The Cal Poly baseball team won its second-straight Tuesday night, hanging on to an initially wide lead to defeat non-conference opponent Fresno State at Baggett Stadium, 8-5.
In a game that saw 14 different pitchers, four stolen bases and 18 strikeouts between the two teams, Cal Poly was able to build an early lead in the first inning.
Cal Poly scored twice in the first frame on three hits, including a solo home run by junior third baseman Brent Morel. Morel had two home runs and four RBI in four at-bats.
“It felt pretty good,” Morel said after the game. “I was seeing the ball well, caught the pitcher on a couple mistakes, and felt like I got my hits going tonight.”
Sophomore right-hander Kevin Castner, who started for the Mustangs (11-17), got off to a bit of a slow start by walking the first batter he faced on four pitches. He managed to retire three of the next five batters he faced, allowing only one hit in the first inning.
Inconsistent pitching by Castner allowed the Bulldogs to answer the two Cal Poly runs in the second inning, with Castner walking two batters and hitting a third. Fresno State center fielder Gavin Hedstrom then singled to left-center field, bringing in two runs.
With two on base and no outs, senior right-hander Brian Grening took Castner’s place and managed to retire the next three batters he faced, including a strikeout of Fresno State second baseman Eric Wetzel.
Grening pitched 5 1/3 innings, striking out nine and allowing only three runs and seven hits against 22 batters.
He left the game in the seventh inning after allowing a two-run homer to Fresno State first baseman Alan Ahmady, and was credited with the win after throwing 54 strikes in 84 pitches.
“Castner couldn’t find a rhythm tonight, and I’m glad that I was able to get him out of a bind,” Grening said. “Putting up zeroes has been a big thing for us this year, and that’s sort of how this game worked out for me. It was really just our bullpen looking out for one another.”
“Bran did a great job for us tonight,” agreed Mustangs head coach Larry Lee. “He got us out of a difficult situation, allowing no runs with runners on base. He gave us a number of quality innings.
“We haven’t had a lot of luck with mid-week games because of thinness in our rotation, which requires saving starters for weekend conference games. Two wins in the middle of the week is a good thing for us.”
Other highlights for the Mustangs included a deep triple to right field by sophomore first baseman Wes Dorrell, which involved Fresno State right fielder Steve Detwiler hitting the right-field wall hard in attempting to make the catch. Detwiler was given a minute to regain his composure and resumed play shortly thereafter.
Cal Poly sophomore designated hitter Luke Yoder belted a two-RBI homer in the fifth inning, giving the Mustangs an 8-2 lead, their largest of the game.
The Bulldogs (16-15) drove in a run in the sixth and two more in the seventh, bringing the score to 8-5, but were unable to close the gap any more in their second consecutive loss.
The Mustangs, who batted in eight runs on seven hits and had no errors, open a three-game home series against Pacific at 6 p.m. Friday.