Anderson threw two scoreless innings to start the game retiring the first five Anteater batters all on fly outs by combining his mid to high-80s fastball with a strong breaking ball.
“Kyle [Anderson] has been great for us all year,” shortstop Mike Miller said. “He just did what he does again, he throws strikes with all his pitches. He’s out there even when he doesn’t have his best stuff, he’s battling. There’s nothing more you could want as a position guy. He works fast, throws strikes, and has been tremendous all year for us. Today was just another one of his great games.”
In the top of the 3rd inning, UC Irvine catcher Jerry McClanahan started the inning off with a double down the third base line. Sparks followed with a sacrifice bunt to move McClanahan to third.
With runners on first and third, Anteater first baseman Jordan Fox hit a choppy ground ball over the head of Cal Poly’s first baseman Tommy Pluschkell to score McClanahan and give Irvine a 1-0 lead.
Cal Poly answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the 3rd. Shortstop Mike Miller was walked and advanced to third on an errant throw to first by UC Irvine’s pitcher Crosby Slaught.
Slaught walked Mitch Haniger for the second time of the night bringing up third baseman Jimmy Allen. With a 2-2 count, Allen drove a fastball over the shortstop’s head scoring Miller, tying the game at 1-1.
“They had a little bit of momentum,” Miller said. “It’s a big thing for us to equalize it and take the momentum back. We’re at our home park, so if we’re able to match that it puts us in a good position later in the game.”
Cal Poly rallied in the bottom of the sixth with two outs to score two. Pluschkell was hit by a pitch followed by an Evan Busby walk to put two on. Miller drove a single up the middle to score Pluschkell. With Baggett Stadium’s crowd on their feet, designated hitter Tim Wise came to the plate driving a single, nearly identical to Miller’s, to score Busby putting the Mustangs up 3-1.
Nick Grim came in to throw the 7th inning and gave up two walks. After throwing a ball to the third hitter of the inning Grim was pulled by head coach Larry Lee in favor of Reed Reilly.
With two on, Irivine’s Sparks bunted to move over Scott Gottschling and Jerry McClanahan. Lead off hitter D.J. Crumlich came to the plate with two in scoring position. With a 3-2 count, Reilly blew a fastball by Crumlich for the second out.
“Reilly was the key tonight,” Lee said. “He came in with a really difficult situation and got out of it without giving up any runs. We needed it. It’s about attacking the strike-zone with their fastball.”
Second baseman Tommy Reyes was walked to load the bases. Three-hitter Jordan Fox crushed a line drive directly to shortstop Mike Miller ending the inning.
Reilly extended his relief into the 8th, producing two fly balls from Anteater hitters and a strikeout.
“Our starters have the ability to go deep,” Lee said. “If they can give you six quality, we then have three guys (Grim, Reilly, and Johnson) for three innings who can close it out. Their success will lead to our success.”
The Mustangs moved to 3-2 in conference with the series-clinching victory and go to 18-10 overall heading into Saturday’s weekend finale.