USC: Brad Douthit

Baseball: Trojans get big victory on Senior Day

May, 30, 2010
5/30/10
11:00
PM PT
USC center fielder Mike O'Neill stood, smiling, at the top of the Dedeaux Field dugout steps after Sunday's game, an 11-5 win over Washington that capped off the Trojans' disappointing 2010 season.

O'Neill, a senior, had just had perhaps his best game in his collegiate career, a 4-for-5, one home run, four RBI performance that sparked the Trojans. He was right in the middle of explaining how much the Senior Day victory meant to him — right in the middle of finishing up the second syllable in the word "speechless."

Then he got a faceful of shaving cream to the face from teammate Joe De Pinto as a host of Trojans watched from the dugout steps, piling up to see O'Neill's shining moment. O'Neill had no idea it was coming, but he would later say it was a good example of the team's camaraderie even in the face of failure.

The Trojans oozed camaraderie Sunday. On a day in which four of the team's five graduating seniors shined, the Trojans (28-32, 7-20 in the Pac-10) did both the little and big things right, holding a potent Washington attack to five runs and putting together a seven-run eighth inning to take control of the game.

But it was a bittersweet victory for fourth-year USC coach Chad Kreuter, who finished the season out of an NCAA Regional for the fourth consecutive year and sporting a 111-117 overall record and 39-63 conference record as a collegiate coach.

To the 15-year big leaguer, Sunday's win represented what could've been for the Trojans.

"It's a good feeling to get the win," Kreuter said after the game. "Especially with all the seniors doing so well. But, again, we could've been here all year."

With the win and Saturday's 10-5 win, USC took two out of three from Washington, only the Trojans' second conference series win of the year.

As for Sunday's game, O'Neill and fellow senior outfielder Keith Castillo each had four hits to kickstart USC's 16-hit attack. Freshman designated hitter Cade Kreuter had the sharp single that started the Trojans' seven-run eighth inning and added a sacrifice fly later in the inning. Sophomore first baseman Ricky Oropesa was pitched around all game along and went just 1-for-2 with three walks — but the one hit was a 400+ foot homer to right field to lead off the fourth inning.

On the mound, sophomore Brandon Garcia started and was reasonably effective, throwing five innings of four-run ball. But USC got key relief from a variety of sources to stymie the Huskies as Chris Mezger pitched two innings and Adam Dedeaux, Shuhei Fujiya, Logan Odom and Brad Douthit shut out Washington for another two innings to finish out the game.

Fujiya and Dedeaux are both seniors. The team's other senior, right-hander Kevin Couture, pitched Saturday and helped the team to a win in his final game.

Notes: Oropesa powered his way into the USC record books this season. On the year, he led the Trojans in each of the triple-crown categories with a .353 battering average, 20 homers and 67 RBI, but the sophomore slugger also finished tied for sixth for homers in a single season in USC history, seventh in total bases and tied for fifth in doubles...O'Neill batted a team-high .391 in Pac-10 conference play, a big contrast from his .303 non-conference average...On the year, the younger Kreuter tied the USCsingle-season record for strikeouts, with 64 in 153 at-bats.

Baseball: USC uses unlikely combination to beat Washington

May, 29, 2010
5/29/10
7:58
PM PT
USC used an uncharacteristically patient offense and bend-but-don't-break pitching to beat visiting Washington on Saturday at Dedeaux Field, 10-5, in the Trojans' penultimate game of the season.

The Trojans (27-32, 6-20) put together 13 hits and seven walks to break out for three three-run innings. Washington (28-27, 11-15) put together 13 hits as well but left eight runners on base — a product, USC coach Chad Kreuter said, of timely pitching by a tired Trojans pitching staff.

"It was all pitching," Kreuter said after Saturday's game. "I mean, obviously we had some hitting, but we were able to get enough guys with healthy arms in there and that was big."

After hitting three homers in a 9-7 loss Friday night, USC slugger Ricky Oropesa was pitched around frequently by the Huskies' pitchers in Saturday's matinee. Oropesa went 1 for 3 but reached base three times by walking twice and scored two runs, serving as a table-setter for senior catcher Keith Castillo and the other hitters following him in the lineup.

The four hitters directly behind Oropesa reached base a combined 10 times in 16 tries.

"What he did last night affected what we did today," Kreuter said.

Senior right-hander Kevin Couture earned the start for the Trojans and pitched fairly well, exiting after three earned runs in 4 1/3 innings. Reliever Chad Smith pitched effectively in his stead but had to leave the game after the sixth inning with what Kreuter termed a "tired arm", and junior Ryan Cabral picked up for him but didn't have much success.

