USC: Joe De Pinto

Baseball: Trojans lose top two signees

August, 16, 2011
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).

Two ex-Trojans sign with MLB teams

June, 20, 2011
Two USC baseball products selected by major-league organizations earlier this month in the 2011 MLB draft have signed contracts to begin their pro careers.

Right-hander Logan Odom, a 6-6 late bloomer who only started pitching in junior college, signed with the Los Angeles Angels on Friday after being selected in the eighth round. Second baseman Joe De Pinto, taken in the 21st round by the Chicago White Sox, signed Thursday.

Signing bonuses were not released for either player, but draftees selected after the fifth round are typically not given more than a maximum of $150,000 to sign.

The two were both seniors and were USC's only two seniors selected. Players with no college eligibility remaining typically sign quickly after the draft because of a lack of leverage, whereas juniors and high school players tend to wait it out some more.

12 other players with ties to USC were selected in the draft, five current Trojans and seven players who signed letters of intent to enroll at USC in the fall. All of those remain unsigned, but most, if not all, of USC's juniors are expected to sign with the major-league organizations that selected them. The most important decision in the coming months for the Trojans' long-term hopes will be that of Travis Harrison -- the Tustin High third baseman was selected in the supplemental first round, 50th overall, by the Minnesota Twins and will have to pass up a lot of money to attend school in the fall. The 50th pick in 2010 signed for $1.3 million.

USC's top pick, first baseman Ricky Oropesa, stands to net somewhere in the range of a $250,000 bonus as a supplemental third round selection of the San Francisco Giants.

The deadline for players to sign is Aug. 15.

Baseball: Smith, De Pinto and Triggs all taken Tuesday

June, 7, 2011
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: Trojans get big victory on Senior Day

May, 30, 2010
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 upsets visiting UC Irvine

May, 26, 2010
Had USC coach Chad Kreuter known he could pitch this way, Trojans sophomore right-hander Brandon Garcia probably would have started more games this season for pitching-starved USC.

Garcia started only his second game of the season Tuesday against UC Irvine and pitched marvelously, going 7 2/3 innings and giving up just three hits and one run to the Anteaters — a start that propelled USC to a 8-1 upset of Irvine before 188 fans at Dedeaux Field.

Kreuter said he has seen Garcia mature into a likely weekend starter for next season over the last month, including a six-inning, three-run start against New Mexico State a week ago. He has progressed from a thrower to a pitcher, Kreuter said.

"He pitched in this start," the fourth-year coach said. "He didn't just go out there and throw. He was adding and subtracting with his fastball and changeup, just getting a real feel out there."

Garcia walked the first batter he faced to start off the game and three others on the night but succeeded multiple times in limiting the damage incurred. USC also played nearly-spotless defense for the first time in recent memory, playing the first eight innings error-free until shortstop Joe De Pinto's throwing error in the ninth.

On offense, the Trojans (26-31) managed to post the "crooked numbers" that Kreuter has emphasized so frequently, scoring three runs in fourth inning, one in the seventh and four in the eighth. First baseman Ricky Oropesa went three for five with an RBI to raise his average to .342 on the season, and right fielder Garret Houts went two for three with a double and a walk hitting out of the ninth spot in the order.

USC's first runs came after Irvine starter Nick Hoover and reliever Andy Lines combined to walk the bases loaded in the fourth inning and freshman center fielder Alex Glenn drove two runners in with a single up the middle and Houts grounded an RBI infield single down the third-base line. In the seventh, Houts scored on an RBI single from De Pinto.

The Anteaters (34-19) issued eight walks on the mound on the night, five of which came around to score. Hoover allowed just one run but lasted only 3 2/3 innings, and UCI coach Mike Gillespie had to turn to his bullpen five times on the night.

"That's the old adage of baseball — you don't walk guys," Kreuter said. "The walks do kill you. Walks just prolong innings.

"Those things happen; that's how we've gotten beat all year and it's nice to see our guys turn it around."

Combined with an 8-6 victory at Irvine earlier this month, USC swept the Anteaters in a season series for the first time since 2003. The Trojans now turn to face Washington for a weekend series at Dedeaux Field to close out the 2010 season.

Notes: Kreuter said pregame that five of his pitchers are finished for the season due to injuries, including redshirt sophomore righthander Andrew Triggs, who has a tired shoulder. ... The USC pitching staff hit a season-high four batters on the night, two by Garcia and two by reliever Logan Odom.

Baseball: Walk-off homer gives UCLA the series sweep

May, 16, 2010
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
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: Trojans get big victory

May, 4, 2010
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

Two losses for USC baseball

April, 10, 2010
Pac-10 play isn't exactly going well for coach Chad Kreuter and the Trojans. USC is 2-6 through eight conference games, including blowout losses Friday and Saturday to California at Dedeaux Field.

Saturday, the Trojans fell 7-1 after the Bears scored three unearned runs in the fifth inning to break a scoreless tie. Friday, USC committed a season-high six errors and gave up 18 hits as Cal (18-10, 4-3) earned a 16-9 victory.

Defense has been the team's undoing. Sophomore righthander Ben Mount, who started Saturday, was solid through four innings, scattering three hits, but unraveled after the errors in the fifth and exited after recording one out in the seventh. His final line was 6 1/3 innings and seven runs — but only four earned.

USC's only run of Saturday's game came in the seventh inning, when junior infielder Joe De Pinto's RBI fielder's choice scored shortstop Adam Landecker from third.

