Cal Poly baseball stayed hot with a four-game series sweep against Dixie State from Friday, Apr. 1 through Sunday, Apr. 3 at Baggett Stadium.
The Mustangs (18-10, 5-1 Big West) swept the Trailblazers (13-14) in a dominant fashion, outscoring them 32-10. With the four wins, Cal Poly extended its winning streak to six straight and 11 out of the last 12.
Cal Poly baseball continued its winning ways on Friday, Apr. 1 with a 12-3 rout of visiting Dixie State at Baggett Stadium.
The win gave the Mustangs their third straight, and the eighth in their last nine contests.
“I think we started gaining some confidence [in ourselves as a team] a couple of weeks ago…It was a rough first few weeks of the season,” head coach Larry Lee said after the win. “We didn’t understand what it took to win baseball games, and then we kind of turned things around and we started learning how to win.”
As the game began, however, it looked like the Mustangs might have forgotten some of what they had learned. After an easy first inning, Cal Poly’s sophomore ace Drew Thorpe gave up an uncharacteristic leadoff walk in the second.
Two batters later, to the shock of the crowd packed into Baggett Stadium, Trailblazers Designated Hitter Will Chambers took the 2-1 offering well over the 405 sign in straight away center field to put Dixie State on the scoreboard, 2-0. It was just Thorpe’s third home run allowed this season.
The shock would quickly wear off, though, by the time the home frame of the second had wrapped up, as the Mustangs put themselves right back in it with two runs of their own.
Junior left fielder Collin Villegas continued his excellent season—he is 12-for-30 (.400) in the nine games before this series with six doubles, a triple and 12 RBIs—by ripping his 10th double of the season to left-center field on the first pitch he saw, and scoring following an error by Dixie State that allowed senior third baseman Tate Samuelson to reach base.
Then, after another error on the very next play moved Samuelson to third, senior designated hitter Matt Lopez sacrificed him home, and the score was suddenly even once again at 2-2.
“I got faith in my guys that they’ll pick me up,” Thorpe said about his run support. “I needed to be picked up, and I knew that they’ve got my back and I believe in that and just waited out the rest of the game, and tried to keep doing my thing.”
The tie lasted all of three outs, as sophomore shortstop Brooks Lee followed up a single from freshman catcher Ryan Stafford in the bottom of the third by launching a 3-1 pitch well over the right-field wall for a two-run, go-ahead home run that gave the Mustangs a 4-2 lead they wouldn’t give up.
The offense wasn’t done, as they added three more runs in the inning, in part thanks to DSU’s third error of the night.
The Mustangs would tack on four more runs in the seventh and another in the eighth on their way to their fifth straight win at home. Dixie State, on the other hand, could not muster any offense from the second inning on, as the Mustangs held the Blazers to just one run and five hits the rest of the way.
On the scorecard, it was Thorpe (7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 9 K on 108 pitches) who received the win to improve his record to 4-0. Thorpe’s five walks matched his career-high, set against both USC and CSUN a year ago, and his nine K’s were his second-lowest total of the 2022 campaign.
“I wasn’t really around the zone very much today,” Thorpe said. “[It was] just one of those days that’s going to happen sometimes…but I just tried to keep working through it and give these guys as much as I got in me.”
Offensively, it was Villegas, sophomore second baseman Nick Marinconz, and Samuelson who led the way for Cal Poly. Villegas went 3-4 with a double and a triple, Marinconz tallied three hits and Samuelson accounted for three total runs.
Saturday Game One
In the opening game, the Mustangs took down Dixie State by a score of 6-4.
The Trailblazers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning before the Mustangs answered with a run thanks to an RBI double by Villegas to cut into the lead.
Dixie State pushed their lead back to three at 4-1 in the second inning to shut down momentum for the Mustangs. However, sophomore first baseman Joe Yorke answered with an RBI double-play to cut the lead to 4-2.
