USC: Chad Smith

Baseball: Trojans lose top two signees

August, 16, 2011
8/16/11
6:41
AM PT
USC 2011 signees Tustin (Calif.) third baseman Travis Harrison and Edison (Calif.) shortstop Christian Lopes each signed with the MLB organizations that selected them in June's draft just minutes before Monday's midnight ET deadline, leaving the Trojans without their top two prospects for this year's class.

Harrison, a supplemental first round selection of the Minnesota Twins, signed for a reported $1.1 million. Lopes, who was thought to have potential to turn down an MLB team and go to USC, signed with the Toronto Blue Jay, who took him in the seventh round, for a reported $800,000.

The Trojans' five other signees who were picked in June -- Palm Desert (Calif.) outfielder Ryan Garvey, Gilbert (Ariz.) left-hander Stephen Tarpley, Villa Park (Calif.) right-hander Wyatt Strahan, Junipero Serra (Calif.) third baseman Trent Boras and St. John Bosco (Calif.) shortstop Dante Flores -- all turned down MLB teams and will enroll in classes at USC beginning next Monday.

There were also three players from last year's team that were selected in the draft and had not yet signed as of Monday, deadline day: first baseman Ricky Oropesa and right-handers Austin Wood and Andrew Triggs. Oropesa signed with the San Francisco Giants for a reported $550,000 bonus; he was selected in the 3rd round by the Giants after entering the 2011 season as a projected first-rounder.

Triggs, also drafted by the Giants in the 21st round, chose not to sign with the team that drafted him for the second straight year. He had been selected in the 24th round by the Cleveland Indians in 2010 but returned to school for his redshirt junior season in 2011. Wood, a junior transfer from St. Petersburg College in Florida, signed with the Los Angeles Angels for a reported $180,000, a giant drop-off from the figure he rejected from the Tampa Bay Rays a year ago.

Four other 2011 draftees who played for the Trojans last season have signed with their MLB teams over the last two months and begun their minor-league careers: infielders Joe De Pinto (White Sox) and Shane Boras (Athletics) and right-handers Logan Odom (Angels) and Chad Smith (Tigers).

Baseball: Smith, De Pinto and Triggs all taken Tuesday

June, 7, 2011
6/07/11
4:58
PM PT
Three more USC baseball players were selected on the second day of the 2011 MLB draft Tuesday, with right-hander Chad Smith going to the Detroit Tigers in the 17th round and infielder Joe De Pinto and right-hander Andrew Triggs going within five picks of each other in the 21st round.

Smith, a junior, was USC's closer for most of the 2011 season until he hurt his elbow in a game in late April. He underwent Tommy John surgery in May but still finished the year with an impressive 2.66 ERA in 20 1/3 innings pitched. His negotiation process may be the most interesting of all the Trojans picked, as he would benefit greatly from returning to school and having a healthy senior year.

De Pinto, a senior, was a four-year starter for the Trojans, mostly at second base. Selected with the 651st overall selection by the Chicago White Sox, he hit .300 in 2011 with a team-leading on-base percentage of .409. Triggs, a redshirt junior, led USC in innings pitched and earned run average among starting pitchers, going 5-4 with a 3.67 ERA in 90 2/3 innings. He was taken with the 657th pick by the San Francisco Giants.

They were the fourth, fifth and sixth USC products selected in this week's draft, with Ricky Oropesa, Austin Wood and Logan Odom all going earlier Tuesday.

Another USC signee in the class of 2012, Palm Desert (Calif.) outfielder Ryan Garvey, was selected with the last pick of the 15th round by the Philadelphia Phillies. Garvey is the son of former Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey.

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.

Baseball: USC swept by Washington State

May, 23, 2010
5/23/10
9:14
PM PT
Sunday's effort was better than Friday's and Saturday's for USC, but not by enough to earn a series-salvaging win.

