Tate Samuelson (11) slides into home with Brooks Lee (22) clapping as Cal Poly Baseball takes on UCLA at Baggett Stadium on Saturday, March 13, 2021. (MANDATORY CREDIT: Kyle Calzia / Mustang News)

Cal Poly Baseball pulled off two upsets against No. 6 UCLA in a three-game home series from March 12-14 inside Baggett Stadium.

The Mustangs (8-5) earned their first series win against the Bruins (10-5) since 2014.

Friday

In the series opener, the Mustangs edged out a 5-4 win against the Bruins behind two RBIs from both redshirt freshman shortstop Brooks Lee and redshirt junior infielder Matt Lopez.

Redshirt freshman pitcher Drew Thorpe (2-0) got the start for Cal Poly, his fourth of the young season.

UCLA got the scoring started early, bringing one run home in the first and adding on two more in the third. The Mustangs were unable to get a run on the board in the first three innings, giving the Bruins a 3-0 lead going into the fourth.

After Thorpe retired the side in the top half of the fourth inning, Lee drove a triple down the right field line to score redshirt junior outfielder Cole Cabrera and redshirt senior catcher Myles Emmerson, who each walked to begin the inning. This extra base hit cut the UCLA lead to 3-2.

Redshirt freshman pitcher Kyle Scott relieved Thorpe in the sixth after a line drive struck him in his throwing arm. Thorpe ended the night with three earned runs and seven hits allowed in 4.1 innings of work, including eight strikeouts.

Following a scoreless fifth inning, Lopez drove home two runs on a single to left field after he drove the at bat to a full count, bringing home Cabrera and Lee. Lopez’s RBIs gave the Mustangs a 4-3 lead going into the seventh.

After both squads went scoreless in the seventh, the Bruins pushed one run across in the eighth on a groundout to second base, tying the score at four runs apiece.

Heading into the eighth inning chasing one run, redshirt junior infielder Tate Samuelson drew a walk, which was followed by a wild pitch that allowed Samuelson to advance to second. A flyout to center field from Lopez gave Samuelson a pass to third base. Later in the inning, an error by the Bruin shortstop off the bat of redshirt junior outfielder Nick DiCarlo brought home Samuelson as the go-ahead run, giving the Mustangs a 5-4 lead.

Redshirt junior pitcher Dylan Villalobos closed out the game with three strikeouts in the ninth, earning his first win of the 2021 season.

Saturday

After pulling off the upset win on Friday, the Mustangs dropped a high-scoring second game against the Bruins 13-12 on Saturday.

The Mustangs jumped to an early lead in the bottom of the first inning starting with a pair of doubles to right center field from Emmerson and Lee. With two runners on base, DiCarlo singled down the left field line which brought home both Lee and Samuelson.

Freshman first baseman Joe Yorke then drove a two-RBI double to left field to bring home DiCarlo and sophomore second baseman Taison Corio to give the Mustangs a 5-0 lead at the end of the first inning. 

UCLA responded in the second inning after designated hitter Carson Yates had a RBI single, followed by a three-run home run to right field from catcher Noah Cardenas to pull within one run. 

After sophomore pitcher Travis Weston (1-1, 3.54 ERA) was pulled from the game in the top of the third inning, UCLA took the lead after freshman pitcher Bryce Warrecker gave up a three-run home run into right field to Bruins second baseman Mikey Perez.

Then, the Bruins’ center fielder Kevin Kendall singled up the middle to extend the Bruin’s lead to 9-5. 

The Bruins kept their momentum going after Cardenas drove his second home run of the game to give UCLA a 12-5 lead in the top of the sixth. 

The Mustangs tried to spark a comeback with their second five-run inning of the game in the bottom of the sixth. 

Emmerson and Lee drove a pair of RBI base hits to cut the deficit to four runs. Then, Samuelson’s single through the left infield brought the Mustangs within three runs, but the Mustangs were unable to capitalize with runners in scoring position for the rest of the game. 

The Mustangs almost rallied for the walkoff in the bottom of the ninth inning after Emmerson’s RBI single and an unearned run off of a wild pitch brought the score to 13-12 with two outs in the ninth. 

Lee’s ground out to second base secured the win for the Bruins and snapped the Mustangs’ four-game winning streak. 

Lee finished the game batting 3-6, with all three hits being doubles, and three RBIs while Emmerson, DiCarlo, and Yorke combined for eight hits and six RBIs. 

Sunday

The Mustangs bounced back after the tough Saturday night loss, winning the Sunday rubber match against the Bruins with a final score of 8-5. The win gave Cal Poly a 2-1 series win over No. 6 UCLA.

Cal Poly was carried by strong performances both on the mound and at the plate. The Mustang bats stayed hot early with Lee and Cabrera both contributing two RBIs. Both were able to hit a ball out of the park in the first two innings, keeping with their recent hot streaks and helping Cal Poly jump out to an early 4-2 lead.

The Mustangs early offensive attack was buoyed by an equally strong performance on the mound from redshirt junior pitcher Andrew Alvarez (3-0, 2.84 ERA). Alvarez only allowed three runs over the span of six innings while striking out three and only issuing two walks, and with the high-powered Mustang offense, that was more than enough for his third win on the year. 

Cal Poly extended their lead to 6-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning. A RBI single from Lopez brought home Lee, who had singled earlier in the inning. In the next at bat, Corio lined out to center field for a sacrifice fly that brought home Samuelson.

The Mustangs tacked on their eighth and final run on a triple from Emmerson in the bottom of the eighth inning, that brought home Cabrera.

The bullpen picked up where Alvarez left off, surrendering two runs over the final four innings to close out the game. Redshirt freshman pitcher Bryan Woo threw a hitless ninth inning to earn the save.

Bryan Woo (23) celebrates the win as Cal Poly Baseball takes on UCLA at Baggett Stadium on Sunday, March 14, 2021. (MANDATORY CREDIT: Kyle Calzia / Mustang News)

Following Sunday’s win, Lopez, Lee, and Emmerson are all batting at or over .400 on the season. Lee is second on the team in batting average (.440) while leading in home runs (4) and RBIs (18).

Cal Poly will open Big West Conference play next Saturday, March 20 at Cal State Northridge for the first of a four-game series.

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