Cabral gave up two runs in two-thirds of an inning before giving way to lefty specialist Brad Douthit and right-hander Shuhei Fujiya. Fujiya, who was expected to be the Trojans' closer this season, earned just his second save of the season Saturday after pitching two scoreless innings. Smith (5-6) got the win.

At this point, Kreuter and his Trojans have just one game left on the season (Sunday, 1 p.m.) and are mathematically eliminated from NCAA Regional contention, meaning the focus is largely on preparing for the 2011 season.

Shortly after the game, the fourth-year coach mentioned that a key commit was in the middle of a playoff game in the Bay Area. Much of Kreuter's recent post-game talks with the media have been centered on recruits for the next season and targeting players at specific positions.

Notes: With the win, USC snapped an eight-game losing streak in Pac-10 conference play, the school's longest in 25 years...With a 3-for-5 performance Saturday, center fielder Mike O'Neill raised his average to .331, second-best on the team behind only Oropesa...Washington starter Andrew Kittredge was charged with the loss after allowing four runs in 3 1/3 innings, giving the sophomore righthander seven wins and seven losses on the year and a team-high 14 decisions in 15 starts.

Recapping Wednesday

May, 19, 2010
5/19/10
11:57
PM PT
Links and notes from a busy day in the land of Troy:
  • USC baseball swept its two-game series against New Mexico State with a 5-3 win Wednesday. The Trojans needed just two pitchers — right-hander Brandon Garcia and left-hander Brad Douthit — to limit the visiting Aggies to just three runs, while outfielder Matt Foat had a key RBI single in the bottom of the eighth to give USC the lead. The Trojans are now 25-28 on the season but still 5-16 in the Pac-10 conference, four games behind the ninth-place team, Washington. USC is already on its way to Pullman, Wash. for a three-game state with Washington State that begins Wednesday.
  • Running back/defensive back De'Anthony Thomas (Los Angeles, Calif./Crenshaw) has orally committed to USC, according to USCFootball.com and Thomas' Facebook page. Thomas, still a junior in high school, led Crenshaw to the CIF Open Division Championship Game in 2009 while totaling 81 carries for 902 yards and 12 touchdowns on offense and 52 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions on defense. Out of Crenshaw, his commitment follows that of fellow Cougars linebacker Hayes Pullard, who is set to enroll at USC in June in the class of 2010. Thomas joins recent commit Victor Blackwell (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) in the class of 2011, giving five commits from the ESPNU 150.
  • In more football news, two USC players earned Phil Steele Preseason All-American honors Wednesday. Senior center Kristofer O'Dowd was named to the first team and junior defensive tackle Jurrell Casey was named to the second team. At the conference level, right guard Butch Lewis and receiver Ronald Johnson joined O'Dowd and Casey on the first team. Linebackers Chris Galippo and Michael Morgan earned second-team conference honors, as did right tackle Tyron Smith. Third-team award-winners were quarterback Matt Barkley, running back Allen Bradford, defensive end Nick Perry, linebacker Malcolm Smith and cornerback T.J. Bryant, and linebacker Devon Kennard and fullback Stanley Havili made the fourth team, along with Johnson as a kick returner. Curiously, Bryant, currently in a competition with Torin Harris and Brian Baucham to start alongside senior cornerback Shareece Wright, earned honors from Steele while Wright did not. USC also had four linebackers honored while only three can play at one time in the fall.
  • The salary confusion regarding USC football coach Lane Kiffin continues. HBO's Real Sports reported Tuesday that Kiffin makes just under $4 million, but our Bruce Feldman reports that figure to be erroneous and characterizes Kiffin's salary as "nowhere near" $4 million.
  • Switching gears to golf, the USC women currently lead the nation at the NCAA Championships being held in Wilmington, N.C. Led by sophomore wunderkind Jennifer Song, the Women of Troy sit seven strokes ahead of second-place Alabama. Song's just one stroke behind Arizona State freshman Jennifer Johnson in the individual competition. ""We are very focused," Song told USC's official site. "We are basically thinking about the present, what is in front of us. There is no doubt that each one of us is giving 150% out there."
  • And, lastly, here's an informative piece from our Andy Katz on USC basketball coach Kevin O'Neill's expectations for the 2010 season.

Baseball: Trojans can't make the formula work

May, 14, 2010
5/14/10
11:01
PM PT
USC coach Chad Kreuter talked at length this week about his team's need to be more efficient on offense.

He had a formula: score in four or more innings and score "crooked" numbers multiple times — in other words, more than one run per inning. With the formula, he said a win was "more than likely."

