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It took 13 innings and more than four hours to decide the victor on Friday night at Baggett Stadium, but it took only one swing of the bat for junior right fielder Nick Torres and the No. 3 Cal Poly baseball team to win the series vs. Cal State Fullerton.
Torres struck a walk-off double to left field leading the Mustangs to a 4-3 win, their ninth straight victory, in the 100th game played between the two schools at the Division I level. Cal Poly (33-5, 10-1 Big West) has now won 23 of its last 25 games and all 10 series of three games or more this season.
“I just knew it felt good,” Torres said. “I forgot in the moment what the situation was. That shows how quiet my mind was. I wasn’t thinking at all. I had no recollection of what the situation was.”
That hit came after Torres had gone 1 for 6 up to that point in the ballgame, a testament to the outfielder’s clutch hitting, head coach Larry Lee said.
“He’s great,” Lee said. “He’s able to flush previous at-bats and just live in the present.”
Torres’ mentality is a reflection of his coach’s composed demeanor, Torres said.
“All the energy from us comes from him,” Torres said. “He knows we’re going to win the game, and we feel it too.”
The team’s confidence is what has produced one of the best records in the country, as well as a No. 3 national ranking. The team thinks — and knows — it is going to win every game, according to junior reliever Reed Reilly .
“(Lee) puts us in the best position to win games, and that’s all that matters,” Reilly said.
Reilly (2-0) entered the marathon game in the ninth inning and pitched 4 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts and no runs allowed to earn the win.
“He’s one of my all-time favorites,” Lee said. “He probably has more to do with us winning over the past three years than any other single player in our program. He’s very unique at what he does and he’s a great competitor.”
The Mustangs are firing on all cylinders as of late. The bats are hot, the starting rotation is keeping batters on their heels and the bullpen has been shutting down opposing offenses, Torres said.
“As soon as Reed came into the game I knew the game was ours,” he said. “We knew the game was over at that point. It was just a matter of time before we scored. That guy’s a stud at the end of the game.”
With each series win, the country is becoming more aware of the Mustangs’ presence in the national spotlight.
“For us to have the spotlight on us and that target on our backs is huge,” Torres said. “We all embrace it. As soon as I stepped on this field freshman year, that’s what we’ve been looking for. But we still feel like we don’t get the recognition we deserve.”
Cal Poly collected 17 hits to the Titans’ five and saw two players, sophomore second baseman Mark Mathias and sophomore shortstop Peter Van Gansen, get four hits in the the game. Van Gansen sent the contest into extra innings with an RBI single in the eighth inning to tie the score at eight.
Mathias notched the winning run when he scored from first base on Torres’ double in the 13th.
The Mustangs will look to sweep the Titans in a matinee Saturday at 1 p.m. in the final game of the three-game series. Sophomore right-hander Casey Bloomquist (8-0, 1.58 ERA) will take the mound against Grahamm Wiest (2-3, 1.72 ERA).
“As long as we keep winning we’ll stay where we’re at (and) continue to move up,” Lee said. “We’re trying to create the best opportunities for us not only in conference, but also in the postseason.”