Oropesa Smashes Two Homers As Cal Drops Sixth of Season

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The No. 13 Cal baseball team finished their pre-game warmups on Friday afternoon to the beat of the cult hit "Lemme Smang It." By the end of the game, though, the only team on the field that achieved smash-bang fusion was USC.

The Bears absorbed just their sixth loss of the season, but it was a doozy - a 10-6 trip-up against the struggling Trojans that was, for most of the game, not nearly as close as the four-run margin suggests.

Cal starter Erik Johnson, who came into the game with a sub-two ERA, had easily his worst outing of the year. The righty was all over the place, hitting three batters, throwing two wild pitches and walking three in five innings of work. He also had the misfortune of running into USC first baseman Ricky Oropesa's best day in some time.

Oropesa sat back and waited for the hard-throwing Johnson to leave his pitches up. Oropesa then took them out. The junior hit two two-run homers, one on a line drive shot to right field in the first inning and another in the fifth. Oropesa added his fifth RBI with a single in the sixth.

"Their guy beat our guy," coach David Esquer said. "Oropesa's their guy; Johnson's our guy. He beat him twice in hand-to-hand combat."

The good news for the Bears is that Johnson's erratic outing wasn't due to an injury. He just had a bad day.

And except for a five-run inning, so did the Cal offense.

Although he wasn't throwing particularly potent stuff, Trojan starter Andrew Triggs held the Bears scoreless through four. The game got exciting in the fifth, when Cal came back to even the score, 5-5. Freshman DH Andrew Knapp led things off with a double and he was driven in by left fielder Austin Booker's single to bring the tally to 5-1. Hits from shortstop Marcus Semien, catcher Chadd Krist, first baseman Devon Rodriguez and third baseman Mitch Delfino equalized the score.

But it was never that close again. Cal stranded 11 runnings on base, and USC hit reliever Logan Scott for four runs over the course of 2 1/3 innings. The Trojans tacked on one final run in the ninth off Joey Donofrio.

With the win, the Trojans improved to 10-16, and the Bears fell to 17-6.

"The cross that we bear is that losing hurts because we work really hard," Esquer said. "One of the things they have to suffer through is losing which really bothers them."

It did bother them. After the game, packing to leave Evans Diamond was a noisy business as players threw gloves, shoes and bats forcefully into their bags. Luckily for the Bears, they have the chance to start fresh tomorrow morning. Justin Jones throws out the first pitch for the Bears at 1 p.m. at Evans Diamond.

"I'm proud of them that they care a lot," Esquer said. "Our job is to make sure they don't overreact to it."


Katie Dowd covers baseball. Contact her at [email protected]

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