Cal Poly Baseball lost three of a four-game away series against Blue-Green rival UC Santa Barbara from Friday, April 30 to Sunday, May 2.
The Mustangs now sport an even 20-20 record on the season, including a conference record of 10-14. The Gauchos moved to 29-13 on the season and 20-8 in Big West play.
Cal Poly let go of an early lead and lost 1-4 in the first game of the weekend series against UC Santa Barbara.
All five runs in the game came from solo home runs and the starting pitchers from both sides combined for 28 of 29 strikeouts.
On Friday’s game, freshman pitcher Drew Thorpe (4-4) started on the mound and set a career high of 13 strikeouts. The right hander allowed two runs, four hits and one walk over the course of 6.2 innings to accumulate 81 strikeouts this year, despite taking the loss.
Over eight innings, UC Santa Barbara’s Michael McGreevy (6-1) struck out 15 Mustangs and allowed one run, two hits and no walks, to lead the Big West with a total of 85 strikeouts for the season.
After a scoreless first inning, Cal Poly opened the scoring at the top of the second when redshirt junior third baseman Tate Samuelson hit a left field home run with the bases empty to grab his fourth homer of the year.
The Mustangs continued the momentum with Thorpe striking out the first four Gaucho batters, all swinging, and had an overall of five strikeouts within the first two innings. McGreevy also had four strikeouts within the first two innings.
However, over the remainder the game, Cal Poly only managed to produce one other hit, coming from Samuelson in the fifth inning.
Two scoreless innings later, the Gauchos hit a home run to even the score 1-1 at the bottom of the fifth. Thorpe quickly responded with back-to-back strikeouts and freshman outfielder Sam Biller closed out the inning with a diving catch off a deep hit into left field.
The action continued at the bottom of the seventh inning when UC Santa Barbara hit another solo home run to earn their first lead of the night at 2-1 in only their fourth hit of the game.
In the middle of the inning, freshman pitcher Kyle Scott replaced Thorpe on the bump and threw a scoreless remainder of the inning.
However, the game picked up at the bottom of the eighth inning as the Gauchos hit back-to-back solo home runs to extend their lead to 4-1. On the next play, UC Santa Barbara hit a ball deep into right center field, forcing Cal Poly to switch pitchers yet again.
Freshman pitcher Chase Walter came in and threw a scoreless remainder eighth inning to finish the game.
At the top of the ninth inning, UC Santa Barbara pitcher Carter Benbrook struck out the final Mustang batter to close out the first game of the series 4-1.
Saturday Game 1
In the opening game of Saturday’s doubleheader, the Mustangs ended their three-game losing streak after they defeated the Gauchos 5-1.
The Gauchos took an early lead in the bottom of the third inning, but despite loading the bases with one out, UC Santa Barbara managed to score only one run for the entire game.
A three-run home run over left field in the top of the fourth inning from junior right fielder Nick DiCarlo which gave the Mustangs a 3-1 lead at the end of the fourth.
The Mustangs added two more runs in the top of the fifth inning after a bases-loaded walk to freshman second baseman Nick Marinconz and a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch to freshman first baseman Joe Yorke.
Sophomore left-hand pitcher Travis Weston (4-5) notched his fourth win of the season in his start where he pitched 5 ⅓ innings while allowing only one run with five strikeouts.
Scott earned his fifth save of the season after striking out seven through 3 ⅔ scoreless innings in relief.
DiCarlo finished with a game high three RBI at the expense of Gauchos starting pitcher Rodney Boone (8-2), who suffered only his second loss of the season after allowing five runs in his start.
Saturday Game 2
Cal Poly lost in heartbreaking fashion in the second game on Saturday when UC Santa Barbara walked off the Mustangs in the 11th inning with a final score of 2-1.
Junior pitcher Andrew Alvarez got the start for the Mustangs in the late game of the doubleheader and, despite allowing eight hits, had a great defensive showing. He only allowed a single run and struck out eight Gauchos in his seven innings of play.
Christopher Troye got the start for Santa Barbara but would only play the first 1.1 innings. UCSB’s three pitchers in the game would combine to only allow one run off of three hits from Cal Poly and striking out 12 Mustangs in the extra inning battle.
The game was scoreless until the fifth inning, with just a few singles from both teams in the first four innings of play. In the top of the fifth with Marinconz facing two outs, he took his 2-1 pitch and blasted a shot over the left field wall and gave the Mustangs the lead and their sole run in the game.
That home run is Marinconz’s second in as many weeks after hitting a solo shot in the previous week’s series against UC Riverside.
Santa Barbara responded quickly when they loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth inning and tied the score 1-1 off of the sacrifice flyout of second baseman Jason Willow.
Freshman pitcher Bryce Warrecker would come in the eighth inning for Cal Poly and would pitch for the rest of the game. Warrecker would get credited with the loss and that moved his record to 1-3 on the season.
Cal Poly had offensive struggles in three of the final four innings when they left four runners on base and failed to capitalize on any of those baserunners. The Mustangs’ offense struggled against Benbrook who picked up the win in his relief effort, moving his record to 4-1.
The game moved to extra innings as the git remained knotted at 1-1 at the end of regulation. Both teams left a man on base in the tenth inning but neither school was able to score.
In the bottom of the 11th, UCSB got their winning run on base when Bryce Willits drew a walk and then was moved to second. John Newman then came to bat for the Gauchos and facing a full count, knocked a single straight to center field that was just enough to bring Willits home from second and give Santa Barbara a 2-1 series lead.
The Mustangs hoped to even the series in the final game of the weekend.
The Gauchos powered past Cal Poly in the final game of the series with a 12-3 victory on Sunday.
Redshirt freshman right-hander Kaden Sheedy got the ball to start for the Mustangs, but was unable to get out of the first inning, allowing six runs on three hits and three walks in 0.2 innings.
After a scoreless top half of the first for Cal Poly, the UCSB offense jumped on Sheedy for six runs to take the early 6-0 lead.
Neither team got a run across for the next two innings until Cal Poly got on the board in the top of the fourth.
In the fourth, junior infielder Matt Lopez roped a double down the left field line that scored two runners, Samuelson and freshman shortstop Brooks Lee. Later on in the inning, DiCarlo drove in a run on a fielder’s choice to cut the Gaucho lead to 6-3.
After the three-run fourth inning for Cal Poly, the rest of the game was all UCSB. In the bottom of the fourth, the Gauchos answered with two runs of their own to go up 8-3.
UCSB proceeded to put up two runs in both the fifth and the sixth innings to bolster their lead. Meanwhile, the Mustangs were held scoreless, making the lead 12-3 for UCSB.
Neither team tallied a run for the remainder of the afternoon, giving the Gauchos the victory and the overall series win in the 2021 Blue-Green Rivalry.
The Mustangs will look to regain a record above .500 when they face CSU Bakersfield beginning on Friday, May 7.