Senior right fielder John Schuknecht hit a grand slam in the fifth inning of Cal Poly's 17-5 win over UC Irvine on Sunday. | Tommy Tran/Mustang News

The Cal Poly baseball team hosted UC Irvine in Baggett Stadium for a three-game series this past weekend, with the Mustangs looking to improve their 28-22 overall record before Big West Conference play ends in a few weeks.

After starting the series strong with a 9-1 victory on Friday, then falling short to the Anteaters with an 11-2 blowout loss on Saturday, winning Sunday’s rubber match against the Anteaters was crucial.

The Mustangs were able to bounce back and produce one of their highest-scoring performances of the season with a 17-5 victory on Sunday.

A four run, one-hit first inning got the ball rolling for the Mustangs. The Anteaters committed three errors in the bottom of the first inning to give the Mustangs three unearned runs and an early lead.

Though the first inning gave the Mustangs a strong start, they put forth an even more impressive performance in the bottom of the fifth inning, scoring seven runs in the inning – marked by two back-to-back home runs.

Senior right fielder John Schuknecht opened the inning with a grand slam home run that allowed him, junior center fielder Brett Barbier, freshman left fielder Alex McKenna and junior shortstop Brett Binning to score.

Freshman catcher Nick Meyer knocked in a solo home run in the at-bat following Schuknecht’s grand slam, his first home run of the season.

An RBI double from Binning scored sophomore designated hitter Josh George and junior third baseman Michael Sanderson to wrap up the six hit, seven run fifth inning.

Cal Poly took the lead even further to 17-2 with a home run by Barbier that also brought in a run from freshman second baseman Dylan Dougherty.

UC Irvine added two runs in the top of the seventh inning and another run in the eighth inning, but the deficit stayed in double digits at 17-5.

A home run in the bottom of the sixth inning by Barbier marked the Mustangs’ third home run of the game.

Schuknecht ended the game with an impressive individual performance, with a total of six RBI, four from his grand slam alone.

This victory leaves the Mustangs’ conference record at 9-9, good for fifth in the Big West Conference.

The Mustangs return to the road for a series of games this week, traveling to CSU Bakersfield for a non conference ballgame on Tuesday and to fourth-place UC Riverside for a three-game series this weekend. A strong week accompanied with losses from other conference opponents could propel the Mustangs into the top-three in the conference standings.

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