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COLLEGE BASEBALL ERIC STEPHENS

Peavey Experiences Power Surge at USC

April 26, 2002|ERIC STEPHENS

On college baseball's biggest stage last year, USC's Bill Peavey realized that he could be a big-time performer.

In the Trojans' College World Series opener against Georgia, the immense first baseman hit two home runs in an 11-5 victory. In his first CWS at-bat, Peavey hit a pitch from Jeremy Brown well over a 30-foot wall in straightaway center field.

USC didn't win another game in the tournament and Peavey didn't get another hit. But the blast left an impression.

"Oh, it was definitely one of the highlights of my career," he said. "I hit that one pretty good."

Peavey has been making a big impression on Pacific 10 Conference pitchers lately. The senior took apart Washington State last weekend with nine hits, including three home runs and three doubles, in 11 at-bats. The performance earned him national player of the week. He added another home run Tuesday in a 10-8 victory over No. 25 San Diego State.

Peavey is hitting .390 with 11 home runs and 51 runs batted in, surpassing last year's totals of seven homers and 48 RBIs.

USC Coach Mike Gillespie has wondered why it has taken the 6-foot-4, 245-pound Peavey longer to become the slugger he was expected to be when he arrived on campus. "He came in as this big guy that supposedly had all this power and you only saw it from time to time," Gillespie said. "But confidence does a lot for a person. I think what he did in Omaha did wonders for him."

Peavey was determined to have a big senior season. He worked out rigorously last summer in his hometown of Brisbane, a suburb of San Francisco. He maintains his routine during the season, often arriving at Dedeaux Field in the morning to do agility drills.

"I felt that I was a little big," Peavey said. "I was overweight. I needed to drop 15 to 20 pounds and I think I picked up a lot more flexibility."

Peavey went undrafted out of high school but he is playing his way into the June amateur draft. Gillespie is impressed.

"He's been a tireless worker in the weight room," the veteran coach said. "I think he deserves a ton of credit for that."

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Cal State Northridge (29-13, 9-3) is back in the Top 25 for the first time since the preseason. The No. 23 Matadors will try to stay there in a big three-game Big West Conference series at No. 11 Cal State Fullerton (29-12, 10-2).

Northridge is one game behind first-place Fullerton and a half game behind second-place Long Beach State. Tonight's series opener features Matador left-hander Bill Murphy (8-2, 2.85) against Fullerton right-hander Wes Littleton (7-2, 1.46).

Both teams are hot. Fullerton has won seven in a row and 15 of 18. Northridge has won 10 of 12.

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No. 15 Long Beach (26-12, 8-1) got ready for its Big West series against UC Irvine (25-18, 6-3) by pounding San Diego, 21-3, Wednesday night at Blair Field.... Pepperdine (22-21, 11-5) opens a three-game West Coast Conference series today at Portland. The Waves, who have won 11 of 16, are one game ahead of Gonzaga in the Coast Division standings.... UCLA (18-24, 4-5) plays host to Washington State for three in a meeting of lowly Pac-10 teams.... UC Riverside (23-19, 3-6) is at home against Pacific this weekend. Loyola Marymount (16-25, 9-8) hosts Santa Clara in a WCC series.

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Fullerton reliever Chad Cordero is among the first 19 players who have been selected to try out for Team USA in June. The national team will be chosen from 35 to 40 players on June 24. Cordero is 4-1 with 11 saves and 56 strikeouts in 401/3 innings.... Baseball America chose Irvine pitcher Glenn Swanson to its midseason freshman All-America team. Cordero and Fullerton teammate Shane Costa were selected to the sophomore team, and Murphy was included on the junior team.... Costa, the Big West batting leader with a .401 average, has a 21-game hitting streak that is third-longest in Titan history.... USC started this week with three batters among the top five in the Pac-10. Peavey, catcher Alberto Concepcion and designated hitter Joey Metropoulous all were hitting .373 or better.

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