Cal Poly baseball needs a strong weekend against visitors Long Beach State. | Ian Billings/ Mustang News

Keenan Donath

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After comfortable victories against Pacific on Friday and Saturday, the Cal Poly baseball team couldn’t capture the series sweep on Sunday.

The Mustangs dropped the series finale against the Tigers 11-8.

Cal Poly (4-8) scored five runs in the first inning, but a persistent Pacific (1-13) team fought back to earn its first victory on the year.

The Mustangs put on their best offensive performance of the year over the weekend, scoring 31 runs in three games while a young group of pitchers was able to see some extended action on the mound.

In the first two games, the Mustangs’ bats were able to score early, and Sunday’s game was no different. An RBI double down the left field line by sophomore catcher Brett Barbier highlighted the first-inning fireworks. The Tigers would snatch a run off of Cal Poly sophomore starter Justin Calomeni in the bottom of the inning, but the Mustangs still emerged from the first inning with a four-run advantage.

“I felt fine, I just didn’t execute very well today,” Calomeni said.

Pacific made a dent in Cal Poly’s four-run lead when a Brett Sullivan triple scored two in the third inning. The Mustangs pulled Calomeni in the same inning, leaving the game after striking out three and giving up the three runs.

Cal Poly quickly countered with three runs of its own. A three-run blast off the bat of senior outfielder Zach Zehner extended the Mustangs’ lead to five after the first four and a half innings of play.

“It felt awesome. I am glad I had the opportunity to hit it,” Zehner said.

But in the bottom of the same inning, things suddenly took a turn for the worse for Cal Poly. The Tigers rallied. Two RBI doubles and a sacrifice fly later, the score was even at eight runs apiece. The momentum of the game had suddenly shifted in the home team’s direction.

Solo home runs from Pacific’s Jed Sprague and Sullivan distanced the Tigers from an opposing team that had produced piles of runs up to that point in the weekend. The Mustangs were never able to muster any more runs for the rest of the game. Shutout relief pitching from Pacific’s Mike Hager and Vince Arobio nearly no-hit Cal Poly in the game’s final four innings.

“They hit the ball really well,” head coach Larry Lee said. “We just did not have a lot of answers. We had the opportunity to sweep them … We didn’t.”

Freshman pitcher Michael Gomez (0-1) took the loss for the Mustangs, while relievers Taylor Chris and Danny Zandona also made appearances. Zehner’s homer is his second on the year, and he also collected four of the team’s RBIs. Junior shortstop Peter Van Gansen only got one hit but kept his batting average to an incredible .453 after the season’s first 12 games.

Cal Poly follows its up-and-down weekend when the Mustangs travel to San Jose State on Tuesday for a 6 p.m. game before returning home to host Sacramento State in a four-game series from Thursday to Sunday.

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