The slipping and sliding Trojans held No. 24 Washington State in check for the first seven innings of Sunday's game before the host Cougars unloaded for five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to break the game open, take the 8-2 victory and send USC home without a win.

Senior righthander Kevin Couture continued his hot streak on the mound, throwing six innings of two-run ball before giving way to reliever Chad Smith. Smith retired the first two batters he faced before allowing a solo homer to Washington State outfielder Garry Kuykendall and loading the bases with Cougars.

He proceeded to get out of the inning but allowed three of the four batters he faced in the eighth to reach base and was charged with four earned runs on the day. Couture has given up two runs his last four appearances, spanning 18 innings.

USC's only runs in the game came on a double steal in the third inning that cost the Trojans a run and an RBI single from center fielder Mike O'Neill in the eighth inning. Third baseman Matt Hart scored both runs.

After losing 20-7 on Friday and 18-4 on Saturday, USC (25-31, 5-19 in the Pac-10) allowed more runs in the weekend series than it had in any other three-game series in the history of the program.

The Trojans are also now locked into the last spot in the conference standings — at 5-19, with a conference winning percentage of .208, USC is a full five games behind ninth-place Oregon State. And, barring a three-game sweep of the Washington Huskies next weekend, coach Chad Kreuter's team will also be the only conference squad to register an under-.500 record on the season.

USC now needs to win each of its last four games in order to avoid the worst regular season of Kreuter's four-year tenure, with a mid-week game with Big West power UC Irvine looming Tuesday before the Washington series.

Baseball: Walk-off homer gives UCLA the series sweep

May, 16, 2010
5/16/10
6:46
PM PT
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of Sunday's series finale and a UCLA runner on first, USC coach Chad Kreuter held a meeting at the mound with his pitcher and catcher to discuss the plan to pitch to UCLA's Cody Keefer.

Having in large part shut out the Bruins' offense for 8 2/3 innings, USC was ahead, 1-0 — one out away from what would have been the Trojans' first 1-0 victory since 2002. Kreuter said he told righthander Chad Smith and catcher Kevin Roundtree to pound the ball on the outside of the strike zone to Keefer, a lefthanded hitter.

"We're gonna call it," Kreuter recalled saying. "Stick with it. Don't deviate off it."

But when Kreuter put his head down in the dugout with the count at 2-1 to Keefer, he missed a crucial deviation from Smith. The sophomore shook off Roundtree's call for an outside pitch, instead choosing to deliver a fastball directly in Keefer's wheelhouse.

Cue a two-run walk-off homer. Cue massive celebration from the UCLA dugout. Cue a 2-1 victory for the Bruins in front of 1,531 fans at Jackie Robinson Stadium and a 3-0 series sweep over USC.

"That pitch never should've been thrown in that situation," a livid Kreuter said after the game. "Our catcher should've known better and our pitcher should've known better — especially since I had just had that meeting on the mound."

Before the fateful pitch, Smith had been on point for the Trojans. Relieving starter Kevin Couture (five innings, two hits, no runs) to start off the sixth inning, Smith had kept the Bruins scoreless in his first three innings of work and appeared to be in line to earn his third save of the season.

But the pitch changed things around quickly. Kreuter and assistants Frank Cruz, Tom House and Doyle Wilson held a meeting in right field after the game with the pitchers and catchers to discuss the play.

"We basically had an air-out session — I don't know if it's called an air-out — it's a come-to-Jesus moment, with what happened there," Kreuter said.

Offensively, USC (23-28, 5-16 in the Pac-10) struggled to put together rallies against UCLA starter Rob Rasmussen. Only twice did the Trojans have more than four at-bats in an inning, and only four USC players reached the basepaths — shortstop Joe De Pinto (2-for-4), designated hitter Cade Kreuter (2-for-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI), second baseman Adam Landecker (2-for-4) and right fielder Garret Houts (1-for-3). Kreuter's solo homer to left in the top of the fourth was USC's only score of the day.

