks with a broken pinky, the Cardinal were forced to start Jonny Dyer and use Sunday as a day where a number of pitchers would throw a few innings. Dyer, Ehrlich, and Quick did ok through 6 innings, limiting Texas to 3 runs. However, Quick and Jecmen came apart in the 7th, yielding 4 to Texas. The bullpen will need to perform better this weekend if Stanford wishes to beat USC in this nonconference series.  

 

Probable Starting Lineup: 

  • C Ryan Garko:

    2003: .300, 4 HR, 15 RBI. Texas Series: 3-12, 1 HR, 5 RBI.

Garko's HR in the first inning of Game 1 of the Texas series was huge for the Cardinal, proving that they could score in both the first inning and against Texas' pitching staff. He would have only two more hits the rest of the series, including an 0-4 with two double play groundouts on Sunday. Garko hit .357 against USC in 2002. 

  • 1B John Mayberry, Jr.

2003: .312, 2 HR, 7 RBI. Texas Series: 6-15, 3B, 3 RBI.

Mayberry had perhaps the best series of anyone last weekend in Austin. His 8 game hitting streak is the longest this year for Stanford, and Mayberry has hit safely in 14 of the first 15 games for the Cardinal. His triple on Saturday showed off his tremendous speed, as he got from first to third in a hurry. 

  • 2B Chris Lewis

2003: .185, 0 HR, 6 RBI. Texs Series: 1-11, 2B.

Lewis didn't have a hit in the doubleheader (0-9) and only one hit in the series, but his defense was instrumental in the victory during the nightcap of the DH. He made a huge catch of a short fly ball, falling over backwards in the 5th inning, and threw out a runner trying to score in the 6th. Lewis may have to battle Jonny Ash for the second base starting spot this weekend now that Ash is healthy, but he looks to have made the transition from SS, which he played in HS. 

  • SS Tobin Swope

2003: .362, 0 HR, 5 RBI. Texas Series: 2-10.

Swope fell off a bit this weekend with an 0-6 in the doubleheader but came back with 2 hits to RF on Sunday. No errors for Swope as he played flawless defense on the turf of Disch-Falk Field.  

  • 3B Jed Lowrie

    2003: .351, 0 HR, 4 RBI Texas Series: 4-11, 2 RBI.

Lowrie continues to impress at 3B. He had his first 4 hit game of his young Stanford career during Game 1, but then did go hitless the rest of the series. Did not hit the ball out of the infield in Games 2 or 3 of the series. Played good defense, showcasing his great arm. 

  • LF Brian Hall

2003: .274, 2 HR, 8 RBI. Texas Series: 3-12, 3 RBI.

Hall continues to struggle: only 5 for his last 37. A big 2 RBI 1B in the 3rd inning of Game 1 certainly helped to give him a little confidence for the rest of the series in Austin.  

  • CF Sam Fuld

2003: .231, 1 HR, 4 RBI. Texas Series: 3-13, RBI, SB.

Still waiting for Fuld to produce as he did last year. Slow starting last year and to some extent in 2001, Fuld will break out at some point. Hasn't hit USC well in his career: hitting only .241 in 58 AB. Hitting at the top of the order against righties and second vs. lefties.  

  • RF Carlos Quentin

2003: .370, 0 HR, 5 RBI. Texas Series: 8-12, 4 2B, 2 RBI.

A huge, breakout weekend against Texas in which Quentin dominated the doubleheader, going 7-10 (5-6, 3 2B in Game 1 alone). His average went up 84 points this weekend. While he didn't homer, the first ball he hit on Saturday would have left the park at any stadium except Disch-Falk. Quentin made an adjustment and stands much quieter at the plate before the pitch is delivered, and got rid of the exaggerated trigger mechanism that he was using for the first part of the season. 

  • DH Danny Putnam

2003: .383, 2 HR, 7 RBI. Last Weekend: 3-8, 3 RBI.

Putnam has been the most consistent hitter this year. While he hasn't homered since the Santa Clara series, he puts up similar numbers every weekend. Is not playing much against lefties, and may not start against Dizard on Saturday. 

