USC: Matt Foat

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 tops No. 19 Stanford in series opener

March, 27, 2010
3/27/10
5:15
PM PT
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 falls in extras to Oklahoma State

February, 27, 2010
2/27/10
12:10
AM PT
In the first game of this weekend's inaugural Dodgertown Classic, the Trojans battled — and battled hard, until what would've been their last at-bat — to stay close with visiting Oklahoma State.

But in the end, their efforts weren't enough. The Cowboys put together a methodical rally in their half of the 11th inning and beat USC, 6-4, in 11 innings.

“They weren’t anything we hadn’t seen before,” said USC right-hander Andrew Triggs, who started the game and lasted 5 1/3 innings. “They didn’t wow us, but they got the job done.”

Down 4-2 in the ninth, USC first had to rally to push the game into extra innings. With two outs and two runners in scoring position, second baseman Joe De Pinto (two for six, two RBIs) hit a two-run double to tie the score. The Trojans would strand him at second, though, and their offense grew stagnant for the duration of the game.

“Oh, I thought it was over from there,” Triggs said. “I thought there was no chance we wouldn’t win that game. It’s disappointing, especially with how close we got and how much it drug out in the 11th."

USC coach Chad Kreuter said his team's offense wasn't the same after the ninth.

“What happens when you get into extra innings is guys start trying to take real big swings — trying to be the hero,” Kreuter said. “All of the sudden, the guys’ approaches changed.”

But the collective mood after the game, when each of the players came out to lay down a tarp on the field, was still positive. Triggs said he was impressed with how the Trojans continued to battle despite being down for much of the game.

“Over the course of the year, we’re going to have a few more games like that," he said. "But I think if we keep that same mentality, we’re gonna come out on top more times than we’re gonna lose."

A bit of a stat roll from the game: USC's Matt Foat and Matt Hartcontinued their torrid start, combining to go three for 10 with a triple and a homer. Oklahoma State's starter — left-hander Tyler Lyons— went a crafty seven innings, mixing up a mid-80s fastball and solid breaking pitch to confuse the USC hitters.

Said Triggs: "That’s senior savvy right there. He’s not gonna do anything that’s gonna blow up the radar guns or overpower you, but he worked well with what we had."

A highlight in Friday's game came early on when Oklahoma State's Dusty Harvard made a spectacular diving play on a deep drive by Foat to center field. At the time he caught the ball, Harvard appeared to be almost completely horizontal.

The Trojans were more than complimentary of the catch afterward.

"That was the best play I've ever seen in my life," De Pinto said. "He was flying."

Next up for USC is a Saturday 6:30 p.m. game against Vanderbilt. The Commodores have been a noted college baseball powerhouse in past years, but Kreuter said his team wouldn't be making any adjustments.

“There’s no need to change anything,” Kreuter said. “We just have to get better at the little things.”

Triggs, a native of Nashville, Tenn., said he often attended Vanderbilt games growing up and was looking forward to seeing his hometown school.

Baseball: Oklahoma State on top through six

February, 26, 2010
2/26/10
11:42
PM PT
It was a certifiable pitcher's duel through five innings here at Dedeaux Field, but visiting Oklahoma State managed to break through off of USC's Andrew Triggs and score three runs in the top half of the sixth inning.

The Cowboys lead 3-0 after six innings.

It's Oklahoma State's season opener, and ace lefthander Tyler Lyons has started off the season with flair. He has been dominant on the mound, giving up only three hits in six strong innings so far.

Triggs had been equally successful until the sixth, but the Cowboys chased him with a walk followed by three consecutive hits. Left-hander Brad Douthit replaced him.

Highlights so far include a remarkable catch by Oklahoma State center fielder Dusty Harvard off a Matt Foat drive. Harvard was in the air for a solid second and fully stretched out his body to make the catch roughly 320 feet from home plate. Foat, playing left field, followed it up with a sliding catch in foul territory later on.

USC's best opportunity to score came in the fifth inning, when third baseman Matt Hart led off with a triple. The next batter, shortstop Taylor Wrenn, proceeded to ground one to the right side of the infield , but OSU first baseman Dean Green threw home to get Hart at the plate.

Baseball: USC takes two out of three from Cal Poly

February, 21, 2010
2/21/10
10:33
PM PT
USC baseball's season-opening series in San Luis Obispo was "very successful," coach Chad Kreuter said Sunday.

The Trojans managed victories on both Friday and Sunday over Cal Poly, despite falling behind early in each game.

