Cal Poly Baseball went 1-3 in a weekend series against BYU Feb. 20-22 inside Baggett Stadium. After falling in their first two games, the Mustangs shutout the Cougars 10-0 in the first game of Saturday’s double-header. In the final game of the series, Cal Poly fell 5-4 in a 14-inning battle. The game lasted nearly five hours and was the longest game by innings in the history of Baggett Stadium.
Despite junior pitcher Taylor Dollard having 12 strikeouts through seven innings, the Mustangs fell 6-2 to BYU on Thursday, Feb. 20. The Mustangs took the lead in the fourth inning, but BYU tied the game at 2-2 in the 7th inning. An RBI and a three-run triple by BYU blew open the game, and the Mustangs were unable to come back.
“We had an off day, but that’s how baseball is always going to be,” junior outfielder Cole Cabrera said. “It’s not always going to click all the time.”
Dollard started off the first inning with three consecutive strikeouts for the Mustangs. In the first three innings, BYU pitcher Justin Sterner held the Mustangs to three singles and no runs, while Cal Poly left a total of four runners on base. In the fourth inning, junior outfielder Elijah Greene bunted for a single before senior catcher Myles Emmerson reached first base due to an error by the shortstop. The bases were loaded after sophomore infielder Taison Corio drew a walk. Cabrera was walked as well to get an RBI and put the Mustangs on the board.
Dollard had seven strikeouts against the Cougars by the fifth inning. After the bottom of the 6th inning, Cal Poly was still held to one run.
The Cougars got on the board in the 7th inning as Dollard gave up a single to Andrew Pintar, who was able to steal second and third base after two pass balls. After a walk, runners were at the corners with no outs. Mitch McIntyre responded and drove in two runs with a double over the center-fielder’s head. Dollard was kept in the game and struck out three batters in a row to stop BYU’s momentum.
“I just had a good tempo, I had a good feel for my stuff today,” Dollard said. “I thought the pitch calling was really good, and I thought we played pretty good defense behind me, so that helps obviously.”
“I just want to compete to the best of my ability when I go out, and that’s what I translate from practice to the games,” Dollard said.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Mustangs were able to respond with a run of their own after junior infielder Tate Samuelson singled to bring in senior outfielder Bradlee Beesley, who had reached third base on a throwing error.
Junior pitcher Dylan Villalobos came in for the Mustangs in the 8th inning. BYU loaded the bases and Bryan Woo was brought in to relieve Villalabos. The Cougars scored one run on a fielder’s choice, which left runners on first and third base with two outs. After McIntyre loaded the bases, Austin Deming hit a three-run triple to grant BYU a 6-2 lead. After failing to score any runs in the last two innings, Cal Poly fell to BYU at a final score of 6-2.
Cal Poly let a late 3-1 lead slip away in game two, losing 4-3 on Friday, Feb. 21. Despite outhitting the Cougars, the Mustangs couldn’t translate their hits to runs late in the ball game.
“We’ve got some holes in all aspects and we are very thin in a lot of areas,” head coach Larry Lee said. “We’ve got to find the right combination of players soon.”
BYU took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after a leadoff double was followed by a sacrifice fly off of junior starting pitcher Andrew Alvarez.
Before being relieved in the seventh inning, Alvarez allowed one run on two hits with eight strikeouts.
“[Alvarez] struggled early and was having trouble locating,” Lee said. “As his outing went on, he settled down and left with a two run lead. He pitched well enough to get the win, we just didn’t do it out of the bullpen.”
The game remained at 1-0 until the bottom of the fourth inning when Beesley led off with a double to left center, sparking a rally for the Mustangs.
“When I’m leading off, I’m just trying to get on base for my guys,” Beesley said. “We’re struggling offensively so every baserunner matters.”
Beesley crossed home plate thanks to a RBI double from Emmerson. After a seven-pitch at bat, junior third baseman Nick DiCarlo blasted a RBI triple to right field to bring home Emmerson and give Cal Poly their first lead of the game at 2-1.