 

 Probable Rotation:

  • Fri: John Hudgins

    2003: 3-0, 2.75 ERA, 36.0 IP, 36 K, 4 BB.
    Last Outing: W vs. Texas, 7.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R/ER, 1 BB, 8 K.
    2002: 10-1, 4.71 ERA, 105 IP, 62 K.

Not as dominating a performance against Texas as he had against Florida St. and Fresno St, but certainly enough to earn a win against the Longhorns. Hudgins has been extremely consistent this season and has been everything through 5 starts that Stanford could have asked for. Hitters have had to swing it against Hudgins, who has cut his walks way down in 2003. 2-0 with a 5.27 ERA against USC in his career, Hudgins didn't throw against the Trojans in the Super Regionals last year.  

  • Sat:  Ryan McCally

    2003: 1-1, 4.10 ERA, 26.1 IP, 14 K, 6 BB.
    Last Outing: ND vs. Texas, 4.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R/ER, 4 BB, 1 K.
    2002: 4-3, 3.53, 25 A, 1 GS

McCally will start on Saturday again because of the injury to Tim Cunningham. He seemed to hit a wall last week in the 5th inning again, which has been a recurring theme for McCally, save the Fresno St. performance which he dominated. McCally lost the strike zone in the 5th inning on Saturday, walking the 8-9 hitters on 8 pitches and giving up a single before being removed. He has dominated USC in the past: in 9.1 innings he has yet to allow an earned run against the Trojans and has two victories. 

  • Sun: Jonny Dyer

    2003: 0-1, 4.50 ERA, 4.0 IP, 4 BB, 1 K.
    Last Outing: L vs. Texas, 3.0+ IP, 2 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 1 K.

This spot is a tossup for Stanford, and they have not announced a starter. Dyer started last weekend and ran into trouble in the fourth inning and was pulled after giving up a HR and a 4 pitch walk. For his first start (and easily his longest appearance at Stanford), he kept Stanford in the game and Mark Marquess was looking to get only 3-4 innings anyway. This spot could go to either Romanczuk or Manship if Marquess can save either one for Sunday, but look for this spot to be a combination of pitchers who don't throw on Friday or Saturday including Ehrlich, the three freshman, and possibly Jecmen. Romanzcuk will probably continue to be used out of the pen considering he is the only lefty that Stanford has.

  • Bullpen: LHP Mark Romanczuk, RHP David O'Hagan, RHP Mark Jecmen, RHP Drew Ehrlich, RHP Kodiak Quick, RHP Matt Manship, RHP Billy Paganetti.
 

 
USC

 The verdict is still out on the Trojans at this point in the season. Certainly they are a very talented team, but they have been decimated by injuries, academic issues, and transfers. First, Anthony Reyes, who some consider one the best pitchers in the Pac-10, is out this week with injury (or at least is not scheduled to make a start). Reyes was out at the start of 2002 with elbow problems, and this may be a reoccurrence of last year's injury. Brett Bannister, the sophomore RHP who went 8-3 last season, is out with injury. So the Trojans, who were troubled by injury through much of last year, are again hurt by players being out. 

That does not even mention the players who aren't on the USC roster but could have been. J.P. Howell, who was up and down last year and reportedly didn't get along with Mike Gillespie, transferred to Texas. Matt Chico and Cory Campos, two left-handed pitchers who were expected to be two of the two main arms for the Trojans (Chico likely as a starter), were ruled academically ineligible and are off the team. So USC now has to rely upon Brian Bannister, Brett's brother who was great in 2001 as the closer but didn't play in 2002 after elbow problems, must start on Friday. Fraser Dizard, who only appeared in 3 games because of injury last year, gets the start on Saturday, and Bobby Paschal, a freshman is moved up to start on Sunday. Mike Gillespie and Dave Lawn must be scratching their heads: every time they get one pitcher back, another one goes down. 

