One bad inning was all it took for the Cal Poly baseball team to fall 5-4 to California on Tuesday night in Berkeley.
The Mustangs, recently ranked No. 29 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll, looked for a strong showing in their rematch against No. 24 Cal, after losing to the Golden Bears 7-1 at home on April 12.
Cal Poly took an early lead in Tuesday’s nonconference game, but poor play in a single inning cost the Mustangs the game, and lead to a repeat of the Golden Bears’ six-run fourth inning during the previous matchup.
Freshman shortstop and leadoff hitter Kyle Marinconz got the game started by coming home on junior center fielder Brett Barbier’s sacrifice fly in the top of the first inning. Marinconz scored again in the third inning on another sac fly, this time by right fielder John Schuknecht, to increase Cal Poly’s lead 2-0.
Cal put up a run in the bottom of the fourth inning to cut the lead 2-1, but Barbier scored on a sac fly by junior third baseman Michael Sanderson in the Mustangs’ next chance at bat. Meanwhile, freshman pitcher Bobby Ay was dicing up Golden Bears’ bats in his first collegiate start, allowing only one earned run and three hits in five innings pitched.
However, a pitching change in the sixth inning quickly shifted the game to Cal’s favor. Freshman pitcher Thomas Triantos gave up a two-run home run to Cal junior second baseman Robbie Tenerowicz, tying the game at 3-3, then gave up back-to-back doubles to surrender the lead.
Cal tacked on another run in the bottom of the seventh inning when senior designated hitter Devin Pearson was hit by a pitch, got bunted over to second and came around on a single up the middle.
The Golden Bears held onto the 5-3 lead until the top of the ninth inning, when Cal Poly freshman first baseman Cooper Moore scored on a fielder’s choice to draw the game to its final score.
Cal Poly left seven men on base throughout the game, while Cal left three. The Golden Bears relied on a carousel of seven pitchers, none of whom threw more than 2.1 innings.
The loss ended the Mustangs’ six-game winning streak and dropped their record to 25-14 overall. However, they still remain at the top of Big West Conference standings at 7-2. Cal Poly will look to bounce back this weekend in a three-game series at Long Beach State (22-16, 6-6 Big West).