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After a one run loss in Friday night’s series opener against UC Irvine, the Cal Poly baseball team was on the right side of a pitcher’s duel on Saturday as the Mustangs won 1-0 at Baggett Stadium. The game took 1 hour and 48 minutes, making it the quickest game in the ballpark’s history, while the victory marked the second consecutive year that the Mustangs reached the 40-win mark.
On the hill for the Mustangs (40-10, 15-5 Big West) was freshman right-hander Justin Calomeni who, according to head coach Larry Lee, was supposed to pitch three or four innings before giving way to Cal Poly’s cast of relievers. But Calomeni looked too solid in the early going to be taken out of the game.
“Best I have felt all year” Calomeni said. “I was really comfortable with the fastball, I hit the corners and it felt live coming out my hand. I think I only pitched one off-speed pitch tonight.”
Calomeni used the success of his heater to strike out six Anteaters in six innings of work. He held UC Irvine scoreless and allowed two hits.
The lone Mustang run came in the bottom of the sixth, when senior third baseman Jimmy Allen’s single squeezed through the UC Irvine (34-15, 15-2 Big West) defense to score junior right fielder Nick Torres.
In the seventh, Lee summoned junior lefty Taylor Chris to the mound. He showed why his ERA has been under 1.00 for most of the season by quickly retiring the UC Irvine offense.
In the eighth, Lee sent in right-hander Reed Reilly to attempt the six-out save with Cal Poly’s slim lead.
“I just love coming into relieve in a big game,” Reilly said. “Doesn’t matter if it is three outs, six outs or nine outs, as long as I am out there.”
It took the junior 13 pitches to retire the six Anteater batters that he faced.
“The relievers have been the main components of our pitching staff that have allowed us to be successful,” Lee said.
Calomeni (8-2) got the win while UC Irvine’s Elliot Surrey (6-3) picked up the loss despite allowing just one run over eight innings of work. Reilly snagged his ninth save on the year.
Both Allen and sophomore designated hitter Brian Mundell had two hits on the day to lead Cal Poly at the plate.
Sunday’s rubber match gets underway at 1 p.m. at Baggett Stadium.