Cal Poly Baseball closed out the 2021 season with a four-game home sweep of Hawai’i from Friday, May 28 to Sunday, May 30 inside Baggett Stadium.
The Mustangs (31-25, 21-19 Big West) turned it on down the stretch this season, winning their last seven games and 11 of their last 12. Hawai’i (24-26, 16-24 Big West) ended their season on a five-game losing streak.
Game one had Cal Poly starting the series off on the right foot when they defeated the University of Hawai’i in a 13-3 rout that ended early due to the mercy rule.
Freshman pitcher Drew Thorpe pitched all seven innings for the Mustangs, making this the sixth time this season a Cal Poly pitcher threw a complete game, the most in a decade and a half. Thorpe moves his home record to 6-1 on the season with the win, and brings him to an even 6-6 on the season.
Hawai’i took an early lead in the second inning when a pair of hits brought home two runs, but the Mustangs would respond in the bottom half of the inning.
Thanks to a couple of hits and a fielding error by the Rainbow Warriors, Cal Poly evened the score when freshman infielder Nick Marinconz and junior outfielder Nick DiCarlo made trips around the bases.
The game remained quiet over the next couple innings, with Thorpe facing nine batters and getting them all out in the third, fourth, and fifth innings. The Mustangs added a third run in the fifth inning to make it 3-2.
Adam Fogel evened the score again for the University of Hawai’i with a solo home run in the top of the sixth inning. This would not only be the Rainbow Warrior’s final run of the game, but their final hit off of Thorpe as well.
The Mustangs brought the boom in a sixth inning that saw multiple Mustang hits go over the outfield wall. First was sophomore infielder Taison Corio whose right-center blast brought home freshman first baseman Joe Yorke and made the score 5-3.
Next was freshman shortstop Brooks Lee, whose season of offensive dominance continued when he took the first pitch of his at bat over the left field wall for a two-run shot, making his 10th trip around the bases for the season.
In the final inning of play, Thorpe got out the side in order rather quickly and the Mustangs continued to lay on the runs until the game ended early.
The bottom of the seventh inning got started with a pair of quick outs, but the Mustangs kicked off a red-hot rally with a pair of RBI singles.
Senior catcher Myles Emmerson continued the two-out rally when he added another single and brought home Corio to make the score 10-3.
Hawai’i could not stop the Mustangs’ momentum as Lee and junior infielder Tate Samuelson had back-to-back RBI doubles. Those hits brought home three more runners and walked-off the game by establishing a 10-run lead after the seventh, invoking the mercy rule.
Every Mustang that went to bat recorded a hit against Hawai’i pitching. Other notable storylines from the game include Emmerson and Lee moving their hitting streaks to 10 games, Marinconz having his fourth three-hit game of the season, and Corio having his first four-RBI game of his collegiate career.
Lee and the rest of the Mustangs looked to continue their red-hot offense in the final three games of their series against Hawai’i.
Saturday Game 1
In the opener of Saturday’s doubleheader, the Mustangs defeated Hawai’i in a 5-4 walk-off thriller where junior left handed pitcher Andrew Alvarez (7-3) pitched 8.1 innings with only three walks.
In the bottom of the first inning, Lee opened the scoring after his RBI single brought home junior center fielder Cole Cabrera.
With one runner on base, the Rainbow Warriors tied the game at 1-1 after a groundball deflected off of Lee’s legs into the outfield which allowed the runner to score in the top of the third inning.
Hawai’i took the lead in the top of the fourth inning after Alvarez allowed a double, who then reached third base after a wild pitch. In the next at-bat, Hawai’i infielder Jacob Igawa hit a groundball which allowed the runner to score, making it 2-1.
The Mustangs responded in the bottom of the sixth inning after Lee drove a double down the right field line to get on base.
In the following at-bat, Samuelson hit a routine pop fly into the outfield, but Hawaii’s left fielder lost sight of the ball in the sun which allowed Lee to score and Samuelson to reach third base.
Cal Poly took a 3-2 lead after Corio’s sacrifice fly ball into left-center field allowed Samuelson to score from third base.
Alvarez continued to cruise through the next several innings until he was pulled from the game in top of the ninth inning after the Rainbow Warriors loaded the bases.
Freshman right hander Kyle Scott (2-2) stepped on the mound for Alvarez, who allowed Hawai’i to tie the game after a wild pitch. Then Scott gave up a base hit down the left field line which gave the Rainbow Warriors the lead heading into the bottom of the ninth.
With Marinconz on second, Corio knocked a RBI double into left-center field which tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth inning.
After Cal Poly loaded the bases with two outs, Cabrera walked to earn the winning run for the Mustangs.
Saturday Game 2
The Mustangs won their second game of their doubleheader against Hawai’i 14-4 in seven innings on Saturday.
The Rainbow Warriors started the game with two runs in the second inning. Aaron Ujimori gave the Rainbow Warriors a 1-0 lead with a RBI single before Kole Kaler hit a RBI double to extend the lead to 2-0.
The Mustangs came back from the 2-0 deficit in the second inning when they tallied three runs. Cal Poly scored two runs on a throwing error by Hawai’i which tied the game at 2-2. Then, Yorke hit an infield groundout to score another run and give the Mustangs a 3-2 lead.
However, Hawai’i scored two more runs in the third inning to take back the lead at 4-3 which were their last runs of the game.
Cal Poly scored five runs in the third inning to regain the lead at 8-4. Samuelson hit a two-RBI double to kickstart the Mustangs and give them a 5-4 lead. Then freshman outfielder Reagan Doss earned a walk with the bases loaded to earn another run. Yorke singled up the middle to score two more runs and give the Mustangs an 8-4 lead.
After sophomore pitcher Carlo Lopiccolo pitched four scoreless innings, the Mustangs would tally six more runs in the seventh inning and register their second run-rule win of the series and fifth of the year. Marinconz started the scoring with an RBI sacrifice fly. Then Doss hit a two-RBI double to give the Mustangs an 11-4 lead. The Mustangs secured the run-rule win when Yorke hit an RBI-single and Cabrera hit a two-RBI double.
The Mustangs’ offense was highlighted by Samuelson’s three-hit game and Yorke’s four RBI. Lopiccolo (1-0) earned the win after tossing five scoreless innings in relief for sophomore starting pitcher Zach Button who gave up four runs in two innings.
The Mustangs completed the four-game sweep of Hawai’i with a 6-2 victory on Sunday, May 30 in the last game of the 2021 season.
Freshman righthander Kaden Sheedy (1-2) was on the mound for Cal Poly and received the no-decision after going 4.2 innings and allowing two runs on six hits.
Offensively, the game got off to a slow start with neither side bringing a run home in the first three innings of play.
The Mustangs broke the scoreless tie with a RBI double from Lee and a RBI single from Corio in the bottom of the fourth, giving them a 2-0 lead.
To go along with taking the lead in this game, Lee’s double set the Cal Poly single-season record for doubles in a season with 26. He would also double later in the game, ending his season with a historic 27 doubles.
The Mustang lead did not last for long as the Rainbow Warriors answered quickly with two runs of their own to even the game up going into the bottom of the fifth.
However, the Cal Poly offense kept their momentum going and put up three runs as Lee, Samuelson and Marinconz all recorded RBI to bring the Mustang lead to 5-2.
Freshman righthanders Derek True and Scott slammed the door on Hawai’i, tossing a combined 4.1 innings without giving up a run.
A sac fly by Emmerson in the bottom of the eighth gave Cal Poly a 6-2 lead, which proved to be the final score.
The Mustangs ended their 2021 season with a seven-game win streak and came out on top in 11 of their last 12 games.