Cal Poly baseball capped off the regular season with a series win over Hawaii from Thursday, May 26 through Saturday, May 28 at Les Murakami Stadium.
The Mustangs (37-21, 22-8 Big West) end the season in second place in the Big West, while the Rainbow Warriors (28-24, 19-11 Big West) finished in third.
Cal Poly came from behind in the series opener on Thursday to take down Hawaii by a score of 5-3.
In his outing, sophomore righthander Drew Thorpe solidified his spot at the top of the nation’s strikeout leaderboard while setting the school record for strikeouts in a single season. He reached these titles by striking out 10 in his eight innings of work, bringing his season total to 149.
However, it was a tough first inning for Thorpe as Hawaii took the lead with three runs. After settling in, Thorpe followed with seven scoreless innings, and with the help of closer Jason Franks, they kept the Rainbow Warriors at three runs.
In the second inning, the Mustangs were able to muster one run despite having the bases loaded with one out. The score remained 3-1 until the eighth inning when Cal Poly finally broke through.
To lead off the eighth, freshman catcher Ryan Stafford singled and junior left fielder Collin Villegas was hit by a pitch to put two runners on with no outs. Senior designated hitter Matt Lopez then singled into the gap in right field, scoring one.
Sophomore outfielder Reagan Doss grounded out to shortstop, scoring Villegas and tying the game at 3-3. After a strikeout, graduate third baseman Brett Borgogno stepped to the plate. With two outs and the game tied, Borgogno blasted a two-run homer over the left-field wall, giving Cal Poly the 5-3 lead.
With the lead for the first time on the night, Thorpe made quick work of the Rainbow Warriors with a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom half including his ninth and 10th strikeout.
Thorpe then turned it over to Franks in the ninth, who struck out two of the three Hawaii batters he faced and secured his 10th save of the season.
Cal Poly scored in three consecutive innings and closed things out in the top of the ninth to clinch the series on Friday with a 7-2 win.
With this win, the Mustangs set a program record with 13 straight victories.
A few batters later, Doss grounded out to the shortstop, but Yorke was able to come in for the run. Borgogno finished things off in the inning by walking with the bases loaded, putting the Mustangs up 3-0.
After another scoreless inning for the Hawaii offense, Yorke drove home Lee yet again in the fifth and walked with the bases loaded in the sixth to extend the lead to 6-0.
Junior lefthander Travis Weston (7-3) put together a very strong outing, allowing two runs while striking out eight in 7 ⅓ innings of work.
The Rainbow Warriors got those two innings in the bottom of the eighth thanks to a two-RBI single, but that’s all they would manage for the rest of the night.
Lopez’s two-RBI double in the top of the ninth closed the scoring for the night with the Mustangs up 7-2, and Franks came in to shut the door in the bottom half.
The Mustangs snapped a 13-game win streak with a 6-4 loss to the Rainbow Warriors in the final game of the season on Saturday. Saturday’s game is the first time all season the Mustangs lost when out-hitting their opponent.
Senior right-hander Dylan Villalobos got his last collegiate start and went one full inning and faced two batters in the second. Villalobos rarely pitched more than a few innings all season, as he has been managing an injury.
Hawaii put the first run on the board in the bottom of the second when a walk and three consecutive hit-by-pitches advanced Kyson Donahue around the bases. The Rainbow Warriors tallied another in the third to make it a 2-0 game.
The score remained the same for the majority of the middle third of the series finale. In the sixth, Stafford singled and advanced to second on a throwing error by the Hawaii shortstop.
Lopez then took the first pitch he saw to right field for an RBI single to score the first run of the day for Cal Poly.
After another batter, Hawaii took out their starting pitcher to try to get out of the jam. They did so successfully, stranding two baserunners and keeping the score at 2-1.
In the home frame of the sixth, Hawaii rode the high of getting out of the jam. The Rainbow Warriors exploded for four runs to give them needed insurance runs.
The first run of the rally scored on a wild pitch from sophomore righty Bryce Warrecker. Back-to-back doubles scored the other three runs, putting the score at 6-1 in favor of Hawaii.
The score remained the same until the top of the ninth, where the Mustangs rallied for an attempted come-from-behind victory like they did on Friday.
After graduate outfielder John Lagattuta singled and redshirt senior pinch hitter Mark Armstrong got on via catcher’s interference, Lee took a 2-2 pitch and pulled it down the right-field line for an RBI double.
Then, a fly ball off the bat of Yorke was lost in the Hawaiian sun out in left field. The error allowed two more to score to bring the score to 6-4. It also capped the season off with a 32-game on-base streak for Yorke.
The Mustangs could not continue the rally, however, and ended with two wins and one loss in the final series of the season.
With the Big West not having a regional tournament, the Mustangs will have to wait patiently to see if their outside chance of a postseason berth is possible. The NCAA Selection Show will air on ESPN2 on Monday, May 30 at 9 a.m.
The Mustangs won nine out of ten conference matchups. Their three series losses on the season were to Washington and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) (out of conference) and UC Santa Barbara (Big West).
The team ended the season with a .290 team batting average, a .378 on-base percentage and a .429 slugging percentage.
On the mound, the team averaged a 4.47 ERA with 560 strikeouts in 58 games (9.66 average). Three complete games were thrown, two by Weston and one by Thorpe. The relievers earned 15 saves, Franks with 11, and the team ended the season with a +97 run differential.