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The Cal Poly baseball team knows this weekend’s series against UC Irvine is perhaps the most important stretch of baseball they will have played this year. With inconsistent play hampering their chances for an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament, the Mustangs are hoping to earn a trip to the big dance by putting up the best conference record in the Big West Conference.
With that in mind, Cal Poly took one step closer to the top of the Big West standings Friday night, defeating the Anteaters 9-6.
Junior starting pitcher Casey Bloomquist has pitched to the ninth inning in his last three starts, a big reason why he and the Mustangs are undefeated in that stretch.
On Friday, Bloomquist went 8 1/3 innings, allowing two earned runs and collecting five strikeouts. Although he allowed ten hits and three additional unearned runs, Bloomquist was able to advance his record to 6-2.
Junior designated hitter Brian Mundell singled in the first inning to bring in two early Cal Poly runs, but by the top of the fifth inning the Anteaters had gained a 3-2 lead. Mundell then unloaded a triple to left field, plating junior short stop Peter Van Gansen to tie the game. Within the same inning, RBI doubles from sophomore catcher Brett Barbier and senior outfielder Jordan Ellis helped to establish a firm 6-3 Mustang lead.
In the seventh inning, it was the unsuspecting onslaught of Barbier and Ellis that wreaked havoc on the UC Irvine pitching staff yet again. Barbier hit another RBI double to right-center field while Ellis hit a triple to left-center to score Barbier.
Barbier now has 40 hits in as many games this season to go along with three home runs, four triples, and seven doubles.
Cal Poly (23-23, 10-6 Big West Conference) has reached a .500 winning percentage for the first time this season. With the win, Cal Poly puts itself a game behind UC Irvine (29-17, 11-5) and UC Santa Barbara and two games back of first place Cal State Fullerton. Game 2 of the series is set to go at 7:05 pm on Saturday and will be televised on Fox Sports Prime Ticket.