Offensively, USC returns a number of high quality players. Anthony Lunetta moves to SS from 2B, where in 2000 he was Pac-10 Freshman of the Year. Lunetta hasn't been the same after elbow surgery before his junior year, and needs to be a leader this year, but has started slow (.227). Michael Moon will return to 3B, where he played in 2001, and many think that Joey Metropoulos, who started at DH his freshman year, is the best hitter in the conference. Jeff Clement, who hit 75 career HR (National Record) at Marshalltown HS in Iowa, has already hit 6 for USC while starting at catcher.  

       
Key Losses:
  • C Alberto Concepcion: A three year starter for USC, Concepcion led USC with a .363 average last season and added 11 HR.
  • 1B Bill Peavey: Big Bill had a monster senior season with a .361 average and 15 homers to boot.
  • CF Brian Barre: The sparkplug at the top of the USC lineup had power too- .331 with 12 HR. Maybe missed the most of anybody.
  • LHP Cory Campos: Campos is ineligible after his 6-3, 3.84 ERA in 2002.

 
Key Returners:
  • RHP Anthony Reyes
  • 1B Joey Metropolous
  • SS Anthony Lunetta
  • RHP Brian Bannister
 

Probable Starting Lineup: 

    C Jeff Clement (Fr., L/R, 6'1", 205)

    2003: .255, 6 HR, 13 RBI. 2002: .509, 16 HR at Marshalltown HS.

No doubt about it, Clement can hit for power. The USA career record holder for high school HR (75, passing Drew Henson) is one of the biggest recruits USC has ever had. Clement started slow, going 1 for his first 15, but broke out huge against South Alabama, hitting 4 HR in two games, earning National Player of the Week Honors as well as Pac-10 Player of the Week. Clearly tries to hit the long ball- has also struck out 10 times in 47 AB. 

  • 1B Joey Metropolous (So, R/R, 6'1", 230)

    2003: .356, 1 HR, 8 RBI. 2002: .352, 13 HR, 52 RBI.

Metropolous moves to 1B to replace the graduated Bill Peavey. The Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in 2002, Metropolous has tons of power, probably the best in the Pac-10 (besides maybe newcomer Clement). This year there will be a little more pressure on the big first baseman, as he will again hit in the middle of the order but the protection of Concepcion in front and Peavey behind is gone. 

  • 2B Jon Brewster (Jr., R/R, 6'0", 190)

    2003: .318, 1 HR, 4 RBI. 2002: .277, 1 HR, 8 RBI.

Brewster started at 3B last year but with the entire infield switching positions, he moves back to 2B. Has started well: he had an eight game hitting streak into the Baylor series but had it snapped. Trying to fill the large shoes left behind by Brian Barre: hits at the top of the order. 

  • SS Anthony Lunetta (Sr., R/R, 5'10", 180)

    2003: .227, 1 HR, 6 RBI. 2002: .271, 1 HR, 24 RBI.

Since his freshman year, Lunetta has steadily declined in production. He put up huge numbers in 2000 (.343, 12, 50) but has dropped off ever since. In 2001, he suffered an injury to his elbow and many think that is the reason that he has struggled. Last year, he started the year at SS but moved back to 2B where he played for most of 2000 and 2001. This year, Lunetta seems to finally be healthy and is starting at SS, but the offense hasn't come around just yet. 

  • 3B Michael Moon (Jr., L/R, 6'0", 205)

    2003: .283, 1 HR, 4 RBI. 2002: .336, 8 HR, 60 RBI.

Moon was All Pac-10 Honorable Mention last year playing at SS for the Trojans, and will switch back to 3B in 2003, where he started as a freshman. Good power and a good hitter overall, Moon homered off Jeremy Guthrie in the Super Regionals last year. Committed only 6 errors as a freshman and infield should be better with Moon at 3B. 

  • LF Billy Hart (RS Fr.., R/R, 6'3", 205)

    2003: .235, 0 HR, 1 RBI. 2002: Redshirted.

Hart is a redshirt freshman who also is a backup QB for the football team. Spencer Gordon (.212, 0 HR, 4 RBI) may also see time in the LF spot, the least settled in the outfield. 

  • CF Travis McAndrews (Sr., L/L, 6'1", 200)

    2003: .378, 1 HR, 8 RBI. 2002: .324, 3 HR, 28 RBI.

