Cal Poly Baseball slugged its way to a series win over Missouri State to open the season from Friday, Feb. 17 through Sunday, Feb. 19 at Baggett Stadium.
The Mustangs (2-1) took the series opener and finale while the Bears (1-2) won the Saturday matchup.
Cal Poly opened up the 2023 season on Friday with a 15-5 win in a game full of firsts.
Junior right-hander Bryce Warrecker struggled in the first inning of his first Friday start while the Bears offense didn’t waste any time after a base hit on the first pitch of the game followed up by a two-run home run gave them an early 2-0 lead.
The bottom of the first saw the first pitch-clock violation of the season against the Bears, but the Mustangs couldn’t get a run across.
Warrecker settled down and had a pair of scoreless innings in the second and third while compiling three strikeouts.
Junior first baseman Joe Yorke put the Mustangs on the board in the third inning with an RBI single that brought in junior center fielder Jake Steels to make the score 2-1.
Warrecker ran into trouble in the fourth with runners on first and third and one out but escaped the jam after two consecutive strikeouts to end the inning.
After a scoreless bottom half, Cal Poly’s defense showed its inexperience in the fifth with a couple of errors. However, Warrecker picked up his teammates by retiring the next two batters.
The Mustang offense then exploded in the fifth as they took a 3-2 lead on a two-run double from junior shortstop Aaron Casillas for his first hit in the Green and Gold.
This was then followed up by a no-doubt two-run blast from freshman designated hitter Evan Cloyd for his first collegiate home run, which brought the Cal Poly lead to 5-2.
The Mustangs weren’t done, however, with a pair of two-RBI singles from sophomore catcher Ryan Stafford and freshman third baseman Tate Shimao, for his first collegiate hit, further extending the Mustang lead to 9-2.
The rally was capped off with an RBI hit by pitch with the bases loaded by Cloyd to bring the inning’s run total to nine and the score to 10-2 after five.
Warrecker was relieved in the sixth by junior righty Derek True and he struck out the side, while Cal Poly tacked on four more runs with the score at 14-2 in favor of the Green and Gold.
The Mustangs allowed a run in the seventh but got that run right back in the bottom half of the inning with another Yorke RBI single.
Although Missouri State tacked on a few more runs in the ninth, it was too little too late as lefty sophomore Noah Larkin closed out the 15-5 win for the Mustangs.
Warrecker (1-0) impressed in his 2023 debut as he ended his night with eight strikeouts over five innings while only allowing two runs.
Offensively, senior left fielder Collin Villegas drew five walks to tie a school record, while Yorke went 3-for-6 with four RBIs and Steels went 3-for-4 with a walk and two stolen bases.
Following the Opening Day victory, the Mustangs looked to secure a series win on Saturday. Missouri State had other plans, routing Cal Poly 15-4 to tie the series at a game apiece.
After allowing a leadoff single, graduate starting pitcher Travis Weston struck out two Bear hitters to strand the lone baserunner in the first.
Following a groundout from Stafford in the bottom half, Steels singled, and two batters later, Villegas sent a rocket over the left field fence for his first home run of the season to give Cal Poly an early 2-0 lead.
The Bears answered with two runs in the second, while Cal Poly went down 1-2-3 in the home half.
Weston found his groove, striking out the side in the third and two more in the fourth to keep the game tied at 2-2.
In the top of the fifth, Missouri State’s offense erupted. Three consecutive hits opened the inning, leading to a run. After a strikeout, a two-run double fluffed the Bear lead to 5-2, chasing Weston from the game.
Sophomore reliever Steven Brooks would come in but was quickly ambushed by the Bear hitters. A wild pitch, single and two doubles resulted in four more runs for Missouri State, whose lead steadily climbed to 9-2.
Cal Poly’s offense stayed ice cold in the fifth and sixth innings, striking out five times over the two offensive opportunities.
Missouri State kept its foot on the gas, adding two runs in the seventh thanks to a leadoff home run and three more hits. In the eighth, three more hits led to four runs to push the lead to 15-2, all but ending any hope of a Mustang comeback.
Cal Poly scratched across two meaningless runs in the ninth, ultimately dropping the Saturday swing game, 15-4.
Weston (0-1) took the loss after going just 4 ⅔ innings, allowing six runs on six hits with nine strikeouts.
Cal Poly hitters combined for 12 strikeouts on the evening.
The rubber match stayed true to the offensive theme of the series, with the Mustangs coming out on top with a 12-5 win over the Bears.
Despite the final score, it was Missouri State that held the first lead of the game. After two scoreless innings to open play, an RBI sacrifice fly and a three-run homer propelled the Bears to a 4-0 lead in the third.
The next two half innings went without a run, but the Cal Poly offense woke up for four runs of its own in the bottom of the fourth courtesy of RBI extra-base hits from Casillas and Cloyd.
Missouri State then answered with a solo homer to recapture the lead in the top of the fifth, but it was Yorke that flexed his muscles with a two-run homer in the bottom half to give the Mustangs a 6-5 lead.
Cal Poly kept that lead for the remainder of the game, as the relief tandem of True and junior righthander Kyle Scott held the Bears scoreless from then on out.
A six-run inning in the bottom of the eighth highlighted by RBIs from Villegas, Steels, Cloyd and senior infielder Taison Corio cushioned the lead and secured the 12-5 win for the Mustangs.
When the final out was recorded, Cal Poly had amassed 18 hits en route to the first series win of the year.
Redshirt junior righthander Ryan Baum (1-0) picked up the win in his first start with the Mustangs, allowing five runs in five innings while striking out seven.
Cal Poly will now hit the road and take on San Jose State on Monday, Feb. 20 at 1:35 p.m. at Excite Ballpark.