The Cal Poly baseball team lost all three games last weekend against No. 9 UCLA, marking the second time the Mustangs have been swept this season. Power hitting was key for the PAC-12 leading UCLA Bruins (29-10) as they averaged seven runs per game against the Mustangs (19-23, 6-6) in the series.
Cal Poly opened their three-game series against UCLA with a 5-9 loss Friday night at Baggett Stadium. The Mustangs fought back from being down 1-4 to take a 5-4 lead, but blew their lead in the eighth inning.
The Bruins jumped out to a two-run lead in the top of the first inning after back-to-back two-out hits. They capped off their first inning rally with an RBI double by designated hitter Jack Stronach.
In the bottom of the third, the Mustangs looked poised to cut the two-run deficit in half, but UCLA left-fielder Jeremy Ydens made a diving catch to rob Mustang junior shortstop Kyle Marinconz of a RBI single. Ydens’s spectacular play kept the Mustangs off the scoreboard until the fourth inning when junior catcher Nick Meyer ripped an RBI single up the middle.
Shortly after, in the top half of the fifth inning, Ydens hit a hanging slider over the wall to extend the Bruins’ lead to 4-1. The Mustangs responded in the sixth and seventh innings, scoring two runs in each inning.
The Mustangs briefly took the lead in the seventh inning, but it did not last long as UCLA scored five runs off three different Cal Poly relievers to bury the Mustangs.
Cal Poly dropped Saturday night’s game to UCLA with a 3-6 loss. The Mustangs held the Bruins scoreless in eight of the nine innings but the wheels came off in the sixth as freshman starting right-hander Darren Nelson gave up five runs and sophomore left-handed reliever Thomas Trinados gave up one.
“We need players to step up,” head coach Larry Lee said. “We made four mistakes that inning defensively and it led to six runs and we had a chance to do something about it and we didn’t.”
The Mustangs were unable to overcome their disastrous sixth inning. They managed a few more hits, but never strung anything together to narrow the lead.
The bottom of the final inning was marred by what the players believed was a blown call by the umpires that resulted in a quick out for the Mustangs. The ball deflected foul off sophomore third baseman Dylan Doherty’s bat then hit his foot and bounced off the catcher before rolling over to the pitcher. The umpire never called it foul so the pitcher tossed it to first for the out. Players and fans seemed to believe it was foul but the umpires never called it.
“We thought the ball hit the batter’s foot and umpires didn’t see it that way,” Lee said.
Cal Poly’s losing streak reached four games after UCLA completed the three-game non-conference sweep Sunday afternoon in Baggett Stadium, defeating the Mustangs 6-4.
Despite the losing streak, the Mustangs currently sit three games behind Big West Cal State Fullerton. UCLA’s sweep lifts their win streak to seven games and improves their overall record to 29-10 overall, tied with Stanford for first place in the PAC 12 Conference.
Cal Poly trailed 0-3 after the first inning but a throwing error off a sacrifice bunt allowed Meyer to score the first run of the game for the Mustangs. An RBI double off the bat of sophomore second baseman Scott Ogrin and another throwing error allowed Cal Poly to tie the game 3-3.
But UCLA was able to score single runs in the fifth and sixth and a solo homerun by second baseman Chase Strumpf in the seventh inning gave the Bruins a 6-3 lead.
Cal Poly tried to rally with senior left-fielder Colby Barrick scoring on a wild pitch in the ninth inning but with runners on second and third, sophomore right fielder Bradley Beesley flew out to end the game.
UCLA right-hander Ryan Garcia (5-0) tossed five innings for the win, allowing three runs and three hits and eight strikeouts. Cal Poly junior right-hander Michael Clark (3-4) took the loss, pitching five innings and allowing five runs on seven hits while striking out eight batters.
Next, Cal Poly will host Santa Clara in a non-conference game Tuesday, May 1 at 6 p.m. in Baggett Stadium.