A three-run home run by sophomore first baseman Tate Samuelson, capping off a four run ninth inning, was not enough for Cal Poly Baseball, as they lost 6-5 to Pepperdine in 11 innings May 7.
Earlier that day, the Mustangs (23-23) defeated the Waves 13-7 to finish their suspended March 12 game. But in the regularly scheduled game, Cal Poly faced offensive troubles for the first six innings. The Mustangs were held to just three hits during that time, with five players striking out in the first three innings.
One of those players was freshman designated hitter Conagher Sands, who was hitless in his first three at-bats. Sands, however, notched a single after Samuelson’s home run to extend his hitting streak to 20 games. This is the fourth longest hitting streak since the Mustangs became a Division I program.
Pepperdine opened up the game in the first inning with a deep double down left-center field from right fielder Matt Kanfer to put the Waves up 1-0.
Starting right hander Darren Nelson pitched one complete inning before coming out due to an illness, according to head coach Larry Lee. Nelson threw four straight balls to start the second inning.
Freshman right hander Bryan Woo entered the game and walked another Pepperdine batter before retiring the next three batters to end the inning and get the Mustangs out of a jam with two runners on base.
Sophomore left fielder Cole Cabrera made a diving catch to prevent a potential extra-base hit and end the top of the third inning for the Mustangs.
While Pepperdine put pressure on Cal Poly with two runners in scoring position in the fourth inning, the Mustangs’ defense made quick work of preventing the Waves from adding on to their one-run lead.
In the sixth inning, Woo gave up a single, a walk and hit a batter to load the bases before being pulled off the mound by Lee. A fielding error by redshirt freshman shortstop Connor Gurnik brought in another run for Pepperdine. Waves shortstop Quincy McAfee flew out to left field to allow left fielder Duncan McKinnon score and put Pepperdine up 3-0.
Junior center fielder Bradlee Beesley doubled into center fielder to bring home sophomore third baseman Nick DiCarlo in the seventh inning, putting Cal Poly on the board for the first time. Beesley then singled in the ninth to bring in DiCarlo again to kick-start the comeback effort.
In the eighth inning, senior right hander Jarred Zill pitched for the first time since April 5 against Cal State Fullerton due to lingering injuries, and showcased his new sidearm throws. Zill said he relied heavily on defense to get through the inning, which only lasted eight pitches.
“I don’t need to throw as hard, I don’t need to strike out as many guys,” Zill said. “Pitching like this, it’s really nice when my defense is ready to play. It made things a lot better knowing that they had my back.”
After Samuelson hit the game-tying home run in the ninth, Lee made the decision to have Samuelson pitch in the 11th inning. With runners on first and second, Samuelson walked a Waves batter to load the bases.
“Coach always says that you just got to extend the game, extend the inning, and that’s where my mindset was,” Samuelson said. “I was just trying to get it to the next hitter that was up.”
Despite Samuelson striking out the next batter, Pepperdine third baseman Aharon Modlin was hit by a pitch and the eventual game-winning run was scored.
The comeback train had run out of steam, as Beesley, sophomore right fielder Elijah Greene and Samuelson were the three batters that went up and back down to give Pepperdine the win.
Cal Poly resumes Big West action on the road Friday against third-place UC Irvine in a three game series, with first pitch set for 6 p.m., where Lee plans on utilizing senior right hander Michael Clark and sophomore right hander Taylor Dollard.
“We weren’t going to use our two best guys out of the [bullpen] in Clark and Dollard because we’re getting them ready for this weekend,” Lee said. “We don’t play very well on Tuesdays.”