After 13 long months of recovery Beaver right handed pitcher Drew Rasmussen made his return to the mound in Friday night’s win over USC in Goss Stadium. The righty faced two batters and earned the save after an eight inning one-hit performance from Luke Heimlich, and after only 10 pitches don’t be surprised if we see him on the mound again during this series in relief.
In 2015 as a freshman Rasmussen threw 106 innings allowing only 36 runs and striking out 82. With a dominant mid-90s fastball and a slider that rounds out in the high 80’s he proved he should be considered one of the top pitchers in the country in his first year, especially after throwing the only perfect game in the history of the program. His next season was cut short after needing Tommy John surgery after throwing 37 innings in six appearances. His highly anticipated return to the mound saw him regain his velocity and get his first outs in over a year.
“It was great to get back out there,” Rasmussen said and then paused. “It was a relief, you know I can still throw strikes.”
But after over a year of waiting, the first jog to the mound was understandably filled with nerves for the right hander.
“It didn’t hit me until I ran out there I was warming up like it was any other day, then you get the call and the crowd starts getting a little louder and the yeah the nerves got me a little bit,” he said.
The timing on a return like this can sometimes be difficult, between final examinations and the coaching staff and player deciding when they believe he is ready. But head coach Pat Casey had no doubt that he would be ready when called upon once he got warmed up.
“We made a decision that if we got him up he was going in the game,” Casey said. “So we were in the ninth and we said Mulholland is gonna have one hitter and Drew you’ve got the second hitter.”
The crowd at Goss was already fueled heading into the top of the ninth inning with a 3-1 lead, and when Jake Mulholland recorded the first out of the inning and when “HandClap” came over the loudspeakers the fans erupted. They had been waiting for Rasmussen to make his first appearance after being medically cleared to pitch in a game last week, and they were on their feet until the final out was recorded on a ground ball to KJ Harrison at first.
“It was incredible, you see the fans pick him up and its an even better feeling,” Heimlich said. “He’s one of my buddies my roommate and it was pretty incredible seeing him get to come back.”
And with the crowd behind him Rasmussen said he was ready to go.
“This place never lets you down,” he said. “I love it here--the crowd is awesome. It was a big boost to know they supported me and had my back.”