Cal Poly will undoubtedly drop out of the top 25 when the latest rankings come available after losing two of three to unranked Santa Clara over the weekend. Cal Poly lost its first two games by scores of 15-9 and 7-5, but did manage to win the final game of the series 3-2.
In Sunday’s game, pinch-hitter Bryan Kepner singled through the left side of the Santa Clara infield with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, scoring pinch-runner Chad Pruett to give No. 22 Cal Poly the win at Baggett Stadium.
The Mustangs improved to 10-5 on the season while Santa Clara, which has won two of three games against Cal Poly each of the last three years, fall to 7-6, its four-game winning streak snapped Sunday. The Broncos won 15-9 and 7-5 on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
Junior catcher Matt Canepa drew a leadoff walk on four pitches in the Mustang ninth and Pruett ran for Canepa. Senior outfielder Jimmy Gardiner’s sacrifice bunt moved Pruett to second base and first baseman Adam Buschini’s comebacker allowed Pruett to take third.
Kepner, a junior from Whittier and a transfer from Cerritos College pinch-hitting for senior shortstop Gilbert Gil, hit a 2-1 pitch from Jeff Lombard into left field for the game-winning hit.
Senior right-hander Rocky Roquet (1-0) pitched 2.1 scoreless innings for the win, striking out three while allowing no hits. Although he did not get the decision, starter Evan Reed pitched six solid innings, allowing one run and eight hits with one walk and three strikeouts.
“The performance of Reed is what we needed,” fourth-year Mustang coach Larry Lee said. “He gave us six solid innings and had good command of both his fastball and curveball.”
The loss went to Lombard (0-1). Santa Clara starter Matt Wickswat allowed two runs and three hits in 6.1 innings with two walks and four strikeouts.
Santa Clara collected nine hits, including a double by second baseman Eric Newton and two singles each by designated hitter Kevin Drever and first baseman Gabe Alcantar.
Cal Poly grabbed its first lead of the series with a run in the third inning. Buschini doubled, moved to third on Gil’s sacrifice bunt and came home on Brent Walker’s sacrifice fly to left.
Santa Clara scored in the top of the fourth to tie the game, but a Matt Cooper sacrifice fly put the Mustangs back ahead in the bottom half of the inning.
Santa Clara tied the game with a run in the seventh. Drever drew a leadoff walk and eventually scored on a throwing error.
That set the stage for Kepner’s ninth-inning heroics. Cal Poly left two runners on base in scoring position in the seventh inning and one more in the eighth, stranding seven runners on the basepaths for the game. Santa Clara left 12 on base.
Cal Poly, which snapped a three-game losing streak with Sunday’s win, will host the University of San Diego (7-6) for a three-game non-conference series next weekend in Baggett Stadium. The Toreros were ranked eighth in the nation by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper before getting swept by Georgia over the weekend.