In hindsight, it might have been a profitable day for the Mustangs had Mother Nature stepped in and postponed Saturday’s 4-1 loss to UC Irvine in a Big West baseball contest.
Rain delayed the start of the game by 29 minutes, but the skies let up and allowed the Anteaters to win their first Big West series this year as Cal Poly’s bats again struggled to produce runs.
The Mustangs (21-17, 5-4) entered the weekend averaging more than six runs per game, but only managed six for the entire series against UC Irvine (21-16, 3-6). Cal Poly coach Larry Lee isn’t worried about the sudden slump.
“We had a lot of hits over the weekend, but not timely hits,” Lee said.
Cal Poly won Thursday night’s game 2-1 with Bud Norris pitching seven innings and picking up the win for the Mustangs. Casey Fien, Cal Poly’s starting pitcher on Saturday, threw two innings of shutout baseball for his second save in 2006.
On Friday, Gary Daley Jr. allowed four runs on 11 hits and three walks for Cal Poly as the Mustangs fell 4-3 to the Anteaters. Cal Poly left 13 runners on base in the game.
Cal Poly’s Jimmy Gardiner and Josh Lansford each had two hits on Saturday, accounting for half of the team’s hits, but neither was able to score. In all, Cal Poly left eight runners on base on Saturday and 26 for the series.
Fien (3-1) picked up his first loss of the season. The right hander pitched eight innings and allowed four runs on nine hits and no walks with five strikeouts. Rocky Roquet, typically the Mustangs’ closer, got into trouble in the ninth inning, allowing two hits, but didn’t allow a run.
Fien has turned into the Mustangs’ new Sunday starter. Despite the promotion, he will still have reliever duties in the first game of each series.
“The plan is, they’re going to use me to win games on Friday and if we win on Friday they won’t use me on Saturday so I can start on Sunday,” Fien said.
Scott Gorgen (5-2) earned the win for the Anteaters, pitching seven innings before handing the ball off to reliever Gary Nakashima. Gorgen surrendered one run on seven hits and walked two while striking out eight in his seven innings of work.
Nakashima pitched two scoreless innings to close the game out for his second save of the season.
The Anteaters got off to a hot start with three consecutive doubles by Taylor Holiday, Jaime Martinez and Matt Morris in the top half of the first inning to give the Anteaters a 2-0 lead.
The scoring continued for UC Irvine in the second inning as Gary Dudrey blasted a two-run home run over the left-centerfield fence, his first career four-bagger, to give his team a 4-0 lead.
The Mustangs got on the scoreboard in the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly by Jimmy Gardiner with the bases loaded. That would be all they got, however, and the Anteaters were content to end the inning with a 4-1 lead.
Fien settled down to pitch through the eighth inning without yielding another run for the Mustangs. After the game, Fien said he threw more off-speed pitches following the tumultuous first two innings.
The Anteaters threatened to increase their lead with runners on first and third base and one out against Roquet in the ninth inning. The Anteaters’ attempted a squeeze play with Dudrey at the plate. The ball caromed hard off Dudrey’s bat and Van Ostrand fielded the ball while charging from first base to throw Chad Lundahl out at home plate. Roquet struck out the next Anteater to the plate to end the threat.
Canepa led off with a base hit for the Mustangs in the ninth, Cal Poly still trailing 4-1, but Nakashima got the next three Mustangs out to end the game.
Grant Desme and Brent Walker each sat out Saturday’s game for Cal Poly with injuries. Both are day-to-day with their return date unknown, Lee said. Desme is one of Cal Poly’s leading hitters with a .291 average and eight homer runs to go along with his 28 RBIs and 27 runs scored.
The Mustangs will play three Big West games at UC Riverside with the series scheduled to open on Friday at 7 p.m. The Anteaters will play at home against USC on Tuesday and then host UC Santa Barbara for an intra-conference series starting Friday.