While playing in front of over 1,1oo fans Friday night at Baggett Stadium, the Mustangs dropped the first game of a three-game set to Long Beach State. Cal Poly (10-27, 3-10 Big West) came up short after a ninth-inning rally and lost the series opener.
Head coach Larry Lee shook his head in dismay as he described the grim truth about the team’s disappointing season.
“We’re not in a position to fight for league title at this point, so we’re trying to put players out there who’ve earned the right to play to see what they’ve got,” he said.
Cal Poly broke the 0-0 tie in the first inning when center fielder Adam Melker, who went 3-for-4, hit a one-out double and later scored on a single by right fielder Bobby Crocker.
In the top of the third inning, Long Beach tied the game after catcher Kellen Hoime sliced a double down the right-field line and scored on a sacrifice fly. The score remained 1-1 until the fourth.
Long Beach State put up crooked numbers in the fourth, fifth and sixth inning, adding 11 runs and putting the game to rest.
Despite the tumultuous middle innings, Cal Poly kept playing the odds.
“We’re far from being a good team at this point, but we have to roll the dice and find out what we have for next year,” Lee said.
Making his first appearance of the season at second base for the injured Matt Jensen, freshman Denver Chavez, who until this game had utilized his redshirt, went 2-for-5 and recorded four putouts. He scored once and had an RBI in his debut.
The Mustangs scored three runs over three innings and at the end of seven the score was 12-4.
Going into the bottom of the ninth, the Mustangs trailed 12-4. After a four run rally, the score was 12-8, but a game-ending double play sealed the deal — Cal Poly fans went home with their spirits low.
Lee said the coaching staff has gone through its negative stage and remains positive.
“As a coach you don’t enjoy getting our butts kicked, but that’s where we’re at, building for the future, getting guys in there who have earned it,” he said.
But, looking over the post-game report, Lee seemed at a loss for words.
“It was tough to overcome the middle part of the game,” he said.
And it’s tough to remain positive when players keep suffering injuries.
Compared to last year, Lee said, there’s no real common denominator to pinpoint why they’re occurring. Last season, a flu decimated the team for three months.
This year players are going down with “freak injuries.”
The following players for the Mustangs have suffered from or are suffering injuries this season: Mike Miller, Ross Brayton, Evan Busby (back), Matt Jensen (knee), Joey Wagman (tricep tendonitus), Steven Fischback (shoulder), Mason Radeke (elbow), D.J. Gentile (wrist), Mitch Haniger (back) and infielder Corey Dotzler (shoulder).
Cal Poly will return to the diamond tomorrow for the second game of the three-game series against Long Beach State. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.