The Mustangs found themselves behind before they even had a chance to get ahead.
Despite a resilient three-run second inning, the Cal Poly baseball team couldn’t bounce back from an error-filled, two-run first inning, as the Mustangs dropped the last game in their three-game series 6-4 to CSU Bakersfield on Sunday at Baggett Stadium.
“The left-handed pitcher (Jeff McKenzie) just kind of left us off balance today,” head coach Larry Lee said. “We hit into too many easy outs and didn’t put any pressure on him.”
Despite the loss, the Mustangs — after posting two straight dominant wins over Bakersfield on Friday and Saturday — still walk away with a series win over the Roadrunners. But the Mustangs hardly looked like that same team on Sunday, as Cal Poly opened with some faulty defense behind Kyle Brueggemann.
Mitch Haniger dove for a ball in right center, only to have it bounce out of his glove, allowing the game’s leadoff batter Andrew Letourneau to reach second base. Then, after Matt Russell misplayed ball in left field from Kevin Younger, the Roadrunners brought the first run of the game across the plate.
Tommy Pluschkell then committed an error at first to put runners at first and second with no outs, and Tyler Shryock followed with an RBI single up the middle to make it 2-0 through the first half inning.
Cal Poly opened the second inning with back-to-back singles to left field from Nick Torres and Chris Hoo, and the two advanced to second and third off a wild pitch. In the next at-bat, Russell brought them home off a two-RBI double lined over first base.
“I was feeling a bit bad about the first inning,” Russell said. “I made a mistake in the outfield, and I knew I needed to come up big for our team. I was just looking for a pitch I could hit hard, happened to get one on the inner half of the plate and I just turned on it. Luckily, I kept it fair and two runs scored.”
That allowed even more runs to score. After an error from the Bakersfield third baseman put runners at first and third, Denver Chavez put the Mustangs ahead by one with a sacrifice fly to center field.
Bakersfield came back with three runs in the third inning and another run in the seventh inning as the Mustangs combined for five hits — one being a Chavez home run in the seventh inning to cut the deficit to two — in the next six innings. It wasn’t enough, though, as Cal Poly failed to cap the series sweep over Bakersfield.
“Sometimes, especially when we’re doing well, you can get complacent out there,” Chavez said. “Just make little mistakes, things like that tend to snowball sometimes, and I think we just let that focus get away from us a little bit.”
The first two games were a different story. Friday, Joey Wagman struck out a career-high 10 batters in eight innings, giving up one run on four hits, as the Mustangs cruised to a 6-1 win over Bakersfield in the series opener.
The Mustangs gave Wagman support at the plate, with Torres belting a home run over the left field wall in the second inning and Tim Wise sending the first pitch of the third inning over the left field wall to put the Mustangs up 3-1.
The team wouldn’t look back, scoring two runs in the fourth and one in the fifth to shut the door on the Roadrunners.
Saturday, the Mustangs, again, got it done offensively. Behind starting pitcher Kyle Anderson, Cal Poly raced out to a 10-0 lead through four innings. That was all Anderson needed, as he got the win after pitching five innings to give up four runs on eight hits.
That set the stage for Sunday, where Bruggemann gave up five runs on seven hits in 2 1/3 innings to get the loss. Matt Imhof came on in relief and pitched 3 1/3 innings, giving up on runs on three hits.
Offensively, Hoo went 2 for 3, Chavez went 1 for 3 with two RBI and Russell went 1 for 4 with two RBI.