Freshman Kyle Smith put in another solid start on Saturday, picking up the win. | Joseph Pack/Mustang News

Harry Chang
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Sophomore catcher Brett Barbier had two hits and three RBIs and junior designated hitter Brian Mundell had two hits and one RBI as the Mustangs rallied to a 7-6 series-sealing win despite again being outhit by the Highalnders Saturday afternoon at Baggett Stadium.

Barbier, who came up with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the eighth, doubled to left center to clear the bases and give the Mustangs a 7-4 lead.

“[Head coach Larry Lee] was telling me ‘sit fastball’ and I took a fastball first pitch,” Barbier said after the game. “And then he just hung a slider and I was looking for something in the zone to put in the outfield and just put a good swing on it and things just kind of worked out for me.”

Senior leftfielder Zack Zehner added one hit to a Mustangs offensive attack that never trailed in Saturday’s game two against their Big West Conference opponent behind a strong start from freshman lefthander Kyle Smith.

“There’s a lot of pressure when you’re in the hunt, I think,” Zehner said, “But baseball’s a sport where you have a lot going against you, so the easier you make it on yourself the better you do and I think knowing that our chance of playing in the playoffs are pretty slim, guys let that weight off their shoulders and step up.”

 The offensive performance this afternoon against Highlanders’ pitching came behind a 7-inning, seven-hit and three-run performance by Smith as the freshman struck out five and walked just one.

Smith’s Saturday outing, which followed a 8 1/3 inning win by ace Casey Bloomquist, setup senior Taylor Chris’ strong outing that kept the Highlanders at bay and ultimately closed out the four-run win.

“T.C. wasn’t going to give in and you could see it in his eyes that he was ready to compete,” Zehner said. “I had full confidence — we’ve been down before and we’ve kind of let guys come back in the ninth inning, but especially today I had no waver in our ability to close this one out which is a good feeling.”

The Mustangs were outhit both Friday — when the Highlanders scattered 9 hits off of Bloomquist — and Saturday, as the Highlanders notched 12 hits to the Mustangs’ nine.

“They gave us too many opportunities early in the game,” head coach Larry Lee said. “But we couldn’t expand the lead and we let them stay around. So it was lucky. We’ve been outhit both games and we just need to do a better job.”

The Mustangs again, however, prevailed Saturday afternoon behind timely hitting when opposing pitching was reeling.

“Every guy comes in and gives a good scouting report when they’re done with their at-bat,” Barbier said. “They really just come in and tell us what they say and everyone’s been dialed in lately at the plate and in the dugout and able see how righty’s or lefty’s are being pitched, so they already know what they’re getting into.”

The win Saturday puts the Mustangs at 25-25 overall and 12-8 in the Big West heading into Sunday’s series finale, which will be followed next weekend’s three-game season finale at UC Davis.

“You want to be over .500,” Zehner said, “You want to be a winning team at the end of the season. Was it a goal [at the beginning of the season]? No. But it’s something to look at and say we accomplished something.”

Zehner, who last year forgoed accepting and Major League offer to return to the Central Coast program spoke Saturday about his decision to not only stay for professional reasons, but to enjoy all this team and this area has to offer.

“I’ve been playing the way I think I should it’s my role in the middle of the order to go out and hit the way I’m hitting so I don’t expect anything else,” Zehner said. “We bust our butts off every day we don’t worry about the results, but rather the process of working hard and what happens on the field happens. 

“Mixed emotions,” Zehner also said of his final home seires at Poly. “I love this place. I’ve loved playing here these past two years and it’s going to be a bummer leaving.” 

The Mustangs, who finished the afternoon with a two-run, three-hit and one error top of the ninth that extended the Highlarders’ hopes, came out with a win thanks in large part to a savvy performance by Chris.

Cal Poly with go for the sweep tomorrow as they try to finish the season strong during a Senior Day 1 p.m. start. The Ptiching matchup is still to be determined.

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