The Cal Poly Baseball team came away with one win in the three game series against Cal State Fullerton, played from April 5-7 inside Baggett Stadium.
The Titans (14-15, 3-3 Big West) put 16 runs past the Mustangs (13-16, 4-2) on both the Friday and Sunday games. Cal Poly still holds on to second place in the Big West, thanks to their 3-0 sweep over CSUN to open conference play.
A total of 21 hits and a six-run inning by Cal State Fullerton factored into Cal Poly’s 16-2 loss in Friday night’s series opener.
The Mustangs were outhit 21-7 and committed four errors on defense to the Titans’ one.
Performances from Titans second baseman Hank LoForte and left fielder Mitchell Berryhill assisted the Titans in their 16-run blowout. LoForte went 2-3 with three RBI and two walks. Berryhill had four hits in his six at bats.
Fullerton scored two runs in each of the first four innings of the game. Titans left fielder Isaiah Garcia had all three of his RBI by the second inning, thanks to two singles in the first and second inning.
Cal Poly’s first run came in the third inning, when sophomore right fielder Elijah Greene’s groundout brought home freshman designated hitter Conagher Sands. The Mustangs’ second and final run came in fifth inning when Greene singled up the middle to bring in junior shortstop Dylan Doherty.
The Titans scored six runs in the top of the eighth, which also saw Cal State Fullerton bat around the order. Freshman right hander Bryan Woo entered the game in the eighth, faced 10 batters and was pulled out after pitching just 2/3 of an inning. While sophomore left hander Andrew Alvarez struck out Jairus Richards to end the inning, the Titans had increased their lead to 15–2.
One more run from LaForte in the top of the ninth was the icing on the Titans’ cake, as they won the first game of the series.
Saturday night’s nationally televised match-up fared to be much better for the Mustangs, as they bested the Titans 5-3.
Junior center fielder Bradlee Beesley was pivotal in the winning result, going 3-4 with two doubles and one RBI.
Starting pitcher Bobby Ay tossed 7 1/3 scoreless innings, allowed five hits and fanned four in the process. The junior right hander received a standing ovation from the crowd at Baggett Stadium for his efforts.
“It’s something I’ll never forget for sure,” Ay said. “This is a testament to all the hard work I’ve been putting in this year and it was so great to see it work out on the field.”
The Mustangs opened up scoring in the bottom of the second, when Doherty singled to center infield. His hit brought in Sands to put Cal Poly up 1-0. Redshirt freshman second baseman Connor Gurnik added another run to the Mustangs’ lead with a sac fly to right field.
The bottom of the third began with Beesley hitting a double to the left field warning track. Beesley then scored from second off a Titans throwing error, bringing the score to 3-0.
Fielding troubles continued for the Titans in the third, as an error brought in another run for the Mustangs. Junior catcher Myles Emmerson singled to right field, and allowed Sands to reach third base and make a run towards home. Sands, however, was unable to beat the throw to the plate from Titans right fielder Jairus Richards.
On defense, the Mustangs benefitted from key plays throughout the night. Most notably, Emmerson caught the Titans’ Richards stealing second base in the fourth inning. Emmerson’s beam to second base beat Richards and caught him out to end the inning.
“I think our Achilles heel this year – a big part of it is — is we’ve struggled defensively,” head coach Larry Lee said. “Tonight, we played our loose ball and [Cal State Fullerton] had to earn everything instead of us giving them extra opportunities.”
The Titans did get on the board in the eighth inning thanks to a triple from center fielder Mitchell Berryhill. Berryhill’s deep hit into center field brought in second baseman Hank LaForte, who scored from first base.
Another triple for the Titans, this time from designated hitter Daniel Cope, set Cal State Fullerton up for another run to come in. Richards recorded a double for the Titans to bring in Cope and bring the score to 5-3. The run was too little, too late, as senior right hander Michael Clark struck out pinch hitter Jordan Hernandez to win the game and even the series at 1-1.
Cal Poly’s momentum from Saturday night was quickly halted when Cal State Fullerton smothered the Mustangs for a 16-6 win.
Even though the previous night’s win had laid out a plan for success, Cal Poly had a hard time executing it. For the second time in the series, the Mustangs allowed 16 runs while never holding the lead.
Fullerton started early, tacking on a run in the first inning. Cal Poly quickly responded with a run of their own off of the bat of of Emmerson, following a passed ball that pushed the runner to second to tie the game at 1-1.
This would be the only point in the game where Cal Poly would not trail, as Cal State Fullerton quickly piled on four more runs to go up 5-1
Cal Poly closed the gap with Emmerson driving in a run as well as a wild pitch to close in at 5-3.
However, Cal State Fullerton delivered a death blow in the next inning with back to back homeruns to extend their lead to to 8-3.
The Titans piled on six more runs in sixth inning on the way to a 16-6 win.
After the game, Emmerson, who had been struggling at the plate, spoke about his 2 RBI game.
“I was seeing the ball really well today,” Emmerson said. “I went through a tough little stretch, but it’s just been about trusting the process and knowing my teammates can pick me up and it’s only going to go up from here.”
Emmerson then touched on how the team can learn valuable lessons from a series where they performed poorly.
“It’s important to take the things we did well from today,” Emmerson said. “I know it’s hard, but that’s how we’ll keep getting better. We can’t focus on the negative. We can only go forward.”