Baseball

    USC's 12 National Championships

    USC has won 12 NCAA baseball titles, more than any other school. Arizona State is second with five NCAA crowns.

    The first Trojan national championship came in 1948. At the second-ever College World Series (CWS) in Kalamazoo, Mich., USC battled Yale in a 2-out-of-3-game confrontation for the title. Troy won the first game, 3-1. USC then lost, 8-3, the next day, with the championship game starting immediately afterwards. The hero was second baseman Art Mazmanian, who went 3-for-3 with a sacrifice and scored the run in the first inning that gave USC a lead it never relinquished on the way to a 9-2 championship victory. Dick Bishop scattered 10 hits to go the distance and get the victory, while adding two hits of his own. Third baseman Bill Lillie had two RBI on two hits, and centerfielder Gordon Jones added two RBI. For Yale, first baseman and future President George Bush had a double in four at-bats in the final game.

    The next USC title came 10 years later when Troy went 5-1 at the 1958 CWS, losing only to Holy Cross, a team USC later beat in the series. In one of the most exciting championship games in baseball history, USC beat Missouri, 8-7, in 12 innings, after trailing, 4-0. Third baseman Mike Blewett won the game for USC with a single to right field in the bottom of the 12th to send Rex Johnston home from third with the winning run. Bill Thom pitched 4 2/3 scoreless relief innings to get credit for the win in the contest played at Omaha, Neb., the present site of the CWS. Thom shut out the Tigers, 7-0, the night before the 12-inning marathon to keep USCs hopes alive. USC first baseman Ken Guffey went 2-for-4 with two RBI in the final game.

    The 1961 championship game was exciting as well. This time it was a 1-0 victory over Oklahoma State that gave USC the crown. With no score and one out in the eighth inning, leftfielder Mike Gillespie (the future Trojan head coach) doubled to the left-centerfield fence. One out later, 27-year-old rightfielder Art Ersepke drove home Gillespie with a single. Trojan pitcher John Withers extended his record to 12-1 with the shutout, in which he gave up only four hits and struck out 13. USC went 5-0 in the CWS and 43-9 overall.

    The next NCAA title came in 1963, when USC lost its first CWS game, then had to win every other game to stay alive. Troy did that and eventually defeated Arizona, 5-2, to take the title, with Walt Peterson pitching a complete game and striking out nine. Catcher Bud Hollowell and first baseman Gary Holman hit 400-foot homers to lead USC. Troy scored three runs in the first two innings to take command early.

    If the mark of a good team is the ability to win close games, the 1968 USC team was very good. That team went undefeated in Omaha, though winning no CWS game by more than two runs. The championship was clinched with a 4-3 victory over Southern Illinois. Trailing, 3-2, in the bottom of the ninth, USC got two runners on base with two men out. Up came pinch-hitter Pat Kuehner, hitless to that point in the CWS. He laced a triple to score the tying and winning runs, giving pitcher Brent Strom the victory. For the series, Strom pitched 9 1/3 innings, giving up only one run and three hits while striking out 13. His two wins in Omaha both came in relief. In the championship game against the Salukis, USC trailed 2-0 in the third, fought back to a 2-2 tie in the fourth and allowed the go-ahead run in the eighth, setting the stage for Kuehners heroics.

    Two years later USC won the first of an unprecedented five straight NCAA baseball titles. USC went 15 innings in the 1970 CWS to beat Florida State, 2-1, with Jim Barr pitching eight scoreless innings in relief to get his 14th win of the season against only two losses. Shortstop Cal Meier led off the bottom of the 15th inning with a walk. Third baseman Dan Stoligrosz walked and rightfielder Dave Kingman singled to load the bases with nobody out. Second baseman Frank Alfano, who already had two hits on the day, singled home the winning run.

    In 1971, as they did in 1968, the Trojans beat Southern Illinois to take the NCAA crown. Alfano and Craig Perkins hit homers, and Steve Busby got the complete-game pitching victory. Fred Lynn hit .467 (7-for-15) in the CWS with a home run. USCs 7-2 win in the championship game avenged an 8-3 loss earlier in the tournament at the hands of the Salukis.

    USC won the 1972 CWS despite hitting only .198 for the series. Obviously, Troy had dominant pitching, and Mark Sogge and Russ McQueen combined on a six-hitter to shut out Arizona State, 1-0, for the title. McQueen pitched 14 innings without giving up a run in the CWS and got the clinching victory over ASU, which entered the game with a 64-5 record. USCs strong pitching was a surprise since Troy lost three pitchers to professional signings before the season. McQueen did the biggest job in Omaha, getting three of USC's five wins and saving another. Rightfielder Tim Steele scored the final games only run and had two hits, including a double, against ASU.

    In 1973, USC again defeated the Sun Devils in the title game, this time behind an offense that featured Lynn, shortstop Roy Smalley and third baseman Rich Dauer. Troy went undefeated and beat Arizona State, 4-3, in the final, with Ken Huizenga leading the way with two RBI. The highlight of the CWS was USCs incredible 8-7 victory over Minnesota in one of the greatest comebacks in NCAA history in any sport. Going into the bottom of the ninth, the Trojans were being shut out, 7-0, by Gopher pitcher and long-time major leaguer Dave Winfield. Troy came up with eight singles, a sacrifice fly and a stolen base (and Minnesota committed three errors) to score eight runs and win the game.

    Infielder Dauer and designated hitter Steve Kemp starred for the 1974 NCAA-champion Trojans, who beat Miami (Fla.), 7-3, in the final game. Trojan pitchers John Racanelli and George Milke combined to strike out 10 Hurricanes (allowing no earned runs) in the clincher while second baseman Rob Adolph, a backup to quarterback Pat Haden on the football team, hit a two-run home run. USC went 50-20 overall to take its fifth title in a row. No other team has won more than two in succession.

    USCs 11th title came in 1978, a 54-9 season. USC had a .313 batting average and 2.73 earned run average for the season. The Trojans featured future major leaguers Dave Engle, Dave Hostetler, Dave Van Gorder and Tim Tolman. Once again they beat Arizona State in the final CWS game, 10-3, as Hostetler hit a homer and Bill Bordley got the pitching win. Bordley (12-2) was one of four Trojans, including Rod Boxberger (12-1), Brian Hayes (11-2) and Ernie Mauritson (11-0), with at least 11 wins.

    The 12th and most recent title came in 1998, as the Trojans put together an amazing run at the College World Series. After losing the first game, 12-10, to two-time defending champion LSU, the Trojans won four games in the next five days, including back-to-back wins over LSU, to reach the final. There, they met Pac-10 rival Arizona State, and a slugfest resulted in a 21-14 Trojan win. Second baseman Wes Rachels went 5-for-7 with a championship-game record seven RBI and designated hitter Jason Lane set a CWS record with 15 hits.

    Here's a list with the coaches of the winning teams:

    BASEBALL (12)
    1948    Sam Barry & Rod Dedeaux
    1958    Rod Dedeaux
    1961    Rod Dedeaux
    1963    Rod Dedeaux
    1968    Rod Dedeaux
    1970    Rod Dedeaux
    1971    Rod Dedeaux
    1972    Rod Dedeaux
    1973    Rod Dedeaux
    1974    Rod Dedeaux
    1978    Rod Dedeaux
    1998    Mike Gillespie