USC names Frank Cruz full-time baseball coach
Cruz, 51, was a volunteer assistant at USC in 2009 and 2010. He succeeded Chad Kreuter, who was fired last August after USC finished 28-32 overall and 7-20 in the Pacific 10 Conference, which put the Trojans in last place. The Trojans were 111-117 in four seasons under Kreuter and finished no higher than fifth in the Pac-10.
Under Cruz, USC is 20-28 overall and 10-11 in the Pac-10 with six conference games remaining. The Trojans are two games out of fourth place.
Last week USC won a series against Arizona State for the first time since 2004.
"I believe Frank is the right fit to lead our baseball program," Haden said in a statement. "He has the character and integrity that we seek, he knows USC and the landscape of college baseball and he has shown that he can put together winning teams. I have seen marked progress with our team throughout this season and I like how competitive it has been.
"USC is the most successful college baseball program in the country and we need to get back to that championship level. Having been a part of our success in the past, Frank has a vision on how to return USC to national prominence and to do so by winning in the right way. He knows he has his work cut out for him next year because we lose the nucleus of this team, but I have been impressed with his ability as a coach, teacher, leader and recruiter."
Cruz was a full-time assistant under former coach Mike Gillespie from 1993 to 1996. He was head coach at Loyola Marymount for 12 seasons, compiling a 329-356-3 record. He was not retained after the 2008 season and then joined Kreuter's staff.
"I am honored to be offered this opportunity, and I am humbled to be following in the footsteps of USC coaching legends Rod Dedeaux and Mike Gillespie," Cruz said in a statement. "I want to thank Pat Haden and the USC administration for having the trust in me to lead the USC baseball program. And I especially want to thank our current players and staff for helping make this happen with their commitment to getting USC baseball back among the elite programs in the country. Going forward, we will build on the competitive atmosphere that we put in place this season."
-- Gary Klein
Photo: USC logo.