With one of the best starts in their history with a record of 9-2-1, the 25th-ranked UC Irvine Baseball team seemed to be on cloud nine as they took on the USC Trojans at Anteater Ballpark on March 2.
The players weren’t the only ones riled up for the game. Each side had its share of loud fans and a group of hecklers were actually removed from the game by police after taunting the Trojan players just behind their dugout.
The game did not live up to the hype, however, and even with the help of the hecklers, the Trojans (4-7) defeated the Anteaters (10-3-1) in an anticlimactic 2-0 win.
‘In a midweek game like this, it’s a good opportunity to throw our young guys,’ said Head Coach John Savage.
Freshman pitcher Justin Cassel took advantage of this opportunity but could have used more help from his defense.
Cassel made only his second collegiate start against the Trojans, who have won more than twice as many national championships (12) as any other university. But this didn’t seem to faze him, as he pitched four and one-third no-hit innings, walking five batters and striking out three.
‘I wasn’t as nervous this time, not as much as my first college start,’ Cassel said.
But as Cassel was replaced in the fifth inning by junior hurler Steve Schroer, he was still responsible for a Trojan baserunner who had reached base on an error. USC designated fielder Joey Metropoulos would hit a RBI single into left field