On a wet and windless night at Baggett Stadium, two outfield errors by the Cal Poly baseball team gave USC the four runs it needed to break open a close game and beat the Mustangs 9-4 in the first of a three-game season-opening series Friday.
The Trojans got two unearned runs off Cal Poly starter Matt Leonard in the third inning after a retreating Bobby Crocker misjudged a high fly ball to deep right by USC slugger Ricky Oropesa.
Leading by one in the seventh, the Trojans got two more runs when Adam Melker misplayed a deep fly to center off the bat of Matt Hart, and USC pushed its lead to 7-4.
Mustangs reliever Frankie Reed took the loss — the Mustangs’ fourth straight in a season opener — after walking in a run to break a 4-4 tie in the sixth inning.
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After missing the previous two seasons following Tommy John surgery, Reed was making his first appearance since 2007.
He retired the first two batters he faced and went ahead 0-2 against Keith Castillo before walking him, hitting the next batter and walking two more to force in the run.
Initially set for a 6 p.m. start, the game was pushed back because of a late afternoon flurry of rain. Though light, the drizzle remained constant almost the entire game, but the umpires were able to avoid calling any further delays.
Cal Poly took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a two-run single by catcher Ross Brayton and an RBI groundout by designated hitter D.J. Gentile.
With the bases loaded, Brayton scored Luke Yoder and Bobby Crocker with a single to left against USC starter Andrew Triggs, a 6-foot-4 right-hander with a low-90s sinker that seemed to get heavier as the night wore on.
Gentile plated Matt Jensen one batter later.
That rally came after a bend-but-don’t-break start to the season by Leonard in the top of the first.
The senior left-hander labored through 37 pitches in the opening frame, giving up two hits and walking one as the Trojans proved selective at the plate.
Leonard, however, rebounded to last through the fifth inning.
He ended up allowing two earned runs on six hits while striking out two. Though he finished with 106 pitches, Leonard walked just that one batter in the first inning.
After the three-run rally in the first, Cal Poly mustered just six more scattered hits. Triggs lasted through the seventh and was charged with four earned runs on seven hits. He struck out seven and walked just one.
Cal Poly threatened again in the eighth inning as the Mustangs loaded the bases against USC reliever Jordan Hershiser, the son of former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Orel Hershiser.
Jordan Hershiser did not allow a hit, but the 6-8 righty hit a batter and walked two more before being replaced by Ryan Cabral. Cabral finished the game by striking out Yoder to end the threat.
Yoder was one of only two Mustangs to record multiple hits. He batted 2 for 5 with a triple and an RBI. Brayton was also 2 for 5. Joe De Pinto was 3 for 4 with three runs, and teammate Matthew Foat was 4 for 5 with four RBI for USC.