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A dominating, 10-strikeout performance from sophomore right-handed pitcher Casey Bloomquist propelled Cal Poly to a 1-0 win and a series victory against UC Santa Barbara on Sunday. Each team entered the series with a top-15 national ranking — Cal Poly at No. 5 and UC Santa Barbara at No. 13 — and each team picked up a win in the series’ first two games.
Clutch hitting by several Gauchos carried UC Santa Barbara to an 8-6 victory in the series opener on Friday and senior catcher Chris Hoo’s single in the bottom of the ninth in Saturday’s game gave the Mustangs a victory in game two. For Sunday’s rubber match, it was shutout pitching from Bloomquist that helped give Cal Poly a win in the series finale.
“I had a lot of stuff working today,” Bloomquist said. “I was able to establish the sinker and hit spots with my fastball.”
A season-high 2,489 fans turned out to watch Bloomquist’s seventh start; he pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings and scattered five hits.
“You could tell in the bullpen that he had all his pitches working; he used both sides of the plate and threw a good changeup to right- and left-handed hitters,” head coach Larry Lee said.
But it was the sinkerball, a pitch the 6-foot-3 righty has become synonymous with, that proved most effective. He forced UC Santa Barbara’s hitters into several groundballs in addition to his 10 strikeouts.
“Because (Bloomquist) is right-handed, I went into the game knowing that I will get a lot of groundballs to third, and it pumped me up,” senior third baseman Jimmy Allen said.
UC Santa Barbara starting pitcher Shane Bieber did his best to match Bloomquist. The freshman right-hander struck out six Mustangs in 5 2/3 innings of work — the sole run he allowed came on Allen’s triple in the 4th inning.
Allen’s RBI was just enough for reliever Taylor Chris to finish off a potent Gaucho lineup. The junior would collect the final four outs to pick up the save, giving Bloomquist (7-0) his seventh win in as many starts.
While Bloomquist dazzled for much of the game, Lee was especially appreciative of the effort Chris put in.
“Taylor’s been our savior in some important games this season,” Lee said.
The Mustangs look to carry the momentum into their Tuesday matchup vs. St. Mary’s. The 3 p.m. game will mark the finale of an 18-game home stand.