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After coming from behind to win its last four games, Friday was the Cal Poly baseball team’s turn to be on the receiving end of a miraculous comeback.
No. 9 UC Santa Barbara rode a five-run eighth inning rally to defeat Cal Poly 8-7.
The Gauchos (27-8, 5-2 Big West Conference) opened the scoring with two runs in the first inning, but the Mustangs quickly answered with six runs of their own in the second. Junior right fielder John Schuknecht’s home run scored the first two for Cal Poly, followed by a single by junior second baseman Mark Mathias, which gave them the early lead.
Still in the second inning, junior shortstop Peter Van Gansen came to the plate with two runners on and belted his first career home run, plating three more runs and extending the lead to 6-2.
After giving up the two runs in the first, Cal Poly starting pitcher Casey Bloomquist only gave up one more run in his remaining 4 2/3 innings of work. He handed the ball to reliever Taylor Chris who pitched through the seventh inning without allowing a Gaucho run.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, senior reliever Danny Zandona took the mound for the Mustangs. After striking out the first batter he faced, Zandona went on to give up five earned runs after a disastrous 1/3 inning plagued by three walks, five hits, an error and a balk, leaving UC Santa Barbara with an 8-6 lead heading into the ninth inning.
Cal Poly mustered another run in the top of the ninth, but it was not enough. While this win ends the Mustangs’ five-game winning streak, it does prove they can compete with some of the best the Big West has to offer this year.
The Mustangs (15-19, 4-3) will look to rebound in game two of the series, which begins at 2 p.m. on Saturday.