The Sports Illustrated cover jinx has nothing on the spell cast upon those unlucky enough to grace the cover of this season’s UC Riverside baseball media guide.
Of the seven Highlander seniors featured on the front of the brochure, five have suffered season-ending injuries and one has quit the team--perhaps because he feared for his health.
Pitchers Randy Jackson (elbow injury), Richard Pickowitz (elbow) and Craig Riesterer (knee), outfielder Pete Weber (ankle) and catcher Brian Carricaburu (shoulder) have been lost. The only senior left unhurt is designated hitter Dan Crouse.
“I just cross my fingers and hope I’m not going to be the next one,” Crouse said. “In our last game, a line drive was hit into the dugout and it just missed my head. I walk softly now.”
Matt Davis, a junior shortstop, was leading the team in hitting--which qualified him as a leading candidate for next season’s cover--when he sustained a season-ending broken collar-bone on Monday.
Riverside, the only Division II team taking part in its Riverside Baseball Invitational this week, is 11-17 overall after an 8-7 victory over Washington State on Thursday, and is 5-9 in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn.
In the big time: The Big West Conference bills itself as a “A Rising Star.”
And while that may not be true for every sport, it’s proving prophetic in baseball.
As Big West teams prepare to open conference play today, five of the eight members are ranked among the nation’s top 20 by Baseball America and the top 25 by Collegiate Baseball--more than any conference in the country.
The conference, formerly the Pacific Coast Athletic Assn., has been dominated in recent years by Fresno State (ranked 18th by Baseball America) and Cal State Fullerton (19th). But Cal State Long Beach (13th), San Jose State (17th), Nevada Las Vegas (20th) and UC Santa Barbara could challenge for the title. UC Irvine and Pacific figure to be competitive.
“I don’t think anyone is going to run away with it,” said Fresno State Coach Bob Bennett, whose team was 56-12 last season and won the PCAA title with a 20-1 record. “It’s going to be tough one because Long Beach and San Jose State have really put together a good package this year.”
Said Santa Barbara Coach Al Ferrer, whose team won the conference title in 1986: “A lot of people think some of these teams are pretenders, but I don’t because they’ve gone too well, too long. In the past, the team that won it did it with just a couple of losses. This year, a 15-6 record might win it, which is unheard of in this conference.”
Talented trio: Fresno State is led by juniors Tom Goodwin, Steve Hosey and Ed Zosky--all of whom are projected as first-round selections in the June draft.
Goodwin, an All-American who led the nation with 62 stolen bases last season and was an outfielder on the U.S. Olympic team that won the gold medal in Seoul, South Korea, last summer, has a 19-game hitting streak and is batting .364 with four home runs and 28 steals.
Zosky, a preseason All-American shortstop from Whittier, is batting .410 with two home runs and 23 runs batted in.
Hosey, an outfielder who batted .365 with 13 homers and 73 RBIs last season, has recovered from a slow start and is batting .313.
Michigan is the only school to have three players from the same team selected in the first round. In 1979, the Dodgers took pitchers Steve Howe and Steve Perry, and the Detroit Tigers chose outfielder Rick Leach.
Pac-10 standings: Arizona State has completed the first half of its Pacific 10 Conference’s Southern Division schedule, and the fifth-ranked Sun Devils, not unexpectedly, are in first place.
Arizona State, 30-6 in Pac-10 play since last season’s 2-7 start, is 11-4 in the conference.
Arizona, ranked seventh, is in second place at 10-5, followed by ninth-ranked USC (6-5), 11th-ranked Cal (5-6), two-time defending national champion Stanford (3-9) and UCLA (3-9).
On the road, again: Illinois, under former Fullerton coach Augie Garrido, has won 15 consecutive games while getting off to a 17-3 start, pushing the Fighting Illini into the top 25 this week without the benefit of playing a home game.
“We go to where the weather is,” said Garrido, whose team recently returned from a Florida swing and opens play in the Big Ten this weekend at Ohio State.
“It’s a good experience for these kids to get to other parts of the country.”
Sean Mulligan, a freshman catcher from Rubidoux High in Riverside, is batting .342, with eight home runs and 29 RBIs. Bubba Smith, a freshman right-hander from Rubidoux, is 5-0 with a 1.93 ERA.
