A Bad Night on a Big Stage

USC's five-game winning streak was snapped by crosstown rival UCLA at the DodgerTown Classic at Dodger Stadium. But instead of the loss being the start of something new, players said the it was merely a bad night on a big stage.

Dodger Stadium -- None of them played Tuesday, but they still felt it just the same.

Three of the Trojans' top pitchers in Andrew Triggs, Martin Viramontes and Nigel Nootbaar echoed equivalent sentiments: that UCLA's 7-2 win over USC was simply a bad night on a big stage.

The men of Troy, now 12-4, didn't expect to come into Dodger Stadium for the DodgerTown Classic and lose to its rival. Riding a five-game winning streak, the Trojans were giving up an average of 3.7 runs this season and putting up an average of 5.3.

Halve the Trojans' run average and double the average runs allowed and you get an outcome similar to Tuesday.

Call it a fluke, perhaps. These players do.

"Fifteen games or so into the season you're going to have one of those, so it just happened to be now. It's unfortunate it was on this stage," Triggs said.

"Tonight we just didn't play well. It was definitely not the night to do that," Viramontes added.

Pitcher Brandon Garcia got the loss for the cardinal and gold, while UCLA's Grant Watson held the Trojans to one run and seven hits in six innings for the win.

The stage at Dodger Stadium obviously heightened nerves and excitement for players, including those who watched from the dugout, like Nootbaar.

"To play at Dodger Stadium, it couldn't be a better setting to play at. We lost but it's always exciting," he said.

For Triggs, a redshirt senior who has played in this ballpark year after year for this event, learned that excitement never goes away. While USC has played in front of packed crowds at North Carolina and will again at No. 2 Stanford next week, the 6,000 in attendance at Dodger Stadium was about 90 percent larger than the typical turnout at Dedeaux Field.

"It's always exciting playing here. But something that coach says is 'you play the game, you don't play the stadium or the opponent,'" Triggs recalled. "We came out here today and it really wasn't our best game."

Fortunately for USC, the game did not count toward the Trojans' conference record. And Nootbaar said his club can take a lot from the loss heading into Pac-12 play.

"It's tough to lose here, because a lot of people came out but I think it kind of let us know where we are," he said. "We'll come out and start out conference on Friday and hopefully play well there."

The Trojans begin conference play Friday at 6 p.m. where they host Utah in a three-game series.

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