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Irvine’s diamond gem

Playing surface at Anteater Ballpark is universally praised as major league quality.

May 29, 2009|By Barry Faulkner

Lupold, 26, who also works on the grounds crew at Dodger Stadium, is part of the legacy left by former coach Dave Serrano.

“Serrano recruited me from USC,” said Lupold, who began a five-year stint at Blair Field in Long Beach, after playing baseball at Millikan High. “Then Serrano left [for Cal State Fullerton] a week later. Luckily, Gillespie came in as his replacement, since I knew Gillespie from USC.”

Lupold said he learned his craft from the best at Dodger Stadium, some of whom are in Irvine to help out for the regional. He also said the key to any quality baseball diamond is the dirt.

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“Any groundskeeper and the players will tell you it’s the dirt,” Lupold said. “You can have the most beautiful grass in the world, but if the first ground ball in the game hits a guy in the face and it’s an error, that’s the worst thing that can happen. The grass looks good, but it really doesn’t decide the game.”

Lupold said he is happy to show off his baby to a national television audience (on ESPNU), but he is also anxious for his peers from Dodger Stadium to assess the diamond.

“[National television] is cool, but there’s pressure, too,” Lupold said. “If I think I’m tough on myself, my friends from Dodger Stadium are tougher. I’m more worried about them than the ESPN cameras.”

Virginia Coach Brian O’Connor was among those generous with compliments.

“It’s very nice,” O’Connor said. “I’m very impressed with this ballpark. It’s very well-maintained.”

Fresno State Coach Mike Batesole also sung its praises.

“It looks great and it played great [in Thursday’s workout],” Batesole said. “It’s a beautiful place.”


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