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After a 6-2 win on Thursday, highlighted by a two-run homer by senior outfielder Zack Zehner, Cal Poly fell 2-0 to Sacramento State in the second game of this weekend’s four-game series. The Mustangs could not rally their bats behind one of junior Casey Bloomquist’s best starts of the season.
Cal Poly’s starting pitcher allowed only two runs in his strong 7 2/3 innings and struck out nine batters.
“I felt like things were clicking on all cylinders, mentally and physically,” Bloomquist said. “I really felt like I was back to my normal self. I think it was my best game of the year so far; that was what I really needed to get back to.”
Bloomquist has not begun the season in an ideal fashion. His numbers in every category are down from last year.
“I just wasn’t attacking hitters the way I normally do,” Bloomquist said of his early-season woes. “I really felt out of whack, but I think it was just a small mechanical change that made the difference.”
Despite Bloomquist’s performance, the Mustangs were unable to string together hits against a dominating performance from Sacramento State’s starting pitcher, Brennan Leitao. Leitao went 8 complete innings, giving up only three hits and striking out seven.
“He hit all of his spots, especially the first-pitch strike with his fastball,” junior designated hitter Mark Mathias said. “He was attacking us with a lot of off-speed pitches, especially his slider.”
The Mustangs only recorded three hits on the night, but the more consistent issue that carried into this game was their defensive struggles. Mathias, in particular, who is still recovering from a throwing arm injury, has been unable to contribute on the defensive end while playing the role of designated hitter.
“It’s tough being a DH and not being able to put in my work in the infield and make good plays,” Mathias said.
Mathias has just begun his throwing program and plans on being back in the field before Big West Conference play begins.
“I should be playing in the field in a couple weeks,” Mathias said. “I get cleared on the 24th, but I’m going to take my time with it and make sure I feel 100 percent.”
Like Mathias, head coach Larry Lee felt the poor defensive effort currently deserves the most attention.
“We just don’t play very good defense,” Lee said. “And we didn’t do enough off offense tonight to get anything going. Bloomquist really put us in a position to win tonight.”
“Sometimes you just have to go in and do your job, and it still doesn’t work out,” Bloomquist said.
The Mustangs are now tied 1-1 in the four-game series and look to improve their overall play moving forward as they prepare to face more difficult opponents.
“I feel like today was kind of a heartbreak,” Bloomquist said. “But we just need to come out the rest of the weekend and try to win the series so we can get ready for USC next weekend.”
“It’s not like it gets easier,” Lee said. “You face three Top 20 teams in a row, two of them on the road, and it actually gets more difficult for us. We just need to keep on working hard and try to add another player into the mix, and the more we can get contributions from other people, the better off we are going to be.”
Cal Poly will continue the series against Sacramento tonight at Baggett Stadium. First pitch is at 6 p.m.