Brian De Los Santos
The offensive struggles looked to be behind them.
But after scoring six runs in their series opener against Notre Dame, the Mustangs put up nine zeroes through nine innings and fell 1-0 to the Fighting Irish on Friday in Baggett Stadium.
“Their pitcher was pretty good,” designated hitter Brian Mundell said. “With baseball, hitting is always just going to be up and down, so it’s kind of how guys feel at a certain moment. For the majority of the time, we need to make sure we’re hitting better than worse.”
The Mustangs had been hitting better as of late. After early season offensive struggles, the Mustangs came into Friday’s game scoring no fewer than four runs in their past nine games.
Mundell has played a big part of that success. He boasted a .298 average with five home runs in 13 games coming into Friday, while also sporting a cool .617 slugging percentage.
And he’s a freshman.
“I’m having a good approach and seeing the ball well,” Mundell said. “Hopefully, I can keep that going.”
Mundell went 2 for 4 with a double against the Irish, but was one of just a few Mustangs batters who found success. Even with center fielder David Armendariz going 2 for 4 as well, Cal Poly failed to score runs when it had its chances.
“It was a well-pitched game,” Cal Poly head coach Larry Lee said. “It hits both sides, just one key hit or one mistake was going to win the ball game.”
That’s what happened in the ninth inning. With relief pitcher Reed Reilly on the mound, Notre Dame’s Lane Richards doubled the first pitch he saw down the left-field line. Kyle Richardson then moved him over with a sacrifice bunt and Frank DeSico brought him home on a single to shortstop to make it 1-0.
“We just got beat,” Lee said. “It was a good game.”
And despite the one run in the ninth, it was a good game for the Mustangs on the mound as well. Left hander Matt Imhof pitched 7 2/3 innings for Cal Poly, walking away with 11 strikeouts and six hits with no runs.
That type of performance has become normal for the sophomore this season. He came into Friday’s game with a 2-0 record, a 1.40 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings pitched.
“I felt good out there,” Imhof said. “It’s never fun losing games, but I felt like we competed. Their guy threw really well, our guys played well and some of those games you are just going to lose. It’s tough.”
Notre Dame’s Adam Norton got the win, throwing eight innings with seven hits and five strikeouts. Dan Slania got the save for the Irish, posting two strikeouts — both looking — in the final inning.
With the win, Notre Dame evens the series at 1-1. But the Mustangs will have an opportunity to still take the series from the nationally ranked opponent in game three tomorrow at Noon.
“We come out here and expect to win,” Imhof said. “We feel we are just as good as them, if not better.”