Cal Poly baseball won two games in a three-game series against UC Riverside from Friday, Apr. 22 through Sunday, Apr. 24 inside the Riverside Sports Complex.
The Mustangs (25-14, 11-4 Big West) were victorious in Friday and Saturday’s games, while the Highlanders (6-30, 3-15 Big West) came out on top in Sunday’s matinee. With the Sunday loss, Cal Poly drops to 3 ½ games behind Big West-leading UC Santa Barbara.
In the series opener, the Mustangs were fueled by seven runs in the opening two innings and 8 ⅔ dominant innings from sophomore starting pitcher Drew Thorpe on their way to a 9-3 win.
In the top of the first, consecutive singles from sophomore first baseman Joe Yorke and junior left fielder Collin Villegas put two runners on with two outs. Sophomore second baseman Nick Marinconz then singled to score Yorke and redshirt freshman designated hitter Matthias Haas singled to score Villegas.
A walk from senior third baseman Tate Samuelson loaded the bases, and a walk from graduate right fielder John Lagattuta scored another Cal Poly run to take a 3-0 lead.
The Mustangs kept it rolling in the second inning. Freshman catcher Ryan Stafford walked and sophomore shortstop Brooks Lee and Yorke each singled to load the bases. A Villegas single and a groundout from Marinconz scored a pair of Mustangs.
Cal Poly tacked on two more after Haas hit a sacrifice fly and Lagattuta singled, extending the Mustang lead to 7-0.
With a seven-run cushion, Thorpe rolled against the Highlander offense, recording 1-2-3 innings in six of his 8 ⅔ innings.
Cal Poly added a run in the eighth and a run in the ninth to take a 9-0 lead into the last frame.
After consecutive singles, Thorpe got two quick outs in his attempt at a complete game. A bases-clearing double chased Thorpe from the game, making way for sophomore reliever Derek True to close out the game. Another Highlander double cut the Cal Poly lead to 9-3, but UC Riverside was unable to narrow it further.
Thorpe improved to 6-1 on the season, striking out 10 with no walks in his suburb outing.
In game two, an 11th-inning double from redshirt senior pinch hitter Mark Armstrong proved to be the difference in Cal Poly’s 4-3 victory.
Once again, the Mustangs jumped out in front early after Lee doubled and Yorke singled in the top of the first to take a 1-0 lead.
The two sides stalemated until sophomore center fielder Reagan Doss delivered a two-out double in the top of the fourth to extend Cal Poly’s lead to 3-0.
In the bottom of the sixth, UC Riverside scored two runs on three hits to cut the Mustang lead to 3-2. The Highlanders tied the game at 3-3 in the seventh on a fielder’s choice.
The game needed extra innings to determine a victor after the two squads remained tied at 3-3 at the end of nine innings.
After a scoreless tenth, Armstrong delivered the go-ahead double to score Lee, retaking the lead 4-3.
Senior reliever Jason Franks (3-1) closed out the bottom half to secure the win and the series for the Mustangs.
In the series finale, UC Riverside’s offense erupted to pull off an 8-3 victory to salvage a win.
The Highlanders scored two runs in the first to grab their first lead of the series, 2-0.
Cal Poly answered in the second, thanks to an RBI triple from Hass and an RBI single from Samuelson to tie the game at 2-2.
In the bottom of the third, UCR tacked on two more to retake the lead. After two more in the fourth, the Highlanders held a 6-2 advantage.
An RBI single from Yorke cut the Riverside lead to 6-3 in the fifth.
A run in the fifth and one in the sixth for the Highlanders capped the scoring for both squads, resulting in an 8-3 UCR win.
Senior starting pitcher Dylan Villalobos (0-2) went just three innings, allowing four runs on three hits to take his second loss of the season.
Cal Poly will hit the road on Tuesday, Apr. 26 as they travel to play the Santa Clara Broncos for a non-conference game inside Schott Stadium at 6 p.m.