Jason Moler, a freshman third baseman from Esperanza High in Anaheim, is batting .362, and Will Parsons, who transferred from Harbor College, is batting .365.
College Baseball Notes Pepperdine’s Sean Casey came within one out of a no-hitter in the Waves’ 9-0 victory over Pacific last weekend. Casey, a junior right-hander, is 5-1 with an ERA of 1.93. Matt Howard leads Pepperdine with a .378 average. Scott Shockey, a senior from El Toro, is batting .333 with five homers and 31 RBIs. . . . Rick Allen is batting .407 to lead Loyola Marymount. He also has six homers and 36 RBIs in 32 games. Travis Tarchione is batting .367 with seven homers and 31 RBIs. Kalani Bush is 6-1 with a 3.25 ERA. . . . Rex Peters of Cal State Fullerton is batting .346 and has hit safely in 26 of the Titans’ 28 games. Mate Borgogno, a sophomore transfer from Nebraska who went to Nogales High, leads Fullerton with a .374 average. David Staton has six home runs and 28 RBIs.
UCLA’s Robbie Katzaroff, a junior outfielder, leads the Pac-10 in batting with a .411 average. . . . In USC’s two-game sweep of California last weekend, sophomore pitcher Phil Kendall improved his record to 4-0 and lowered his ERA to 2.20 with a 4-0 shutout against the Bears that included a career-high eight strikeouts. USC center fielder John Jackson went five for 12 and had five RBIs. . . . California’s Mike Harrison, a freshman outfielder, is batting .348 and has hit in 22 of 23 games. Right-hander Mark Juhas, a junior from Arcadia, is 3-1 with a 2.47 ERA.
Fresno State’s Steve Vondran, a senior catcher from Upland High School and Mt. San Antonio College, is batting a team-high .427, with nine home runs and 42 RBIs. . . . Dave Tellers of San Jose State, a junior right-hander who transferred from Rancho Santiago College, is 10-0 with a 2.95 ERA. Donnie Rea, a sophomore left-hander from Agoura, is 6-2 with a 2.64 ERA and recently had a streak of 20 scoreless innings. . . .Senior Kevin Lofthus of Nevada Las Vegas, a designated-hitter from San Diego, is batting .421, has a 25-game hitting streak and leads the nation with 16 home runs. He also has 43 RBIs. Donovan Osborne, a sophomore left-hander, is 8-1 with a 2.82 ERA and has 80 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings. . . . Greg Hayes of Cal State Long Beach is 5-0 with a 2.10 ERA. He also has eight saves.
Rod Stillwell, from Thousand Oaks, leads Arkansas with a .425 average. . . . Chuck Graham of the University of San Diego, from La Habra, is batting .392 and has set a West Coast Athletic Conference record with 50 career doubles. Junior right-hander Pat Fitzsimons from Los Alamitos is 6-1 with a 2.21 ERA. . . . Mark McWherter of Hawaii, a senior first baseman from El Segundo High, is batting .395. . . . Brigham Young shortstop Jeff Howes, from Harbor College, is batting .375 for the Cougars. Burt Call, an outfielder from Mission Viejo, is batting .377.
Mike Kelly of Arizona State, an outfielder from Los Alamitos, has nine home runs and 38 RBIs and is on a pace to eclipse Barry Bonds’ freshman records of 11 homers and 54 RBIs. Kelly has seven game-winning hits--four of on home runs, three in extra innings. . . . Stanford (14-17 overall) has hit just 17 home runs this season. The Cardinal has not had a losing season since 1964, when it was 20-24. Stanford pitcher Mike Mussina, who has missed two weeks with an elbow injury, is expected back next week against USC. Mussina is 2-3 with 51 strikeouts and three walks in 41 1/3 innings.
After dropping two of three games to Arizona State last weekend, Arizona travels to Minneapolis this week for the Pillsbury Tournament with Minnesota, Oklahoma State and Georgia Tech in the Metrodome. Catcher Alan Zinter leads the Wildcats with a .369 average, 11 homers and 47 RBIs. Scott Erickson is 11-1 with 2.73 ERA and has eight complete games in 10 starts . . . Upcoming on ESPN: April 2--Oklahoma State-Minnesota (5 p.m.); April 9--Arizona State-Stanford (5 p.m.), and April 10--Arizona-Stanford (noon).