Baseball: USC takes two out of three from Cal Poly

USC baseball's season-opening series in San Luis Obispo was "very successful," coach Chad Kreuter said Sunday.

The Trojans managed victories on both Friday and Sunday over Cal Poly, despite falling behind early in each game.

Friday, starting hurler Andrew Triggs gave up three quick runs in the first inning, putting USC in a deep hole. But the Trojans fought back slowly but surely, taking the lead on a bases-loaded walk by senior outfielder Mike O'Neill in the fifth inning and never relinquishing it.

And Sunday, sophomore infielder Ricky Oropesa broke a 4-4 tie with a solo home run to lead off the ninth inning, opening the floodgates in what would become a 9-4 victory for the Trojans.

'There are some big hits within this club,” Kreuter said by phone on the team's long, loud bus ride home from San Luis Obispo. “There are some guys with extraordinary talent that are capable of stepping up at any time.”

Asked if he expected the standout performances of newcomers Matt Foat and Matt Hart, who combined for a .462 average, 12 hits and 7 RBI over the weekend, Kreuter laughed.

“That’s good recruiting,” he said. “We recruited those guys to come in to be immediate contributors and replace some of the guys we lost in the draft.”

"We're really excited about both Matts."

USC did lose six players to the draft after last season, including shortstop Grant Green and catcher/pitcher Robert Stock. But while many analysts predicted the Trojans would experience a drop-off from their 28-28 record in 2009, Kreuter disagrees.

Kreuter, in his fourth season at USC, feels like he's assembled something this year he hadn't in years prior: a team with a collective identity.

Whether that identity results in anything remains to be seen — but in the meantime, "there’s a lot of character and a lot of fight in our ballclub," Kreuter said.

USC has a packed schedule in the coming week. A home game against Loyola Marymount comes Tuesday, an exhibition against the Japanese Rikkyo University is Wednesday, and big games against Oklahoma State and Vanderbilt are scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

And there's the all-important Sunday game against UCLA.

Kreuter said the plan is to approach the three weekend games as one series, and thus play accordingly.

"We want to get two of them," he said. "Or even three."

Notes: Two players with Trojan connections had memorable debuts over the weekend. Kreuter's son, the freshman Cade, hit a key two-run homer in the eighth inning of Sunday's game to give the Trojans a 4-3 lead, and catcher Richard Stock — also a freshman and the younger brother of Robert — hit the first pitch he saw in college "roughly 500 feet" for a home run in a pinch-hit appearance Saturday...Sunday's game against UCLA will be held at 2 p.m. at Dodger Stadium as part of the inaugural Dodgertown Classic.