Sophomore Pat Pezet hit his first collegiate home run and senior right-hander Casey Fien pitched seven strong innings to lead Cal Poly to a 7-1 victory over UC Riverside in a Big West Conference baseball game Sunday afternoon at the Riverside Sports Complex.
Pezet’s two-run shot to right field, only his second hit of the season, capped a three-run Mustang rally in the fifth inning and Cal Poly broke the game open with a four-run eighth-inning uprising.
With the victory, Cal Poly clinched the series, two games to one, and has accomplished that feat against the Highlanders in five straight years. The Mustangs are 23-18 for the season and 7-5 in the Big West while UC Riverside fell to 20-15 and 3-3.
Fien (4-1) earned his fourth win by allowing just one run and six hits, striking out three and walking one. He threw just 86 pitches. Freshman D.J. Mauldin tossed two scoreless frames in relief, striking out two.
Cal Poly hit into three double plays in the first four innings, but finally broke through in the fifth with three runs. Bryan Kepner led off with a single to left, Brent Morel doubled to left-center field, scoring Kepner, and Pezet’s homer to right made it 3-0.
UC Riverside scored its lone run of the game in the sixth off Fien as catcher Jeff Dunbar hit a sacrifice fly to center field.
Cal Poly got that run back and three more in the eighth to break the game open. Jimmy Van Ostrand’s bloop single to right scored the first run, a sacrifice fly to deep center field by Grant Desme tallied the second run, Matt Cooper tripled to right-center field for the third tally and Morel singled up the middle to give the Mustangs a 7-1 cushion.
UC Riverside left runners in scoring position in four of the first six innings.
Morel, Kepner and Josh Lansford each collected two hits for Cal Poly and Pezet added his home run to the cause. The Mustangs outhit UC Riverside 10-6.
Center fielder Brett Bigler singled three times for the Highlanders and went 8-for-10 in the series. He reached base safely 12 times in 14 plate appearances.
Taylor Bills (4-2) took the loss, giving up three runs, all earned, and six hits in five-plus innings, walking three, striking out two and hitting two Mustang batters.
Cal Poly takes a break from Big West play next weekend, traveling to Corvallis, Oregon, for two games against No. 9-ranked Oregon State and one game against New Mexico. The series begins Thursday at 5 p.m. with the Mustangs facing the Beavers, followed by a doubleheader Saturday – the first game against New Mexico at noon and the second game against Oregon State at 4 p.m.