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Struggle on: It is all USC can do to finish baseball’s lengthy drought

Twenty-five years have passed since Southern California won its 12th, and most recent, national title in baseball.Once the gold standard, the Trojans are two decades into a down cycle that has seen the program go through four coaches since Mike Gillespie, the last tie to the glorious Rod Dedeaux era, was forced out.Since 2006, USC

Struggle on: It is all USC can do to finish baseball’s lengthy drought

Twenty-five years have handed since Southern California gained its twelfth, and most up-to-date, nationwide title in baseball.

As soon as the gold customary, the Trojans are 20 years right into a down cycle that has seen this system undergo 4 coaches since Mike Gillespie, the final tie to the wonderful Rod Dedeaux period, was pressured out.

Since 2006, USC has made the NCAA Event as soon as and has had a profitable report in Pac-12 play simply twice. The Trojans completed final in 2022 and are picked tenth in coach Andy Stankiewicz’s first 12 months.

“It’s been disappointing, to say the least, to see what’s occurred,” stated former main league star Fred Lynn, one of many program’s beloved figures who gained nationwide titles all three years he was with the Trojans within the Nineteen Seventies.

“I’m a glass-half-full man and hopeful issues can flip round. I don’t need to take a look at the standings of wherever we’re taking part in — the Pac-12, Large Ten — and see us on the backside. That’s so international to me and arduous to observe.”

Stankiewicz — who appeared in 429 video games in seven seasons within the majors with the New York Yankees, Houston, Montreal and Arizona — expects to have this system on an upward trajectory by the point the Trojans and crosstown rival UCLA start taking part in within the Large Ten in two seasons. With their inherent recruiting and climate benefits, each ought to problem for titles yearly of their new convention.

The 58-year-old Stankiewicz has a deep understanding of USC’s conventional place in faculty baseball — the Trojans have twice as many nationwide titles as some other faculty — and he seems to be an excellent match.

He grew up in suburban Los Angeles and watched as Dedeaux stacked up the final of his 11 nationwide titles within the Nineteen Seventies. He had hoped to play for the Trojans, but it surely was Pepperdine that supplied a scholarship.

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“I used to be on the skin trying in and also you’re all the time asking, ’What’s it prefer to play for Coach Dedeaux?‴ he stated. “You then’re taking part in towards Mark McGwire and Randy Johnson at Dedeaux Subject, this iconic ballpark. You needed to beat them since you’re aggressive, however you additionally knew this place was fairly particular.”

His solely different faculty head teaching job was at Grand Canyon, which he led to 5 Western Athletic Convention titles since 2015 and two NCAA Tournaments.

“I liked Grand Canyon — they gave me a chance to be a head coach — but when ever there was a spot intriguing to me as someday presumably teaching, it was SC,” Stankiewicz stated.

The Trojans introduced again 19 gamers, together with the highest two beginning pitchers and three on a regular basis gamers. Stankiewicz’s prime priorities have been to earn the belief of gamers by way of the summer season and fall practices and ramp up recruiting.

He employed a formidable employees, together with a connection to higher instances in pitching coach Seth Etherton. He pitched on the 1998 nationwide championship workforce and was that season’s nationwide participant of the 12 months.

“One factor that has gotten misplaced through the years was the younger males understanding the legacy of the gamers who put USC on the map, from Rod Dedeaux to the Fred Lynns,” Etherton stated. “It’s vital for me to offer these guys a historical past of USC baseball, have them perceive what it means to place this emblem in your hat and in your jersey. It’s the best program within the historical past of school baseball, and it’s actually not even shut in comparison with anybody else.”

The Trojans opened the season with a three-game sweep of Marist earlier than dropping a mid-week recreation to UC Irvine.

They head to Auburn this weekend to play a Tigers workforce that has appeared in two of the final three Faculty World Collection. It will likely be a measuring-stick sequence for the Trojans.

Why did the Trojans fall so arduous?

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Andy Lopez, a Faculty Baseball Corridor of Fame coach and Pac-12 Community analyst, factors to 2 elements.

First, the beginning of the decline coincided with UCLA’s hiring of John Savage in 2005. The Bruins capitalized on the controversial firing of Gillespie in 2006 and established themselves on the prime of the Los Angeles space’s faculty baseball energy construction, profitable the 2013 nationwide title.

Second, the Trojans swung and missed on their makes an attempt to make splash hires and stayed in-house for the primary three coaches after Gillespie. Chad Kreuter, Gillespie’s son-in-law, had dropping seasons all 4 of his years. Frank Cruz was elevated from interim coach and fired after two seasons for violating NCAA guidelines.

Dan Hubbs, Cruz’s affiliate head coach, was promoted and lasted seven years. USC then went exterior to rent Jason Gill from Loyola Marymount. Gill’s three seasons have been marred by the college’s investigations into his therapy of gamers and potential NCAA violations.

“Good baseball guys,” Lopez stated, “however probaby not the correct rent on the time when John Savage was at UCLA.”

Lopez stated he thinks Stankiewicz is the correct man and that the Trojans’ timetable for enchancment may very well be accelerated with the transfer out of the Pac-12.

“It’s going to be the Large Ten and also you’re going to be tremendous there,” Lopez stated he advised him in a cellphone name after his hiring. “You’re nonetheless going to have John at UCLA, however once you take a look at that convention, you’re going to be OK.”


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