The Cal Poly baseball team lost two of three games to UC Riverside in its first conference test last weekend.
The Mustangs (8-18, 1-2) fell in the final game, 14-5. With the loss, the Mustangs dropped the series to the Highlanders — the Mustangs fell victim to a heartbreaking ninth-inning rally Thursday, 3-2. Cal Poly salvaged its sole victory with a late rally, defeating UC Riverside 5-3 in extra innings Saturday.
On Saturday, the Mustangs were crippled by a career day from Central Coast product and Highlanders star Brian McConkey, who tied an NCAA record with three triples and two RBIs.
UC Riverside drew blood first. They tallied four scores in the second inning. Cal Poly bounced back with four runs in the top of the third, featuring a two-run double by J.J. Thompson, an RBI grounder by Adam Melker and a run-scoring single by David Van Ostrand. The rest of the game belonged to the Highlanders as they snapped the tie with three runs in the third and pulled away with four more in the fourth.
The Mustangs were able to piece together just one more run on Evan Busby’s sacrifice fly in the sixth inning.
The loss went to Mustang starter Joey Wagman (1-2), who surrendered seven runs — four earned — and five hits in 2 1/3 innings.
Busby and Van Ostrand both went 2-4; they were the only Mustangs to collect a pair of hits. Mitch Haniger and Bobby Crocker also produced two hits each as Cal Poly was outhit by the Highlanders 15-9.
Friday, Haniger hit a two-run home run in the ninth inning and Matt Jensen tripled home two runs in the 10th as Cal Poly snapped a six-game losing streak with a 10-inning 5-3 victory over UC Riverside.
Cal Poly trailed 3-1 with two outs and the bases empty in the top of the ninth inning when Van Ostrand drew a 10-pitch walk and Haniger belted his fourth home run of the season, a two-run shot to left-center field. That tied the game at 3-3 and Jensen — riding 4-25 slump over a seven-game stretch— broke the tie with a two-run triple to right-center field in the 10th, his fourth of the season, giving Cal Poly a 5-3 lead.
Cal Poly scored its first run in the sixth on Jensen’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly to right field, cutting UC Riverside’s lead to 2-1. The Mustangs threatened for more in the inning, but Ross Brayton lined into an inning-ending double play, one of three the Highlanders turned in the game.
Thursday, UC Riverside pinch-hitter Eddie Young singled up the middle with one out and the bases loaded in the ninth inning, driving in two runs to defeat the Mustangs in a 3-2 loss.
Cal Poly scored its two runs in the first inning. Luke Yoder was hit by a pitch, Jensen singled and Brayton’s squeeze bunt scored Yoder. Van Ostrand reached base on an error which allowed Jensen to score from second base.
UC Riverside tallied a run in the fourth on an RBI double by Robert Brantly and won the game in the ninth on Young’s heroics.
Cal Poly looks to turn its season struggles around against UC Santa Barbara in a three-game conference series next weekend in Baggett Stadium. First pitch will be thrown Friday at 6 p.m.