No. 26 Cal Poly baseball fell to No. 6 Stanford 10-8 on Tuesday, Apr. 19 inside a packed Baggett Stadium with 2,738 fans.
The Mustangs (22-14, 9-3 Big West) were trailing 8-1 after three innings and began to ignite a late-game comeback, but dropped the game to the Cardinal (21-11, 11-7 Pac-12).
With Stanford ranked high across all different ranking sites, it is undeniable the implications a win over the Cardinals would have had. Head coach Larry Lee discussed the message to the team when playing one of the nation’s best.
“Don’t take our opponent lightly,” Lee said. “Play what we are capable of doing. Don’t concern yourself about the name across the chest.”
In the bottom of the first, freshman left fielder Ryan Stafford got the Mustangs on the board first, scoring on a wild pitch. The Mustangs had an opportunity to score more, leaving three men on the base to end the inning up 1-0.
Stanford answered by scoring eight runs on seven hits, only two of which were for extra bases, in the second and third inning to put them up big. Freshman lefty Noah Larkin got the call on the mound for the Mustangs, but could not make it through two innings.
Junior mid-relief pitcher Zach Button came in significantly earlier than usual, but couldn’t minimize the damage. The right-hander allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits through 1.2 innings pitched.
Midway through the game, graduate Brett Borgogno came in to play third for senior Tate Samuelson, who has started at the position all season. When asked about playing third base, Borgogno said, “It was good, I was seeing the ball off the bat well.”
He has reps playing third in undergrad at Cal State Fullerton but has not practiced the position much at Cal Poly.
In the fifth, Stanford scored again on a solo home run to left-center to extend their lead to 9-1.
In the bottom frame, the Mustangs bounced back. Sophomore first baseman Joe Yorke singled on his first pitch to lead off the inning, and junior catcher Collin Villegas followed with a full-count walk. Then, Borgogno roped a triple into the right-centerfield gap to score both Yorke and Villegas. The next batter, graduate right fielder John Lagattuta, pulled his 2-2 pitch over the right-field wall to bring the Mustangs to within four at 9-5.
The Cardinal got one more in the seventh, but the Mustangs finished strong defensively with a pick-off to end the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, sophomore center fielder Reagan Doss’ cutting fly ball dropped into right field to score a run and inch the Mustangs closer at 10-6.
After a scoreless top of the eighth, Yorke led off the bottom half by ripping a 2-1 pitch to right-center for a lead-off double. Villegas and sophomore second baseman Nick Marinconz, the next two batters, were hit by pitches to load the bases for designated hitter Matthias Haas.
Both Haas and redshirt senior Mark Armstrong grounded into RBI fielder’s choices to bring the score to 10-8 in favor of Stanford. The Mustangs ended the inning with one runner stranded and the tying run at the plate.
Senior righthander Jason Franks, who usually doesn’t come in when the Mustangs are down, took the mound for the ninth.
After getting the first out on a sacrifice bunt, Franks tallied strikeouts for the final two outs of the top of the ninth. Franks got the last batter on three pitches, all of which were swung through
With lefty Ryan Bruno on the bump for the Cardinals, the Mustangs went down on three consecutive strikeouts to end the game.
Cal Poly will take on UC Riverside from Friday, Apr. 22 through Sunday, Apr. 24 at Riverside Sports Complex.
Another conference series win over the Highlanders will help the Mustangs make the late-season push against UC Santa Barbara for the Big West crown.