tom sanders

Cal Poly rebounded from an opening game loss to win the final two games of the series against Cal State Northridge at Matador Field in Big West baseball over the weekend.

Two weeks prior, the Matadors (16-19, 1-5) swept Cal Poly (20-15, 4-2) in non-conference action. The Mustangs avenged the losses with a pair of important Big West wins.

In the first game, Cal State Northridge snapped a 2-2 tie with three runs in the sixth inning, two of them unearned, and went on to beat Cal Poly 5-3.

Cal Poly scored once in the seventh as Brent Morel led off with a double, took third on a bunt single by Matt Cooper and came home on Brent Walker’s single to right-center field. However, it wasn’t enough to knock off the Matadors on Friday.

The Mustangs put their first two batters on base in the eighth as Josh Lansford singled up the middle and Bryan Kepner walked. But Matt Canepa’s bunt in the air was caught by Matador pitcher Craig Baker, who threw to first base for a double play.

Cooper reached third in the ninth but was left stranded there.

Baker (5-5), who pitched a complete-game shutout with 10 strikeouts against Cal Poly two weeks ago at Baggett Stadium, struck out eight in eight innings Friday.

In game two, Cal Poly rallied for five runs in the ninth inning to beat the Matadors 7-6.

Mustang junior right-hander Gary Daley Jr. pitched 5.1 perfect innings, striking out six of the first 16 Matador batters in the game before Cal State Northridge erupted for six runs on four doubles, two triples and a pair of walks to chase Daley in the sixth inning.

Matador sophomore right-hander Chuckie Fick held Cal Poly to two runs and four hits in 8.1 innings before the Mustangs rallied for five runs in the ninth to chase Fick.

Joe Rocchio, a junior right-hander who already had recorded a pair of saves against Cal Poly this season, relieved Fick in the ninth and surrendered a game-tying two-run home run to Grant Desme followed by a go-ahead RBI double to left-center field by Matt Cooper.

Matador center fielder Johnny Coit made a diving attempt to his right, but the ball dribbled off his glove and Pat Pezet scored to give Cal Poly a 7-6 lead.

Senior right-hander Rocky Roquet gave up a two-out single in the bottom of the ninth, but nothing else for his seventh save of the season. He struck out two.

Desme and Bryan Kepner both had two hits for Cal Poly and both hit home runs. For Desme, it was his seventh of the season. Kepner’s blast, his second of the year, was a solo shot, also to center field, in the seventh inning and started the Mustangs’ comeback from a 6-1 deficit.

The ninth inning began with Corey Barthel, in just his third game of the season, notching a single.

Barthel is 3-for-6 this season. Jimmy Van Ostrand walked and outfielder Jimmy Gardiner produced a two-run single to left field, drawing the Mustangs to within 6-4 and chasing Fick.

Desme greeted Rocchio with a 1-0 smash to center field, tying the game at 6-6. Pezet drew a walk and Cooper’s double to left-center field scored Pezet with the go-ahead run.

The win went to freshman right-hander D.J. Mauldin (1-2), who relieved Daley in the sixth inning and allowed two hits in 2.2 scoreless innings with one walk and one strikeout. Rocchio (2-1), bidding for his sixth save, instead suffered the loss.

The Mustangs dominated in the final game of the series, winning 11-3 to keep pace with the leaders in the Big West.

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