Cal Poly scored five runs in the eighth inning to overcome a three-run deficit and win the series against San Francisco on Sunday afternoon at Baggett Stadium.
After falling behind to the dons (23-25) 4-1 in the top of the sixth inning, the No. 13 Mustangs (32-12) were desperate for some productivity on the offensive end of the diamond to force a close game. That’s exactly what they got in the bottom of the eighth.
Senior center fielder Ryan Lee reached first on after he was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. Junior right fielder Adam Melker hit a bloop single into shallow left-center that allowed Lee to advance to third base. The Mustangs were setup for a big inning with the go-ahead run at the plate and no one out.
With a runner in scoring position with no outs, starting right-hander Mason Radeke was confident that his teammates could come out of this inning with some runs on the board.
“There was no doubt in my mind that we were going to come back and get the win,” Radeke said. “It was just a matter of time.”
Junior second baseman Adam Buschini approached the plate. Putting the three previous unproductive plate appearances behind him, he connected with the first pitch sending it into the wall in left field for an RBI double.
After a pitching change, sophomore designated hitter D.J. Gentile hit his eleventh sacrifice fly of the season for the game-tying RBI. Gentile set a Cal Poly Division I record for sac-flies in a single season. He set a record earlier in the year when he hit three in a single game.
“I didn’t know about (the record), but that’s awesome,” Gentile said. “Although, I wish I could get a hit in some of those situations.”
Inching closer to the win, Mustangs’ junior left fielder Luke Yoder hit a ground ball to shortstop and finally reached second base on a throwing error that scored Buschini as the go-ahead run.
After a balk that sent Yoder to third, a missed suicide squeeze sign that worked out to score Yoder, and two consecutive doubles, Cal Poly took a demanding 7-4 lead heading into the ninth inning.
“We don’t swing it well early and this time we let it go a little longer than usual,” head coach Larry Lee said. “But, we did enough in that eighth inning to be the difference maker.”
It was a well-played game defensively by both teams as there was only one error committed during Sunday’s contest.
The Mustangs played especially tight, however, playing errorless ball, turning a savvy double play in the seventh and preventing a run from scoring on a pickle rundown in the eighth.
Junior right-hander Mark DeVincenzi (5-1) earned the win on the mound for the Mustangs, working 1 2/3 innings of relief for Radeke, who lasted 7 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on eight hits.
“It started with Radeke setting the tone on the mound,” Lee said of his pitcher. “He went deep into the game and threw a great one for us. You know, it was just a good team win.”