Kreuter's formula didn't work Friday.

Despite scoring four times and scoring two runs on three different occasions, the Trojans visited crosstown rival No. 11 UCLA and lost, 13-7, Friday night before 1,707 fans at Steele Field at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

USC committed two errors and suffered from them dearly, with four unearned runs. Second baseman Ryan Bast also dropped a ball in the eighth inning that allowed two UCLA runners to score, but it was ruled a hit.

Add it all up and solid defense could have saved the Trojans six runs on the night — exactly the margin of UCLA's victory. That fact wasn't lost on Kreuter.

"We did not play defense," Kreuter said. "Again. Our defense let us down, and that's the bottom line on this one."

Bright spots for the Trojans (23-26, 5-14) offensively were center fielder Mike O'Neill and first baseman Ricky Oropesa. O'Neill had two hits and a walk to extend his now-12 game hitting streak, during which he's hitting .500. Oropesa hit his 14th home run of the season to come within five homers of USC's top 10 all-time list. In all, the 1-3 spots in the USC lineup combined to go eight for 13 with a walk and five RBIs, but the rest of the team went just three for 22.

On the mound, starter Ben Mount had his shortest start of the season, lasting just three-plus innings after allowing the first four runners to reach base in the four innings. He was charged with seven runs (three earned). Short-on-pitching USC used three relievers for the duration of the game, but only lefty specialist Brad Douthit (2/3 of an inning, one walk) was effective.

With two more games looming against UCLA on Saturday and Sunday, Kreuter said there was some positive to take away from the contest.

"I leave tonight excited that this team battled and fought and came back and kept themselves within a swinging distance of the game," the fourth-year coach said. "But not excited, not happy at all about the errors, the non-plays."

Notes: USC assistants weren't happy with the umpires or the opponents. Hitting coach Doyle Wilson was ejected in the bottom of the fourth inning for arguing balls and strikes. After the game, volunteer assistant Frank Cruz had words with UCLA coach John Savage regarding what he thought was UCLA throwing at Trojan designated hitter Cade Kreuter, Chad's son. The elder Kreuter also said after the game that third base umpire Darren Hyman admitted he missed a call at second in the top of the eighth inning. ... At three hours 57 minutes, the game was the longest the Trojans have played this season.

Baseball continues slide, falls to UCSB

April, 27, 2010
4/27/10
11:18
PM PT
And the struggles persist for USC baseball. The Trojans lost their second straight game and ninth in their last 11 Tuesday, falling 5-4 at UC Santa Barbara.

Boosted by a strong start from spot starter Logan Odom and a four-run first inning, USC (17-23) looked to have a handle on the game. But the Gauchos fought back, slowly but surely, with two runs in the third and fifth.

With the score tied 4-4 in the seventh, UCSB outfielder Ryan Tregoning hit a solo homer to break the tie, and the Trojans couldn't score again. For the day, USC committed three errors, not helping matters.

Odom started and lasted just three innings but didn't give up an earned run. Senior Shuhei Fujiya came in and pitched two innings in relief, giving up two runs, but southpaw Brad Douthit took the loss after giving up the homer to Tregoning.

For USC, outfielder Mike O'Neill doubled to lead off the game and the Trojans followed with five singles within the inning, forcing UCSB starter Greg Davis to exit the game after just one inning. Ricky Oropesa, Alex Sherrod and Kevin Roundtree were credited with RBI singles.

USC hasn't won consecutive games since March 21-26 against Pacific, Pepperdine and Stanford. The Trojans haven't won a series since earlier that month, against Hawaii. Defense has been a problem all year long, as USC ranks 102nd in the nation in fielding percentage at .965. The team's 52 errors are good for an average of 1.3 per game.

Notes: Oropesa, with 11 homers on the season, is just two away from his total last year. His .342 average is 28 percentage points better than last year's .314. ... In other baseball news, the Los Angeles Dodgers are hosting their second annual USC Night on Thursday at Dodger Stadium. The first 20,000 fans in attendance will receive a cardinal and gold-colored Dodgers hat, and fans who choose to sit in the "My Town" section get a USC-edition Dodgertown shirt and an all-inclusive menu. More information here.

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2013 TEAM LEADERS

PASSINGATTCOMPYDSTD
C. Kessler361236296820
RUSHINGCARYDSAVGTD
J. Allen1357855.814
T. Madden1387035.13
RECEIVINGRECYDSAVGTD
M. Lee5779113.94
N. Agholor5691816.46
TEAMRUSHPASSTOTAL
Offense174.2218.1392.3
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Scoring28.521.37.2