Cal Poly recovered on the final day of the three-game road series at UC Irvine from May 10-11, picking up one win after dropping the first two games.
The Mustangs (24-25, 13-5 Big West), who were looking to overtake UC Santa Barbara in the Big West standings, remain in second place in the conference.
Cal Poly’s late comeback attempt was stifled as the Mustangs dropped the opening game 7-3.
Freshman starting pitcher Chase Watkins got rattled early after giving up a three-run double in the third inning to Anteater first baseman Adrian Damla. Watkins was quickly relieved by sophomore pitcher Dylan Villalobos who got out of the inning without any further damage, as UC Irvine lead 3-0.
The Anteaters tacked on another run in the fourth inning, again through a double by Damla.
Cal Poly again went to their bullpen, bringing in freshman pitcher Ryan Jameson, who threw four dominant shutout innings. Jameson only allowed two hits and struck out three batters. However, Cal Poly could not get anything going offensively and entered the eighth inning still trailing 4-0.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Cal Poly’s bats finally broke through. Sophomore first baseman Tate Samuelson came up with a clutch two-run single down to left field to close the UC Irvine lead to 4-2. Next up to bat was Cal Poly’s red-hot freshman designated hitter Conagher Sands, who smacked a double to bring home Samuelson, bringing the Mustangs within one run of a tie, trailing 4-3.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Cal Poly opted to bring in senior relief pitcher Michael Clark. A costly fielding error by Cal Poly led to three runs crossing the plate. UC Irvine won 7-3.
In an eventual 8-0 win, UC Irvine made it tough for the Mustangs in the second game of the series on Saturday, April 11. The Mustangs managed just four hits over the course of eight scoreless innings as the Anteaters clinched the series win.
Junior righthander Bobby Ay (7-1) recorded his first loss of the season after allowing six runs and seven hits over five innings. He walked away with 2 walks and five strikeouts. Ay had been 7-0 with a 2.50 ERA over his past nine starts this season.
In the first inning, Cal Poly stepped up to the plate with four singles from junior Myles Emmerson and Samuelson. But after that, the Mustangs struggled at the plate for the rest of the game. It was not until the fifth and seventh innings that junior Jack Kuzma and sophomore Nick DiCarlo had the only other two singles for the Mustangs.
UC Irvine opened the scoring in the seconding inning when Mikey Filia and Christian Koss both hit triples to right field.
The Anteaters scored three runs in the third inning, two due to Adrian Damla’s double to right center. Koss then singled through the gap in the right side, scoring Damla. UC Irvine led 4-0 at the bottom of the third.
Brandon Lewis hit his 13th home run of the season with two RBI in the bottom of the fourth, bringing the score 6-0 over the Mustangs.
DiCarlo had the fourth hit for the Mustangs in the top of the seventh. UC Irvine did not score again until the bottom of the seventh inning when Damla scored an unearned run off a throwing error at third base. Koss then lined out to left field, a sacrifice fly, scoring Ryan Johnson to complete UC Irvine’s 8-0 series-clinching win.
Following two tough losses, Cal Poly needed something big to steal the final game of the series. The Mustangs did not have to wait long, scoring five runs in the first inning and carrying that momentum to an 8-3 victory.
Samuelson sparked Cal Poly’s big first inning by hitting a ball into left field for the opening run.
Sands once again followed up in a big way, sending a ball over the left field wall for his first collegiate home run. Extending his hitting streak to 22 games, Sands gave the Mustangs the 3-0 lead.
Cal Poly brought a fourth run across after sophomore left fielder Cole Cabrera was walked with the bases loaded.
The monster inning was capped after junior outfielder Bradlee Beesley roped a single down the left field line to make the score 5-0.
On the mound, sophomore starting lefthander Andrew Alvarez pitched four dominant innings before running into trouble in the fifth. Alvarez limited the damage to two runs before turning the ball over to Clark, who only allowed one more run, halting the score at 5-3.
Clark pitched another 3 2/3 innings out of bullpen without allowing a run.
The Mustangs capitalized on Anteater errors to extend their lead to 8-3 in the sixth inning.
The combination of Clark and a scoreless ninth inning by sophomore pitcher Taylor Dollard shut down UC Irvine, holding them scoreless for the remainder of the game for the 8-3 win.