Cal Poly shut out UC Riverside to win the final game of a three-game series with UC Riverside 4-0.
Pitcher Robyn Kontra pitched seven innings allowing five hits and walking three with six strikeouts for the victory. The Highlanders’ star third baseman, Melissa Sanchez, was held 0-for-1 on the day with two walks. The Mustangs were sure to pitch around the power-hitting Sanchez after she hit a towering shot nearly into the parking lot on Saturday.
“That was our plan defensively to not let her beat us,” coach Jenny Condon said. “We tried to get her to either chase pitches or we’ll walk her.”
Sanchez came into the weekend series leading the Big West with a .486 batting average and eight home runs. Kontra knew the scouting strategy and although Sanchez kept the bat on her shoulders for much of the game, Kontra managed to strike the slugger out late in the game.
“Somebody like that doesn’t see good pitches very often,” Kontra said. “She’s going to want to hit anything.”
Cal Poly (15-17, 2-1) threatened in the first inning. Designated hitter Sarah Iwata and right fielder Chelsea Green each singled, sending Iwata to third base. First baseman Melissa Pura came to bat with a chance to give the Mustangs an early lead, but lined out to Sanchez at third.
The Highlanders’ best chance to score came in the top of the third inning. A two-out rally had the bases loaded for Riverside’s catcher Cassie Greenwalt. Kontra got some defensive help as Pura stopped a hard grounder down the first baseline and stepped on the base for the third out.
Cal Poly broke the scoring stalemate in the bottom half of the third inning.
Leftfielder Kelly Comstock led off with a triple past Riverside’s Jamie Yee, the ball rolling to the centerfield fence. Mustangs’ centerfielder Lisa Modglin followed with a deep fly ball that hit the top of the leftfield fence scoring Comstock and allowing Modglin to coast into second with a double.
Second baseman Stephanie Tam laid down a sacrifice bunt to send Modglin to third. Iwata looped a single over the shortstop to score Modglin and increase the Mustang lead to 2-0.
Cal Poly extended its lead to 4-0 in the fourth inning Jackie Gehrke-Jones and Comstock each crossed the plate.
The Mustangs took 2-of-3 from the Highlanders (20-9, 1-2) in the opening weekend of Big West play.
Next up for the Mustangs is a three-game series at two-time defending Big West champion Long Beach State.