Cal Poly Baseball is now one win away from advancing to the postseason, after 4-3 road victory over UC Santa Barbara Friday, May 24.
Riding the momentum of Thursday’s 3-0 shutout win, the Mustangs (28-27, 17-6 Big West) benefited heavily from sophomore righthander Taylor Dollard‘s relief appearance. He improved to 5-0 as he walked two and struck out three Gauchos in six innings.
The Gauchos (44-9, 18-5 Big West) got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second inning with a solo home run from designated hitter Thomas Rowan.
However, freshman designated hitter Conagher Sands evened it up in the second inning. His double brought in sophomore right fielder Elijah Greene and advanced sophomore first baseman Tate Samuelson to third base.
Starting pitcher Andrew Alvarez was pulled from the game after three innings. The sophomore southpaw faced 13 batters, giving up four hits and one walk.
In the top of the fifth inning, Sands hit a two-run home run to left-center field. Sands’ second and third RBI of the game brought in himself and Greene, and gave Cal Poly a 3-1 lead.
T5 | CRUSHED!!
Conagher Sands(@conagher_sands) smacks a two-run home run to left-center field to put the Mustangs ahead!!
— Cal Poly Baseball (@calpolystangs) May 24, 2019
It was a short-lived lead.
With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Gauchos second baseman Andrew Martinez doubled to left-center field to bring in shortstop McClain O’Connor the Cal Poly lead down to 3-2. Catcher Eric Yang advanced to third on Martinez’s double as well.
Yang then scored off a wild pitch from Dollard and the game was tied at 3-3. The next UC Santa Barbara batter flied out center fielder to end the fifth inning.
After the fifth inning, Dollard did not give up a single hit and let only two batters get on base, both from being hit by pitches.
A triple from Greene and an intentional walk to Sands put runners on the corners in the top of the seventh inning. With two outs, junior catcher Myles Emmerson singled to bring home Greene and give the Mustangs the go-ahead run. The Spring Valley, California native is continuing his turnaround, currently batting .347 in-conference after starting the season batting .082.
Trouble brewed in the bottom of the ninth inning, when Gauchos center fielder Tommy Jew got on base after he was hit by the pitch. Jew then advanced to second base with one out thanks to a sacrifice bunt.
Despite having a runner in scoring position, the Gauchos did not capitalize, as the next two batters fouled out and flied out to give the Mustangs the 4-3 win, and create a title-deciding scenario on the final day of the season.
With the win, Cal Poly is now one win away from claiming a share of the Big West Conference title. A win tomorrow would earn the Mustangs their first NCAA tournament since 2014.
The final game of the series is Saturday at 1 p.m. from Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.