The Mustang extended their lead in the bottom of the sixth inning after Beesley scored from third base on a wild pitch. Beesley reached third base due to a leadoff triple, his second extra-base hit of the game.
However, momentum shifted in the top of the seventh inning when sophomore pitcher Bryan Woo came into the game for Cal Poly. The Cougars scored two runs in the inning through wild pitches by Woo to tie the game at 3 apiece.
The Mustangs were shut out for the remainder of the game, while BYU brought in one final run in the top of the eighth inning courtesy of a RBI sacrifice fly from junior outfielder Danny Gelalich. The run proved to be the difference as the Cougars took the victory by the score of 4-3 to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
“I think we’re starting to pick it up and get readjusted,” Beesley said. “I think we’re going in the right direction, so we’re going to be alright.”
Saturday — Game 1
The first game of Saturday’s doubleheader was dominated by freshman pitcher Drew Thorpe as the Mustangs coasted to a 10-0 victory against BYU on Saturday, Feb. 22.
Thorpe, through eight innings of work, allowed zero runs and just four hits while striking out 13 batters.
“It’s just about making pitches and doing what I know I can do,” Thorpe said.
Cal Poly opened the scoring in the bottom of the fourth inning on a RBI single from Samuelson.
Both offenses were quiet for the next inning and a half, but the Mustang extended their lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the sixth as they scored three runs through four hits. The first run came on Samuelson’s second RBI single of the day before freshman shortstop Nick Marinconz followed up with a 2 RBI single of his own.
After Thorpe held the Cougars scoreless for another inning, Cal Poly tacked on one more run courtesy of a home run off the bat of Cabrera.
In the bottom of the eighth, Cal Poly took full control of the game with five runs on six hits in an inning where ten batters reached first base. Freshman outfielder Kyle Ashworth, DiCarlo and Corio all recorded RBIs in the eighth inning for the Mustangs.
Freshman righthander Kyle Scott came out of the bullpen for the second game in a row and shut the door in the ninth inning with a three straight strikeouts to secure the 10-0 win for Cal Poly.
The team recorded a season-high 10 runs and 16 hits to back up a commanding pitching performance from Thorpe.
Saturday — Game 2
After playing the longest game in the history of Baggett Stadium, Cal Poly lost a 14-inning heartbreaker to the BYU Cougars, 5-4.
The back-and-forth game lasted well over four hours and saw strong defensive plays from both sides. When asked about the game, Beesley said he was proud of his team’s effort.
“I thought we battled hard,” Beesley said. “I feel like the momentum was on our side, but sometimes you know baseball doesn’t go your way.”
The Cougars started off the top of the first inning with a run after Danny Gelalich was walked, advanced to third after a single and scored off a fielder’s choice. The Cougars quickly tacked on another run in the second inning with a home run by Brock Watkins. The Mustangs responded in the bottom of the second after DiCarlo got on base with an infield single and scored off a wild pitch.
BYU increased their lead to 3-1 in the fourth inning after Villalabos was relieved by freshman pitcher Derek True. True entered the game with the bases loaded and one out before holding the Cougars to one additional run.
In the seventh inning, Cal Poly scored three runs to take a 4-3 lead after Greene led off with a single and sophomore infielder Connor Gurnik put down a crucial bunt to load the bases. Two runs were scored after Cabrera hit a ball back to the pitcher that was unable to be fielded. A single to right field by Emmerson scored the third run. Despite scoring three runs, Cal Poly left two runners on base as the inning came to a close.
BYU tied the game up at 4-4 in the top of the ninth inning with a two-out RBI double by pinch hitter Cutter Clawson.
It took an additional four innings before another run crossed home plate. The Mustangs loaded the bases in the eleventh inning, but were unable to score the game-winning run.
BYU broke the deadlock in the fourteenth inning after Gelalich hit an RBI double with two outs. The bottom of the inning came to a quick end after two flyouts combined with a strikeout for a BYU victory.
“Today we played two quality games head coach Larry Lee said. “Offensively, we swung the bat much better and pitched well. We should have been able to put this game away.”
The Mustangs will be on the road for their next game against the Fresno State Bulldogs Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 6:05 p.m.