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In the first series of Big West Conference play, the Cal Poly baseball team lost two out of three games against Cal State Northridge (CSUN).

Game One

In the first game of Big West Conference play for both schools, CSUN scored four runs in the sixth inning and went on to beat Cal Poly 5-3 Thursday afternoon.

In the first inning, Cal Poly loaded the bases with nobody out but settled for one run on a force play at third base. The Mustangs also left two runners on base in the second inning, one runner at second in the third inning, and loaded the bases with one out in the fourth but did not score any runs.

Junior righthander Jarred Zill tossed five scoreless innings with seven strikeouts before giving the ball to junior righthander Michael Clark, who suffered the loss. In the sixth, CSUN scored on RBI singles by infielders Brandon Bohning and Alvaro Rubalcaba, a bases-loaded walk and a sacrifice fly.

Cal Poly scored single runs in the seventh and eighth innings with RBI doubles by sophomore infielders Bradlee Beesley and Dylan Doherty, respectively, but CSUN closer Cassius Hamm retired the Mustangs in order in the ninth for the save.

CSUN reliever Jayson Newman earned the victory, pitching 2 2/3 scoreless innings with four strikeouts.

Game Two

Cal Poly lost their second conference game in a 10-7 shootout against CSUN after giving up a 5-2 lead.

The Matadors took the first lead in the second inning before the Mustangs exploded for five runs in the third, taking advantage of a bases-loaded situation with no outs. After junior center fielder Alex McKenna drove in a run on a fielder’s choice, Cal Poly strung together three straight hits, before junior catcher Nick Meyer grounded into a double-play to end the rally.

The Matadors responded in the next inning in the form of a Kevin Riley home run, closing Cal Poly’s lead to one run before taking the lead again in the fourth inning.

The Mustangs kept the game going back-and-forth, retaking the lead with a two-run fifth inning. Junior shortstop Kyle Marinconz started the scoring with a lead-off home run to tie the game at six runs each. Sophomore right fielder Bradlee Beesley, the next batter, got on base with a single and scored on a fielder’s choice three batters later.

However, Cal Poly’s pitching could not hold off the Matadors. Sophomore starting pitcher Thomas Triantos was pulled after just one inning pitched for freshman Matt Arens, who pitched only two innings himself giving up four runs, including the Kevin Riley home run. Junior pitcher Cam Schneider came in to relieve Arens after the freshman let the first two Matador batter on-base in the fourth. The two runs scored and were attributed to Arens.

Schneider kept Northridge quiet while the Mustangs regained the lead. In the seventh inning, Schneider was pulled with two outs and only one on-base for junior Michael Clark. The ensuing Matador batter, Kevin Riley, knocked his second home-run of the game to score two runs and take the lead for good.

The Matadors knocked in a few more insurance runs and won the game 10-7.

Game Three

Cal Poly salvaged one win in the finale of their three-game series by beating CSUN 5-4.

Facing a one-run deficit in the eighth inning, the Mustangs scored two runs in the inning to earn their final margin. Meyer reached base with a walk to start the inning. A single from senior left fielder Josh George advanced Meyer to second. Freshman first baseman Tate Samuelson moved both runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt with no outs. A sacrifice fly and a double from ensuing batters drove both baserunners in and gave Cal Poly the lead.

The start of the game indicated another high-scoring affair when Matadors’ left fielder Albee Weiss smacked a two-out solo home run in the first inning to take the first lead. Cal Poly responded with a big third inning, scoring three runs on only two hits. The Mustangs loaded the bases with no outs, drawing a walk to score the first run of the inning. The next two runs both scored on a fielder’s choice. The Mustangs had a 3-1 lead heading into the bottom of the third.

The Matadors then strung together three hits to cut the lead to one run. Quality defense from the Mustangs kept the scoring small. Freshman third baseman Nick DiCarlo fielded a ground ball and threw out a baserunner at home with one out to minimize damage.

However, it was still a challenge to stifle the Matadors’ offense. In the ensuing inning, freshman righthander Darren Nelson gave up a two-run home run to CSUN’s Riley Conlan, giving up the lead.

Despite ending with a no-decision and giving up four runs, Nelson was able to quiet down the Matadors’ offense just enough for Cal Poly to earn the win. Nelson was pulled with two outs in the seventh inning for freshman lefthander Andrew Alvarez, who earned the win. Nelson, who pitched 6 2/3 innings, had the longest outing of any pitcher in the series.

Cal Poly is now 1-2 in Big West play and will host CSU Bakersfield at home Tuesday.

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