Justin Calomeni opened the season as one of the Mustangs' starting pitchers, but has emerged as the team's closer. | File Photo/Mustang News

Joseph Pack/Mustang News

Freshman right-hander Justin Calomeni pitched six scoreless innings and allowed four hits while racking up six strikeouts in a 6-0 win over Santa Clara on Tuesday night.

Rafael Salinas

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The No. 9 Cal Poly baseball team rewarded its home crowd, whom the Mustangs haven’t seen in 16 days, with a 6-0 shutout victory over Santa Clara in a fog-shortened game at Baggett Stadium on Tuesday.

Another true-freshman stepped up for Cal Poly’s pitching staff as right-hander Justin Calomeni surrendered just four hits and one walk in six innings of work.

“He’s continuing to get better,” head coach Larry Lee said. “We need him to develop as a pitcher to give us what we need this year.”

The Mustangs’ offense aided Calomeni’s efforts as early as the second inning, when Cal Poly jumped to a 4-0 lead. However, it wasn’t the usual suspects — junior right fielder Nick Torres, sophomore designated hitter Brian Mundell or senior third baseman Jimmy Allen — who sparked the offense. The eight and nine hitters, sophomore shortstop Peter Van Gansen and senior catcher Chris Hoo, combined to go 5 for 7 with three RBIs and two runs scored.

In that inning, the Mustangs (9-2) capitalized on a Santa Clara error as sophomore Alex Michaels beat out an infield single to move over a runner. Van Gansen then laid down a bunt that found its way between the third baseman and the pitcher to load the bases for Hoo. The senior smashed a pitch high over the center fielder’s head for a two-RBI double.

Calomeni ran with the lead from there as he got ahead of most hitters on the night, tallying first pitch strikes to 12 of the 23 batters he faced.

“Early on, I was iffy with my command, but I was able to battle even when the count would get to 1-0 or 2-0,” Calomeni said.

After tossing six scoreless innings, Calomeni lowered his ERA to 1.69 for the season. Calomeni accompanies Slater Lee as the second true freshman starter on the Mustang staff.

“(Slater) Lee and Calomeni have been fairly consistent,” Larry Lee said. “We’re looking at big things in the future.”

With the Broncos on their heels early, the mistakes began to compound. The visitors made five errors in the first six innings, while the Mustangs regularly capitalized on the opportunities.

“Hitting is difficult, but we had fairly good approaches tonight and it’s a step in the right direction,” Lee said.

The runs kept coming in the fifth inning, as Mundell hit a fly ball deep into the dense fog that fell in front of the right fielder to put him on second base. Allen followed that up with an RBI-double.

Van Gansen — playing on his 20th birthday — was hit by a pitch to put men on first and second before Hoo singled in another run.

Van Gansen played like it was his birthday, as the sophomore went 3 for 3 with a run scored. Van Gansen is swinging a hot bat, as he’s gone 7 for 9 in his last four games.

“Lucky day I guess; I had fun out here with my team,” Van Gansen said. “After a pretty bad loss, it’s good for us to come out here and redeem ourselves.”

Offensive production from top to bottom is something Larry Lee said he feels this team is capable of.

“Some of our hitters are getting more comfortable,” he said. “We’re hoping during this stretch of 18 games at home that our guys start taking better approaches and better swings.”

The fog eventually grew too dense and the game was called in the bottom of the seventh.

The Mustangs teased the crowd with one game at home before they head to the Pacific Northwest for a weekend series against the University of Seattle this weekend.

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