Sophomore third baseman Ricky Oropesa led off the top of the ninth inning with a solo homerun to break a 4-4 tie, and the Trojans tacked on four more runs in the frame to give USC a 9-4 victory against Cal Poly in the rubber game of a three-game set at Baggett Stadium Sunday.
After Oropesa’s game-winning drive, junior second baseman Joe De Pinto, who went 3-5 with one RBI and two runs scored, singled to third base, driving in a run. A Mustangs’ (1-2) throwing error on the play allowed two more runs to cross the plate. De Pinto advanced to third on the play and scored later in the inning.
“It was a huge inning for the Trojans,” USC coach Chad Kreuter said. “In these three games, we’ve seen a lot of character in these young players. There’s a lot of battle within this team.”
USC freshman designated hitter Cade Kreuter hit an eighth-inning two-run homerun to put the Trojans ahead, 4-3, but junior reliever Ryan Cabral gave up the lead in the bottom half of the inning. Cal Poly pinch hitter Elliot Stewart’s two-out RBI single to center tied the game. USC senior Shuhei Fujiya (1-0) relieved Cabral to record the final four outs of the game and earn the win.
Although the final line might not indicate it, the game was a tight pitcher’s duel before the late-inning scoring frenzy. USC senior pitcher Kevin Couture went seven innings and gave up three runs on six hits with three strikeouts, and Cal Poly sophomore Kyle Anderson gave up four runs on seven hits with five strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings.
“Once he got into the third inning, he settled down and really got into a rhythm that carried us and kept us in the ballgame,” Krueter said.
The Mustangs’ lone victory of the opening-season series against the Trojans (2-1) came Saturday. Behind sophomore pitcher Mason Radeke’s six-inning, one-run performance, Cal Poly defeated the Trojans 10-6. Radeke (1-0) struck out seven batters in his outing and struck out the side to escape a bases loaded jam in the second inning.
Cal Poly built a 7-1 lead in the fifth before surviving two late USC rallies. After USC cut the lead to 7-5 in the seventh, Mustangs’ senior reliever Mark DeVincenzi earned the save by inducing a groundout from USC senior centerfielder Mike O’Neill with the bases loaded.
USC sophomore starter Chad Smith (0-1) allowed seven runs (six earned) in 4 1/3 innings with five walks and four strikeouts.
Junior third baseman Matt Hart went 3-4 for the Trojans with two doubles, but USC stranded 14 runners on the base paths.
USC defeated Cal Poly, 9-4, in its season opener Friday night. Sophomore right-hander Andrew Triggs (1-0) solidified his spot at the top of the Trojans’ weekend rotation by allowing four runs and striking out seven in seven innings.
With the help of two misplays by the Mustangs in the field, the Trojans took the lead in the fifth and extended it in the seventh and eight innings to win their 14th season opener in the last 18 seasons.
De Pinto went 3-4 with two doubles and sophomore designated hitter Matthew Foat went 4-5 with four RBIs, and Cabral earned the save for the Trojans.