Friday, starting hurler Andrew Triggs gave up three quick runs in the first inning, putting USC in a deep hole. But the Trojans fought back slowly but surely, taking the lead on a bases-loaded walk by senior outfielder Mike O'Neill in the fifth inning and never relinquishing it.

And Sunday, sophomore infielder Ricky Oropesa broke a 4-4 tie with a solo home run to lead off the ninth inning, opening the floodgates in what would become a 9-4 victory for the Trojans.

'There are some big hits within this club,” Kreuter said by phone on the team's long, loud bus ride home from San Luis Obispo. “There are some guys with extraordinary talent that are capable of stepping up at any time.”

Asked if he expected the standout performances of newcomers Matt Foat and Matt Hart, who combined for a .462 average, 12 hits and 7 RBI over the weekend, Kreuter laughed.

“That’s good recruiting,” he said. “We recruited those guys to come in to be immediate contributors and replace some of the guys we lost in the draft.”

"We're really excited about both Matts."

USC did lose six players to the draft after last season, including shortstop Grant Green and catcher/pitcher Robert Stock. But while many analysts predicted the Trojans would experience a drop-off from their 28-28 record in 2009, Kreuter disagrees.

Kreuter, in his fourth season at USC, feels like he's assembled something this year he hadn't in years prior: a team with a collective identity.

Whether that identity results in anything remains to be seen — but in the meantime, "there’s a lot of character and a lot of fight in our ballclub," Kreuter said.

USC has a packed schedule in the coming week. A home game against Loyola Marymount comes Tuesday, an exhibition against the Japanese Rikkyo University is Wednesday, and big games against Oklahoma State and Vanderbilt are scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

And there's the all-important Sunday game against UCLA.

Kreuter said the plan is to approach the three weekend games as one series, and thus play accordingly.

"We want to get two of them," he said. "Or even three."

Notes: Two players with Trojan connections had memorable debuts over the weekend. Kreuter's son, the freshman Cade, hit a key two-run homer in the eighth inning of Sunday's game to give the Trojans a 4-3 lead, and catcher Richard Stock — also a freshman and the younger brother of Robert — hit the first pitch he saw in college "roughly 500 feet" for a home run in a pinch-hit appearance Saturday...Sunday's game against UCLA will be held at 2 p.m. at Dodger Stadium as part of the inaugural Dodgertown Classic.

Preview: USC at Washington State

February, 20, 2010
2/20/10
1:31
PM PT
If Thursday's game against Washington was the good kindof rematch for USC, then Saturday afternoon's rematch with Washington State is the vengeful kind.

See, when the Cougars and Trojans played last month, USC succumbed to an improbable second-half comeback from WSU and lost, 67-60. At the time, USC forward Alex Stepheson called it "pretty bad," memorably shaking his head while looking down.

But, as Stepheson will tell you, the tables have turned.

Since that game, the Trojans (16-9, 8-5) have won five of seven games — including their last four. The Cougars (15-11, 5-9) have lost six of seven.

But that doesn't make USC coach Kevin O'Neill any less worried about today's 2 p.m. contest at the Wallis Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum in Pullman, Wash.

The Cougars still have Klay Thompson. They still have Reggie Moore.

And combined, that duo's good for an average of 34.3 points per game — enough to keep any coach worried.

In January, the WSU duo had 41 of their team's 67 points. At the time, O'Neill called Moore the best point guard in the Pac-10.

Both Moore and Thompson struggled in the Cougars' 20-point loss to UCLA on Thursday, together recording just 19 points, but WSU did get 10 points from forward DeAngelo Casto.

And Casto may well be the key to this game. Averaging 14 points in his last four games, the 6-foot-8, 229-pound forward is the closest thing to an inside threat the Cougars offer.

While Cougars coach Ken Bone frequently runs a 4-guard offense, he can only do so if Casto manages to limit USC's Stepheson and Nikola Vucevic down low — and score some himself.

We'll see. No television today, but we'll have halftime and postgame updates.

Notes: We profiled USC baseball in this space yesterday, and the Trojans' first game against Cal Poly was an overwhelming success, as starter Andrew Triggs went seven strong innings and designated hitter Matt Foatwent 4-for-5 with 4 RBI. USC won 9-4 and will be back facing the Mustangs again tonight at 6 p.m...Meanwhile, USC's appearance before the NCAA Infractions Committee in Tempe, Ariz. is set to conclude today. The Los Angeles Times reports that the focus of today's proceedings are centered around the basketball program. Former USC head coach Tim Floyd, who resigned last year, is in attendance alongside one of his attorneys.

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