Five Jewels in the Crown: 1971

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USC baseball is celebrating the 40th anniversary of winning five consecutive national championships from 1970-74 under Rod Dedeaux by recognizing the Trojans' dynasty before Saturday's game against Cal (2 p.m. first pitch).

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The "Five Jewels in the Crown" were seen as an impossibility when the streak started as experts predicted parity in college baseball due to the major league draft, increased competition and the inconsistent nature of the sport.  Instead, USC, which had already won five national championships, only asserted its dominance further completing what John Wooden once called maybe "the most remarkable achievement in sports history."   

This week, we'll profile a different jewel in the crown each day. Here is the story of the 1971 team:

The college baseball world was licking its chops. This was the year to stop the Trojans. Gone was the nucleus of the team which had won two of the last three national championships, including a record 51 wins in 1970. 

Gone were All-Americans Brett Strom, Jim Barr, Cal Meier and Dave Kingman.  Gone were All-District selections Dan Stoligrosz and Russ Bennett. 

Yes, this was the year to deny the Trojans a chance to win consecutive national crowns.  And they knew they had better do it this year because the best recruiting class ever assembled was putting on Cardinal and Gold uniforms for the first time.  Junior College All-American Tim Steele was being joined by first round draft choices P Randy Scarbery and SS George Ambrow plus second round selection OF Fred Lynn.

USC stormed through the regular season going 17-0 in the Pac-8 becoming the first team to ever go unbeaten in conference play. The pitching staff, seen as the question mark before the season, set a conference record by tossing 38.1 consecutive scoreless innings.

After suffering an early College World Series loss to Southern Illinois, the Trojans ran off victories over BYU and Tulsa (twice) to setup a championship rematch with the Salukis.  This time, Troy was too much as Steve Busby pitched a complete game, and Frank Alfano and Craig Perkins hit back-to-back homers in a 7-2 win.

1971 Team.jpg

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