The leading hitter for USC 12 games into the season, McAndrews has done well replacing Brian Barre in CF. McAndrews played a fair amount in 2002, his first year at USC after transferring from LA Harbor College. Riding a 7 game hitting streak. 

  • RF David Gordon (Sr., R/R, 6'3", 225)

    2003: .278, 2 HR, 3 RBI. 2002: .326, 1 HR, 22 RBI.

Another JC transfer, Gordon will be the everyday RF after limited playing time last season. He is a big righty who can hit for power. Went 4-5 with 4 RBI in a game against the Cardinal at Sunken in 2002 during Pac-10 play. 

  • DH Spencer Gordon (Jr., R/R. 6'2", 200)

    2003: .212, 0 HR, 4 RBI. 2002: 1-15.

Gordon tried but failed to make the team in 2000 and 2001. In 2002, he made the team but saw little playing time and even less success. Will see time at DH along with transfer. Tyler Haskell 

Probable Rotation: 

  • Fri: RHP Brian Bannister (Jr., 6'1", 205)

    2003: 2-1, 1.93 ERA, 4 A, 3 GS, 23.1 IP, 4 BB, 14 K.
    Last Outing: ND vs. Baylor, 7.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R/ER, 3 BB, 3 K.

After sitting out all of last year with an elbow injury, the elder Bannister has pitched very well in his last two outings, only allowing 1 run in 14 innings. In 2002, Bannister served as the closer for the Trojans during the final part of the season, finishing with 5 saves. He moves up in the rotation for the second consecutive week because of the injury to Anthony Reyes, who is listed as day-to-day but not scheduled to start in the series. 

  • Sat: LHP Fraser Dizard (Jr., 6'0", 195)

    2003: 1-0, 4.50 ERA, 4 GS, 16.0 IP, 9 BB, 10 K.
    Last Outing: ND vs. Baylor, 4.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R/ER, 3 BB, 4 K.

Dizard, like Brian Bannister, was out last year (save three brief appearances) with an elbow injury and with the plethora of injuries and other losses to the USC rotation, ends up in the starting rotation in 2003. 7 saves out of the bullpen in 2001. 

  • Sun: LHP Bobby Paschal (Fr., 5'11", 190)

    2003: 0-2, 2.60 ERA, 4 G, 2 GS, 1 CG, 17.1 IP, 3 BB, 15 K
    Last Outing: L vs. Baylor, 8.0 IP (CG), 7 H, 3 R/ER, 0 BB, 6 K.

Mike Gillespie started two freshman lefties last season (Chico and Howell) and has another young lefty this year in Paschal, who has been excellent. Opponents are hitting just .212 against Paschal, and he is averaging about a walk per start. Tough luck loser against Baylor last week when the Trojans were only able to come up with one run on Sunday.

    .

Bullpen: LHP Josh Rummonds (1-0, 0.90 ERA, 4 G)
RHP Bret Butler (0-1, 1.59 ERA, 6 G)
RHP Michael Cooper (0-0, 4.50 ERA, 5 G)
LHP Jordan Olson (0-0, 6.35 ERA, 4 G)
RHP Jon Williams (1-0, 1.59 ERA, 3 G)
 

 

The Last Time (2002 NCAA Stanford Super Regional): 

6/8/02  Stanford 5, USC 3

The Cardinal advanced to the CWS by sweeping the Trojans in the NCAA Super Regional, winning on this Saturday 5-3. Cunningham, McCally, and Rich limited the Trojans to only 6 hits. USC made three errors in the game, including two in the 6th and Stanford capitalized with 4 runs in the inning. Dan Rich got his second save in as many days. 

6/7/02  Stanford 4, USC 2

A well pitched game by both Jeremy Guthrie and Anthony Reyes, with Guthrie winning the battle. Stanford never trailed, getting big HRs from Carlos Quentin and Chris Carter. Michael Moon homered in the 8th and the next batter Alberto Concepcion hit a ball to the wall, but Fuld made the catch. Guthrie held on with help from Dan Rich.



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