Dixie State was shut out the rest of the game after freshman pitcher Noah Larkin pitched 6 ⅓ scoreless innings while only giving up three hits. Meanwhile, the Mustangs took advantage of three Trailblazer errors in the fifth inning to score four unearned runs and give Cal Poly the 6-4 advantage.
Senior pitcher Jason Franks came in relief for Larkin for the final four outs in which he recorded three strikeouts to secure the 6-4 victory for the Mustangs while recording his second save of the season.
Saturday Game Two
The Mustangs showed off their offensive firepower and junior pitcher Travis Weston pitched a complete-game shutout during Cal Poly’s 9-0 victory in the second half of Saturday’s doubleheader.
Weston’s complete-game shutout was Cal Poly’s second of the season. He surrendered just two hits and did not allow any walks en route to improving his overall record to 3-1.
The Mustangs jumped out to a 4-0 lead at the end of the second inning after Villegas hit a two-run single in the first and Yorke hit another in the following inning, giving Weston more than enough insurance.
Cal Poly scored three more runs in the fourth inning after Samuelson knocked a two-run double that scored another off a throwing error on the same play, extending the lead to 7-0.
Yorke then recorded his third RBI of the game after a single to score Brooks Lee and give the Mustangs an 8-0 lead.
Lee capped off the day with a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning to score the Mustangs’ ninth run.
A three-run homer by standout shortstop Brooks Lee in the fourth inning proved to be the winning run in a 5-3 victory and the series sweep against the Dixie State University Trailblazers on Sunday, April 3 inside Baggett Stadium.
The Mustangs won the fourth out of the four-game series on the back of Brooks Lee’s home run in the fourth that extended the lead to 5-1. The starter, senior right-hander Dylan Villalobos, pitched a productive three innings of baseball only giving up one run on four hits.
“We’re just getting better on a game-by-game basis,” Larry Lee said. “We are understanding how to win baseball games and that’s very important. Nothing says you have to lose a baseball game.”
The Mustangs started the game off quickly as Brooks Lee hit his 16th double of the year, adding to his nation-leading total. Yorke then singled him home on the following pitch. York went 3-4 with an RBI and two runs scored in the series finale and was 7-for-16 with five RBIs in the series.
“Be patient and try to get the next batter up,” Lee said about the approach at the plate. “That’s what we did and tack on pitches for the opposing pitcher and it worked out for us perfectly.”
Dixie State answered back in the top of the third inning with a sac fly from their DH Zach Thomas to tie the game. However, the red hot Villegas answered right back by doubling Stafford home to retake the lead 2-1.
Villegas was 7-for-13 with four doubles on the weekend. After an 0-for-16 slump, Villegas has turned it around and is batting .410 since the beginning of Big West play.
In the fourth, Brooks Lee’s towering home run to deep right-center field was marked at 449 feet. The shortstop did not mix feelings either, as he rounded third and continuously chirped the opposing pitcher Ryan Hardman and then emphatically stomped on home plate before flexing to the crowd.
“I said a lot of stuff, stuff that can’t be written on paper,” Brooks Lee said. “It was well worth it and he had it coming.”
Junior reliever Zach Button came in relief to start the fifth inning, and the right-hander pitched three scoreless innings with two strikeouts to earn himself the win.
In the eighth, the Trailblazers cut into the lead with a high bouncing ground ball that caused Brooks Lee to charge and make a barehanded throw. On the run, he short-hopped York at first base, allowing the runner to trot uncontestedly to home plate and make the game 5-3.
Coach Lee then made the move and went early to the flame-throwing Franks to work out of the eighth-inning jam. He secured a strikeout and fly ball to the outfield to end the eighth and a line out to Brooks Lee at shortstop in the ninth to secure the victory.
“We have to stay disciplined, keep the same energy all through nine and keep that winning feeling,” Brooks Lee said.
The Mustangs will face off against the California Golden Bears on Tuesday, Apr. 5 in Berkeley at Stu Gordon Stadium. Cal Poly recently beat the Bears 14-4 on Mar. 22 and will look to do the same as they make the trip up again.