The Mustangs pitching staff surrendered just six runs in 27 innings against UCLA.
[follow id =”CPMustangSports”]
LOS ANGELES — The Cal Poly baseball team came to UCLA with intent of making a statement to the college baseball world by knocking off last year’s national champions. Sunday afternoon, the Mustangs accomplished that task by winning the rubber match of a three-game series against the No. 12 Bruins 9-1 at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
“Overall, a very good start to the season and to come down here and beat a team of the caliber of UCLA will really pay dividends later in the year,” head coach Larry Lee said. “It’s better to win the series after losing Friday night when your best guy’s (junior right-hander Matt Imhof) on the mound and he gets hit around a little bit.”
Sophomore designated hitter Brian Mundell got the scoring started early Sunday. With a man on second and two outs, the 6-foot-3 sophomore took a fastball and powered it over the wall in left field. Mundell hit a home run in each game of the weekend series.
“I had the confidence to trust my approach and stick to what I’ve been doing and try to have success with it again,” Mundell said. “(The pitching) was the best we’ve have seen all year.”
The Bruins answered with a run in the bottom of the inning after UCLA catcher Shane Zeile drove in Brian Carroll with a single to center. With a man on first and one out, the Mustang defense stepped up and turned a 3-4-3 double play to put an end to the Bruins’ threat.
Cal Poly brought men home in each of the first four innings. In the top of the second, junior left fielder Zack Zehner led off the inning with a single. He was moved over to second before senior catcher Chris Hoo drove him in with a sharply hit single to center field.
The timely hitting continued in the top of the third. With two outs and men on first and third, Zehner hit a sinking line drive to right field, which led to a UCLA error and two more Cal Poly runs.
In the top of the fourth Nick Torres came up with men on second and third and lined a pitch to center field to extend the score to 7-1.
Through four innings, the Mustangs had already matched their run total from the previous night’s victory. From then on, Cal Poly starter Casey Bloomquist was in cruise control. The sophomore pitched to contact and allowed the Mustang defense to do the rest as they turned double plays to quickly quiet UCLA rallies in the first and third innings.
With the bases loaded and one out in the sixth, Lee opted to pull Bloomquist and hand the ball over to junior lefty Taylor Chris. Bloomquist’s final line read four hits and one earned run in five innings of work.
Chris promptly ushered a ground ball to second baseman Mark Mathias, who turned the 4-6-3 double play, Cal Poly’s third of the afternoon, to end the UCLA rally.
A tandem of Chris and junior Reed Reilly continued the trend of zeros on the scoreboard. The Mustangs pitching staff surrendered just six runs in 27 innings against UCLA.
Coming into the season, Lee identified the depth of the pitching staff as a strength for the Mustangs.
“We need to continue to get better,” Lee told his team after the game.
Moving forward, the Mustangs travel to San Jose State on Tuesday and then return to Los Angeles to face USC in another three-game series next weekend.