Friday starter Kevin Couture had a nightmarish day on the mound, giving up nine runs (seven earned) in 2 1/3 innings. Kreuter was forced to turn to six relievers to eat up innings, but none found sustained success. Junior Chris Mezger, who had been USC's most effective reliever this season, gave up two runs while finishing out the third inning and pitching the fourth.

The Trojans had 14 hits Friday, with eight of nine starters recording at least one hit. Junior third baseman Matt Hart had three hits and an RBI, and sophomore first baseman Ricky Oropesa had a three-run homer in the first inning that helped stake USC out to a 4-1 lead. The Trojans did have one more big inning — a five-run seventh, sparked by a three-run homer from shortstop Taylor Wrenn — but it wasn't enough to unseat the Bears, who scored 13 unanswered runs between the first and seventh innings.

USC has one more shot at Cal — Sunday at 1 p.m. — before a big three-game series at No. 1 Arizona State next weekend.

Baseball: Trojans fall to No. 21 Oregon State in nail-biter

April, 3, 2010
Another close game, another loss for the Trojans -- this one a 4-3 defeat to No. 21 Oregon State.

USC (14-14, 2-4) trailed 4-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth, but the Trojans caught fire, rallying to score a run and load the bases with two outs for leadoff hitter Joe De Pinto. De Pinto, a second baseman who is hitting .295 on the season, fell behind in the count, 0-2, but proceeded to foul off pitches left and right from Oregon State left-hander Kraig Sitton.

De Pinto eventually succumbed to a well-placed slider on the inside of the plate, giving the Beavers the 4-3 win and the series victory in front of a larger-than-normal crowd of 621 at Dedeaux Field. The loss means the Trojans have lost four out of six games in Pac-10 conference play by a total of seven runs. This whole close-but-no-cigar thing is getting old for USC coach Chad Kreuter and his team.

"We're close," said Kreuter, who praised his team's ninth-inning at-bats but also said his hitters failed to properly work the count early on. "But close doesn't make it feel any better."

Oregon State (18-6, 2-1) used an unconvential way to score its first runs. In the first inning, Beavers center fielder Adalberto Santos reached base on a bunt single. Then, left fielder Michael Miller proceeded to knock a ball down the left-field line that got stuck under the tarp in the outfield. By the time USC left fielder Matt Foat got to it, both Santos and Miller had scores and the Beavers had an early 2-0 lead.

Offense was again hard to come by for the Trojans, who totaled only six hits. Designated hitter Keith Castillo and right fielder Alex Sherrod each had two hits, but USC's only runs before the ninth came on an RBI groundout and an OSU wild pitch. Fourteen consecutive Trojans were retired between the second and seventh innings as Oregon State starter Sam Gaviglio proved effective in his first start of the season, giving up only four hits and walking none in 5 1/3 innings.

"We were flat," Kreuter said. "And when we did score, we didn't stay on it."

Kreuter talked in more detail about the way the game ended, the improbable inside-the-parker, and what his team can do to change its fortunes in the rest of Pac-10 play:

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

April, 2, 2010
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:

Baseball tops No. 19 Stanford in series opener

March, 27, 2010
The Trojans are in Palo Alto, Calif. for the weekend, with a key three-game series against No. 19 Stanford on the schedule. In the opener of conference play Friday, USC managed to dispatch the Cardinal with relative ease, earning a 13-8 victory on the strength of a big day from shortstop Taylor Wrenn.

Wrenn, a sophomore transfer from Manatee College (Fla.), had the eventual game-winning two-run single in the sixth inning that gave the Trojans the lead and recorded three hits, two RBI and four runs scored on the night.

The top four hitters in the Trojans' lineup — Wrenn, Joe De Pinto, Ricky Oropesa and Matt Foat — went a combined 10-for-16 at the plate with four walks and five RBI. Kevin Couture started on the mound for USC and was chased in the fifth inning after allowing seven runs (five earned). Reliever Shuhei Fujiya picked up for him and pitched three innings to earn his third victory.

USC (12-10, 1-0 Pac-10) plays Stanford again Saturday and Sunday.

Baseball: USC vs. UCLA preview

February, 28, 2010
UCLA might be in great shape heading into the final game of the Dodgertown Classic today at Dodger Stadium, but USC sure isn't.

The Trojans have had a rough week. They beat Loyola Marymount on Tuesday but have fallen in three consecutive games since — including a 10-1 laughter at the hands of Vanderbilt last night.

But today's 2 p.m. start should be different, they say. It's been a focus of this USC team for a long time.

"We’re all looking forward to it," junior second baseman Joe De Pinto said. "I think we’ll be real pumped up.

"Hopefully, we’re not rattled or anything.”

De Pinto, from St. Francis High in La Canada, has a connection to UCLA's slated starter today. Bruin left-hander Rob Rasmussen went to nearby Pasadena Poly High. The two schools are natural rivals, and De Pinto said both he and Rasmussen had made up their minds on schools early on — creating a sense of competition between the two.

Said De Pinto: "I have a little beef with that guy."

Well, USC has a little beef with UCLA. The last time the two schools matched up, last March, the Bruins beat the Trojans 17-2.

On the mound for the Trojans today is senior right-hander Kevin Couture, who gave up three runs in seven innings in his first start of the season against Cal Poly.



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J. Allen27614895.411
J. Davis1295954.64
N. Agholor104131312.612
J. Smith5472413.45