Cal Poly Baseball picked up its first road series win of the year after taking two of three over the University of Utah from Friday, May 12 through Sunday, May 14 at Smith’s Ballpark in Utah.
The Mustangs (18-31, 9-15 Big West) got a break from conference play for the week to take on the Utes (21-29-1, 8-18-1, Pac-12).
Cal Poly couldn’t contain the Utah offense in the series opener, falling 18-6.
The Mustangs struck first in the opening frame after junior shortstop Aaron Casillas singled back up the middle to plate two runs.
After some scoreless frames, Utah found the board in the bottom of the third as a squeeze bunt and a pair of singles plated four runs.
The Utes continued the onslaught in the next two frames, scoring eight combined runs in the fourth and fifth innings to go up 12-2.
The Mustangs showed some signs of life in the top of the sixth when freshman designated hitter Tate Shimao singled up the middle to plate one run, then scored on a senior second baseman Taison Corio triple to cut into the lead at 12-4.
However, Utah responded right back in the bottom of the inning with four more runs to push the advantage to 16-4.
Sophomore catcher Ryan Stafford picked up his 16th double and plated another Mustang run in the seventh, which brought the score to 16-5.
Once again, Utah responded in the bottom of the inning, scoring on a fielder’s choice to make it 17-5.
Shimao homered in the eighth inning to complete the two hardest parts of the cycle, but the Utes once again had an answer with a homer of their own to complete the 18-6 win.
It was a bad day to be a pitcher, as 39 hitters reached safely across both teams. Junior righthander Bryce Warrecker (3-5) was tagged with the loss for the Mustangs, as he gave up seven runs in 3 ⅔ innings.
Offense was once again in large supply for the second game of the series on Saturday, resulting in a 9-8, come-from-behind victory for the Mustangs.
At first, though, it looked like the Green and Gold would be in for a second straight rout by the Utes.
The Mustangs once again got on the board first, thanks to an RBI single from senior left fielder Collin Villegas in the first to go up 1-0.
Casillas extended the Cal Poly lead in the fourth with an RBI single of his own that scored Casillas, giving the Mustangs a 2-0 advantage for the second straight day.
And, for the second straight day, Utah put up a crooked number to take the lead right back, exploding for a six-run fourth inning.
The big fourth inning saw the Utes collectively hitting for the cycle via two singles, two doubles, one triple and one home run. Sophomore righthander Steven Brooks, who had been scoreless through his first three innings, was chased before recording a single out in the fourth and allowing five runs.
He was charged with his sixth after redshirt junior reliever Ryan Baum allowed a two-out RBI single, giving the Utes a 6-2 lead after four innings.
The Mustangs weren’t quite ready to roll over, however. While they did allow Utah to plate another run in the home frame of the fifth, they themselves put two across in the top half, putting the score at 7-4 heading into the sixth inning of play.
It was during that sixth inning that Cal Poly put up a crooked number of its own and took back the lead after a five-run frame.
The first six batters of the inning all produced hits, and Shimao provided the Mustangs with their first runs of the inning after cranking a two-run home run to right field on the first pitch of the at-bat, trimming the score to 7-6 and giving him his first collegiate home run.
Cal Poly wasn’t done, however, as Stafford roped a two-run double to the gap in right-center field just three batters later, giving Cal Poly an 8-7 advantage.
Two batters later, the Mustangs put across their fifth run of the inning, as Stafford scored on an RBI groundout by Casillas, bringing the score to 9-7 and giving them a valuable insurance run.
The game only got more intense in its late innings, as the Utes put one run across in their half of the eighth to cut the Mustang lead to one.
Cal Poly went scoreless in its half of the ninth, and then the game was provided yet another layer of drama, as Utah had a runner reach with one out in the ninth, giving them a runner in scoring position before the game was halted for 45 minutes by rain and lightning.
However, the delay proved to do nothing but delay the end of the Mustangs’ win. Upon the resumption of the contest, junior reliever Kyle Scott was summoned from the bullpen and, after giving up a four-pitch walk, picked up the final two outs to secure the win.
The Mustangs used late-game heroics to earn a 6-4 win on Sunday and clinch the series win.
Cal Poly held the early advantage with a 3-0 lead in the first inning. After Villegas started the scoring with a comebacker, Casillas doubled to increase the lead to two. Junior first baseman Joe Yorke capped off the inning with an RBI single.
Utah responded with two in the third but the Mustangs answered back in the sixth with an RBI single from junior outfielder Jake Steels, giving them a 4-2 advantage
A two-run rally in the sixth for the Utes tied the game at 4-4.
Scoreless seventh and eighth innings then set up dramatics for the ninth.
With two outs in the top of the ninth inning, Casillas hit a double to right field to drive in two runs to break the tie and recapture the lead at 6-4.
In the bottom of the ninth, senior righthander Carlo Lopiccolo retired the side with two strikeouts to close it out, earning the series win for the Mustangs.
Lopiccolo tossed 3 1/3 hitless innings with four strikeouts to earn his first win of the season.
Cal Poly will return to Big West Conference play for a three-game series against rival UC Santa Barbara beginning on Friday, May 19 at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.