The Cal Poly Baseball team lost all three weekend games to California in the Mustangs’ first games of the season in Baggett Stadium.
The Mustangs (1-6) lost the series opener against the Bears (4-6) on Friday, Feb. 22 by a final score of 10-2.
Despite the final score, senior right-hander Jarred Zill broke his career high record with 13 strikeouts over the course of five innings.
“I knew I had to go out there and compete,” Zill said. “I was trying to set a tone for us to go out and play with courage and I was pretty fired up. Luckily, I was able to get some swings and misses when I needed to.”
While Cal Poly loaded the bases in the bottom of the first inning, sophomore designated hitter Blake Wagenseller struck out to end the inning and left three runners on base.
In the second inning, an error by freshman shortstop Willie Cano allowed Cal to take the lead after Cano missed his throw at first base. Two unearned runs were scored as a result, ending the first inning in a 2-0 lead for the Bears.
The Mustangs loaded the bases again in the bottom of the second and sophomore right fielder Elijah Greene arrived on base with a fielder’s choice that brought in a run from third base, making the score 2-1.
Junior center fielder Bradlee Beesley tied the game at 2-2 later in the inning with a line drive to left field. Beesley went 4-4 in the game, hitting four singles with one RBI in the game as well.
“It was exciting, you know,” Beesley said. “Just glad to be back here in front of the home crowd. I put some good swings on the balls and fire them up [and] do it for my team. Unfortunately we didn’t get the win, but I’m glad to put some good swings on the balls.”
After the Bears’ second baseman Darren Baker reached first base on a walk in the top of the third, first baseman Andrew Vaughn turned the tides permanently in Cal’s favor when he homered to left field to give Cal a 4-2 lead.
Two unearned runs off a throwing error and wild pitch in the fourth inning increased Cal’s lead to 6-2. From the fourth inning on, the Mustangs did not get a runner past second base.
Cal would increase added two more runs in both the sixth and ninth innings.
The sixth inning saw a triple from Bears center fielder Brandon McIlwain bring in shortstop Sam Wezniak, followed by McIlwain scoring himself on a fielder’s choice that got left fielder Connor Mack out at first base.
Cal’s designated hitter Grant Holman added two insurance runs in the ninth inning with a single up the middle, scoring Korey Lee and Andrew Vaughn to bring the game to its final scoreline of 10-2.
“We can’t beat ourselves. It’s been [the] conversation all along. We’re not talented enough to give teams extra opportunities,” head coach Larry Lee said after the loss. That’s just one area that we need to clean up, but that’s just one of many.”
In the second game of the series on Saturday, Feb. 23, the Mustangs came out with strong hitting from Beesley and sophomore Tate Samuelson but ultimately fell to the Bears 5-4.
“We played alright today better [at the plate] than we have the last couple games and we are are trying to build off that,” Samuelson said.
In the top of the first the Bears scored one run off an RBI single from Max Flower. The Mustangs responded to the Bears one-run-lead with an RBI single by sophomore Nick DiCarlo. Samuelson carried on this momentum with a three RBI double bringing the Mustang’s lead 4-1 over the Bears in the bottom of the first.
The Mustangs held the bears to no hits in the top of the second. Sophomore Elijah Greene had one hit in the bottom of the second, but neither team scored.
Cal’s Andrew Vaughn came out with a double to left center for the Bears, followed by Max Flower’s RBI single down the right field line in the top of the third. Cal Poly finished the third inning with two strikeouts and a pop up caught by Cal’s third baseman, still leading 4-2.
Each team had two hits in the fourth and fifth innings, but no runs. Sophomore pitcher Dylan Villalobos came in for junior pitcher Bobby Ay. The Bears grabbed the lead in the top of the sixth inning with a sacrifice fly from Brandon McIlwain for a run from Grant Holman. Vaughn came in with another single down the left field line for two RBI’s. The Bears secured a 5-4 lead at the bottom of the sixth.
Greene was walked at the bottom of the seventh, followed by Beesley’s single to advance Greene to second. Both advanced to second and third on a wild pitch from the Bears. Greene was thrown out at home after a ground ball from DiCarlo. Beesley advanced to third but two strikeouts ended the inning with no runs by either team.
“In the later innings we had great opportunity to take the lead and we just didn’t capitalize on the opportunities so when we get runners in scoring positions we need to find a way to get them in,” Beesley said.
Neither team was able to score in the two remaining innings. The Mustangs’ Villalobos and Ay totaled nine strikeouts in the 5-4 loss to the Bears.
Game three started out looking good for the Mustangs, but the Bears ultimately completed the sweep with a 5-3 win.
Both teams had strong outings from their starting pitchers. Cal’s Grant Holman threw five innings of shutout baseball and only gave up five hits, however Holman was out-dueled by Cal Poly’s sophomore pitcher Darren Nelson who tossed six shutout innings and only allowed one hit.
Following a pitching change by the Bears in the 6th inning, the Mustangs’ bats sprang to life. Sophomore left fielder Cole Cabrera got things started with a single up the middle to drive in first baseman Tate Samuelson.
The Mustangs offense kept going after a fielding error by Cal allowed sophomore designated hitter John Mackay and Cabrera to score, giving Cal Poly a 3-0 lead. Cal responded after Nelson was taken out in favor of senior right-hander Michael Clark, putting up three runs of their own in the 8th inning.
The Cal Poly bullpen could not recover, as freshman left-hander Chase Watkins and freshman right-hander Bryan Woo both gave up a run in the ninth inning to put Cal up 5-3. The Cal Poly offense could not muster a comeback despite a double by Beesley, dropping its third-straight game 5-3.
Despite a fairly average score both teams were making solid contact throughout the game, there were only seven strikeouts combined, three on Cal hitters and four on Cal Poly hitters.
The Mustangs finish their homestand against CSU Bakersfield on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 6 p.m. The team will then travel to play Washington for a three game series starting Friday, March 1 at 6 p.m.