Cal Poly baseball (4-3) won two out of three games in their second series of the season against Missouri State (3-4). The Mustangs took game one and then took the second game of the doubleheader on Sunday in Arlington, Tex.
The Mustangs started the road trip with a 5-1 win on Saturday, Feb. 26, at the Clay Gould Ballpark.
Sophomore right-hander Drew Thorpe was on the mound for Cal Poly and struck out 10 batters over seven innings of work. After Thorpe, senior righty Dylan Villalobos came in relief and pitched the last two innings, striking out four of his own.
The game took place in Arlington, Tex. due to rough weather in Missouri. Nonetheless, the temperature was 38 degrees at opening pitch in Arlington on Saturday.
With two outs in the first, senior cleanup hitter Tate Samuelson hit an RBI double to left-center, scoring senior infielder Matt Lopez, who got on base with a walk.
Redshirt freshman infielder Matthias Haas followed that with an RBI single that brought Samuelson home. Sophomore and Texas-native Reagan Doss then hit an RBI single to cap off the two-out rally and extend the Mustang lead to 3-0 in the first inning.
After two great innings of work, Thorpe let up his first hit of the game in the third, but Missouri State remained scoreless and the Mustang lead stayed at 3-0.
In the fourth inning, freshman catcher Ryan Stafford hit a double to left-center with two outs, which set up an RBI single by sophomore shortstop Brooks Lee to make the score 4-0.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Missouri State singled and scored on an RBI double to cut the Cal Poly lead to 4-1. However, this was all the offense that the Bears could muster.
In the sixth, 6-foot-3-inch, 270-pound first baseman Joe Yorke led off with a double, and graduate outfielder John Lagattuta hit Yorke home with a double down the first baseline to get the run back and make the score 5-1.
After Thorpe’s outing ended after the seventh inning, Villalobos struck out two batters in both the eighth and ninth innings to secure the victory 5-1 for the Mustangs.
Stafford, Lee, Samuelson, Haas and Doss all had two hits in the 13-hit opening game for the Mustangs.
Sunday Game One
After quickly jumping out to a 5-0 lead, the Mustangs gave up eight unanswered runs to the Bears and dropped the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader by a score of 8-5.
As the game progressed, it appeared to be all Mustangs. A groundout by Lee (2-4 with one RBI and run scored each) in the second inning scored the first Mustang run, and the combination of a sacrifice fly from Yorke and an RBI single by junior designated hitter Collin Villegas made it 3-0 in the third.
Villegas, who finished the game 3-4 with two RBIs and a run scored, homered in the fifth inning, and Haas grounded into a double play, scoring a run in the sixth for the 5-0 lead.
However, the lead didn’t last very long, as, following a single and two quick outs, Missouri State managed to load the bases in the bottom of the fifth. On the very first pitch from redshirt junior lefty Travis Weston (5.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 7 K on 107 pitches), second baseman Mason Hull drove a grand slam down the left-field line to make it 5-4, and instantly bring the Bears back into the game.
Both teams remained quiet until the bottom of the eighth inning, when after loading the bases again, Missouri State shortstop Will Duff cleared them, as he laced senior righthander Jason Franks’ full-count pitch to the gap in right-center field for a three-run triple. This clutch hit gave Missouri State its first—and what would end up being only—lead of the series.
Later in the inning, a sacrifice fly cashed in their final run, and the home team would hold on in the Mustangs’ frame of the ninth for the 8-4 win.
On the scorecard, it was Franks (1-1) who took the loss for the Mustangs while the win went to Trey Ziegenbein (1-1), who pitched three scoreless innings out of the bullpen for Missouri State.
Sunday Game Two
Despite some late-innings stress, the Mustangs were able to hang on for a 14-12 win in the nightcap in Texas. Sunday’s split with Missouri State gave Cal Poly its first series win of the season.
Much like in the day game, Cal Poly’s offense jumped out to an early lead thanks to a hot start from its offense. With one out in the first inning, following a double from Stafford and a Lee walk, Samuelson ripped a two-run single down the right-field line for what would be his only hit of the contest. And, thanks to an RBI single from Yorke two batters later, the Mustangs had a 3-0 lead.
Cal Poly scored early and often, and at various points in the game, found themselves leading by scores of 4-0, 7-3 and—thanks to Lee’s three-run home run (his first of the year)—10-4 midway through the contest.
However, Missouri State would not go quietly, as they scored two more runs in the fifth inning to leave the score at 10-6 in favor of Cal Poly.
The Mustangs would score their final—and difference-making—runs in the seventh inning. With two outs and the bases loaded, Lopez drove the first pitch he saw from Caden Wilson over the left-center field wall for a grand slam home run, giving the Mustangs a 14-6 cushion.
That cushion turned out to be very valuable, as Missouri State battled back with three runs in both the eighth and ninth innings, bringing the potential game-tying run to the plate with one out in the bottom of the ninth.
True freshman lefty Noah Larkin, pitching in his first college game, was summoned from the bullpen and induced back-to-back ground-outs to Lee to end the game, and give the Mustangs a 14-12 win.
Larkin earned his first save while sophomore righthander Derek True (2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K on 42 pitches) improved his record to 1-1, receiving the win in relief of starter Kaden Sheedy (4 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 5 K on 69 pitches). The loss went to Bears starter Dan Merrill (1-1) as he surrendered seven runs and seven hits over 2.2 innings of work.
Offensively, it was Lee and Lopez who led the way for Cal Poly, combining for seven total RBIs.
Cal Poly will look to start a winning streak when they return home to face Portland on Wednesday, Mar. 2 at 6 p.m. inside Baggett Stadium.