USC was outscored 30-10 by UCLA in the three-game series. UCLA's vaunted triumvirate of weekend starters — Rasmussen and righthanders Trevor Bauer and Gerrit Cole — had a so-so weekend, combining to throw 19 innings and allow eight runs, but the Bruins bullpen often picked up the slack.

"You have to tip your hat to their pitching staff," Kreuter said. "That is one of the best pitching staffs in the country right there, bar none."

Notes: The homer was UCLA's first of the walk-off variety since February 23, 2008...USC center fielder Mike O'Neill's hit streak ended at 13 with his 0-for-4 performance Sunday...With two strikeouts in Sunday's game, the younger Kreuter notched his way to the fourth-highest single-season strikeout total in USC history. Kreuter now has 54 strikeouts in 126 at-bats on the season.

Baseball: Trojans sweep visiting Utes

May, 9, 2010
5/09/10
5:35
PM PT
Three up, three down for USC.

The streaking Trojans (23-24) managed their first sweep of the 2010 season with a three-game thrashing of visiting Utah, concluding with Sunday's 11-6 win at Dedeaux Field. USC got three hits from catcher Kevin Roundtree and two hits from three others to break open the game, posting four runs each in the third and eighth innings.

Logan Odom started on the mound but exited early after giving up four runs, meaning reliever Chad Smith was called on for the second consecutive day. The sophomore delivered once again, firing 4 1/3 one-run innings to earn his second win in as many games.

First baseman Ricky Oropesa hit his 13th homer of the season for USC and reached base twice. Shortstop Joe De Pinto hit a big three-run homer in the eighth to break open the game.

Utah (19-24) had an opportunity to pile on the runs in the top of the first inning but came up empty with the bases loaded and no outs. After left fielder Gavin Green tripled to lead off the game and scored on a throwing error by USC's Ryan Bast, the Utes put together a walk, an error and a bunt single to load the bases. But Odom struck out the next two Utah players and forced right fielder Rick Cornu to ground into a fielder's choice.

Just one day after hitting a walk-off double to win the game for USC, cleanup hitter Cade Kreuter struggled, going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. The freshman designated hitter now has 47 strikeouts in 114 at-bats on the season.

The Trojans have won four straight and six of their last seven games -- their best such streaks of the year -- and look to face Long Beach State on Wednesday in an attempt to reach .500 for the first time since April 9.

Baseball: Kreuter's walk-off double wins it in the ninth

May, 8, 2010
5/08/10
7:51
PM PT


USC continues to find ways to win.

Tuesday against UC Irvine, the Trojans used a ninth-inning rally for a come-from-behind win. Friday, they used a strong pitching performance from Ben Mount and timely hitting to take the first game of a weekend series against visiting Utah.

And Saturday, the streaking Trojans got a big hit from a freshman to take back the lead they had surrendered and beat the Utes (19-23) in dramatic fashion.

Freshman designated hitter Cade Kreuter, the son of USC coach Chad Kreuter, smacked an RBI double to left with two on and one out in the bottom of the ninth to give USC a 6-5 victory, the Trojans' third consecutive win and five in their last six tries. Kreuter came to the plate after Utah reliever Stephen Streich walked leadoff hitter Mike O'Neill to start the ninth and intentionally walked USC big bopper Ricky Oropesa. Streich got the count to 0-and-2 before Kreuter fought off a pitch and proceeded to deliver the game-winning hit.

Junior right-hander Chris Mezger started the game for USC and went eight strong innings, giving up three earned runs. He cruised through the first four innings but ran into trouble in the fifth when four singles, two wild pitches and an error gave the Utes four runs. Mezger didn't give up an extra-base hit on the day; righthander Chad Smith came in and pitched a perfect ninth to earn his third win.

