After allowing 14 unanswered runs in the Friday night opener, Cal Poly did not fair much better in the second game of their series against Long Beach State (25-16, 8-6 Big West) on Saturday. The Mustangs (25-16, 7-4) were only able to muster four hits en route to dropping their afternoon matchup with the Dirtbags 2-0.
Don’t let the teams’ identical overall records fool you: Long Beach State has been the dominant team thus far this weekend. The Dirtbags have outscored the Mustangs 15-0 over the last 17 innings at their home park, Blair Field. While Saturday’s result was much closer than Friday’s 14-3 blowout, Cal Poly still deals with the disappointment of dropping three straight a week after sweeping nationally-ranked UCSB.
Sophomore starting pitcher Erich Uelmen gave his best effort, going seven innings and allowing only two earned runs. But Long Beach State starter Darren McCaughan was just too dominant, retiring the first 14 hitters he faced on his way to pitching eight shutout innings. Chris Rivera came in to close the game, pitching a perfect ninth to secure the win for the Dirtbags.
The first five players of Cal Poly’s lineup went hitless on the afternoon. Junior second baseman Brett Binning accounted for half of the team’s hits with two knocks. Of the players to go hitless on Saturday, junior center fielder and No. 3 hitter Brett Barbier was perhaps the most surprising. Barbier’s hitless afternoon snapped his 16-game hitting streak and 40-game on-base streak.
In better news for Cal Poly, relief pitcher Justin Calomeni turned in another quality late-inning performance. The junior pitched a scoreless eighth inning, striking out one batter. The right-hander, who has six saves so far this season, has struck 35 batters in 20.1 innings pitched.
Despite losing on Friday and Saturday, the Mustangs are still sitting within the top three of the Big West Conference standings. Cal Poly hopes to pick up its play on Sunday with sophomore starting pitcher Jarred Zill (4-1, 2.50 ERA) taking the mound for the series finale at 1 p.m.