The Trojans (22-24) have an opportunity to extend their streak to a season-high four games Sunday, when they conclude their series with Utah at 12 p.m. at Dedeaux Field. A key midweek battle with Long Beach State then awaits them Wednesday after the university's finals conclude.

Baseball: Trojans get big victory

May, 4, 2010
5/04/10
10:53
PM PT
It'd been a long time coming, but USC baseball coach Chad Kreuter finally earned his first win against his father-in-law Tuesday, as the Kreuter-led Trojans topped Mike Gillespie's powerful UC Irvine team, 8-6.

The Trojans trailed entering the ninth inning but put together only their second final-inning comeback of the season to earn the victory and give Kreuter his first win in five tries against Gillespie. After second baseman Joe De Pinto tied the score with an RBI single, first baseman Ricky Oropesa hit a two-run homer to put USC (20-24) on top.

USC led 2-1 and 5-3 but relinquished the lead when the Anteaters put together a mini-rally in their half of the eighth inning. But right-hander Chad Smith came on in the ninth and induced a game-ending double play ball from UCI's Sean Madigan to close out the game and earn the save. Reliever Ryan Cabral (1-1) got the win for USC and Christian Bergman (5-3) took the loss for UCI (27-15).

Oropesa, a sophomore, has hit a Pac-10 high 12 homers on the season. He hit 13 a year ago while earning Collegiate Baseball/Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American honors. The win also ended an eight-game losing streak for the Trojans against the Anteaters

Baseball: No. 21 Oregon State tops USC in extras, 4-1

April, 2, 2010
4/02/10
2:21
PM PT
The Trojans were thisclose to beating No. 21 Oregon State on Thursday in the first game of a key Pac-10 weekend series at Dedeaux Field — thisclose being about two inches.

With the score tied 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth, USC (13-13, 1-3) had a runner on second with two outs and pinch-hitter Keith Castillo at the plate. Facing Oregon State reliever Kevin Rhoderick, Castillo hit a fast-moving grounder in the gap between Beaver second baseman Keith Jennette and first baseman Jared Norris.

USC head coach Chad Kreuter, in his typical post as third base coach, immediately began to wave Matt Hart home from second base, as it looked like the ball would find its way into the outfield and Hart would have the opportunity to score the game-winning run.

But there was no such luck for the Trojans, as Jennette made a stunning dive to his left, cornered the ball in his glove and threw to first to end the inning. And instead of a 2-1 victory, USC was left with a disappointing 4-1 loss in 10 innings, as the Beavers — winners of two of the last four national titles in college baseball — scored three runs in the top of the tenth inning to break open the game.

"That's baseball," Kreuter said afterward. "We did what we needed to do, we just needed a break somewhere along the line and they ended up getting it in the tenth there."

Joe De Pinto stole home in the third inning for the Trojans' only run of the night. The feat was a fairly remarkable straight steal — and it was made even more remarkable by the fact that the Trojans' hitter at the plate, big bopper Ricky Oropesa, is left-handed.

Kreuter said he noticed that Oregon State's Greg Peavey was slow to the plate early on and called for the steal as soon as De Pinto got to third. Kreuter said De Pinto "got cold feet" the first time he called the steal, but used the second time to study some of Peavey's tendencies. Then, on the third call, De Pinto took off — and scored.

"I thought he did a great job of getting down there," Kreuter said. "And it wasn't even close."

De Pinto was one of two Trojans to collect two hits on the night, the other being third baseman Matt Hart. Collectively, USC amassed just seven hits while striking out 10 times against Peavey.

The Beavers had only nine hits on the night but got crucial tenth-inning hits from Parker Berberet and Rob Folsom. Peavey also pitched a strong seven innings, allowing just six baserunners. USC got a solid five innings from starter Kevin Couture (five innings, one run) and impressive relief from Chad Smith, who pitched five innings and didn't allow a run until the tenth

Kreuter talked afterward about the disappointment of suffering another close loss, the thought process behind De Pinto's steal, and more:

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