Cal Poly softball split decisions in the Judi Garman Classic this weekend, winning two of their four games. The Mustangs, who have yet to play a home game, are now 9-9 overall.
The first game against Fresno State Friday was postponed due to rain with the game tied 2-2 in the fourth inning. The game resumed Sunday morning, when the Bulldogs won with a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the seventh. Mustangs senior right-hand pitcher Lindsey Chalmers allowed only four hits and two runs through six innings, but lost her third game of the season.
Cal Poly’s ace pitcher otherwise performed well, leading the Mustangs in their two wins including a complete game against Iowa. After giving up a two-run home run to Hawkeye center-fielder Allie Wood in the third, Chalmers locked the Iowa offense down.
While Iowa only recorded two more hits, Cal Poly found some offensive momentum in clutch moments to take the lead. Sophomore first baseman Hailey Martin put the Mustangs ahead with a two-run home run in the top of the sixth.
Iowa was not completely out of it, however, threatening to win the game late. In the sixth inning, the Hawkeyes advanced a runner to third base on a wild pitch with only one out. However, Chalmers retired two straight batters to get out of the jam.
The Hawkeyes were in a similar position in the bottom of the seventh. Chalmers let Iowa pitcher Mallory Kilian on base with a hit-by-pitch to start the inning. A sacrifice bunt pushed Kilian to second and a passed ball allowed her to take third with one out. The ensuing Hawkeye batter grounded the ball to senior shortstop Chelsea Convissar, with Kilian breaking for home to tie the game. Convissar threw it home to catch Kilian in a pickle, eventually recording the second out. Chalmers struck out her sixth of the game to seal the 3-2 victory for Cal Poly.
Cal Poly’s first game on Saturday, against No. 25 Michigan, did not go as well. Sophomore right-hand pitcher Shelby Jeffries pitched only one and one-third innings, giving up six earned runs on five hits. The Wolverines led 8-0 at the end of two innings. The Mustangs strung together a few hits to score three runs, but Michigan scored three more to force the run-rule in the fifth inning. Jeffries picked up her second loss of the season in the 11-3 rout.
The final game of the weekend ended with extra innings against Michigan State. The Mustangs struck first with a solo home run from senior center-fielder Amanda Sandoval in the third inning. Junior right-fielder Crimson Kaiser joined the fun in the next inning with a solo home run of her own, giving Cal Poly a 2-0 lead heading into the fifth.
The Spartans then responded with their own solo home run in the fifth inning. Chalmers was substituted back in at pitcher, retiring six of the first seven she faced. With a one-run lead in the seventh, Michigan State spun momentum to their side with a two-run home run. Chalmers retired the next two batters, but Cal Poly was now down 3-2 with their final chance.
Sandoval led off the inning with a single to center-field. The next two Mustangs were unable to advance her, and Sandoval was stuck on first with two out. Senior third baseman Stephanie Heyward then launched a double to center-field to drive in Sandoval. The game was now tied heading into the eighth.
With the international tiebreaker rule in effect, where the offense starts with a runner on second, Chalmers retired the side to give Cal Poly a chance at a walk-off victory in the bottom of the eighth.
Cal Poly freshman Jackie Napoli started on second while the first Mustang batter drew a walk. Ensuing Mustang batter junior Megan Nordin made contact towards Michigan State second baseman Melanie Baccay, who misplayed the ball. Napoli scored on the fielding error and the Mustangs won 4-3.
Cal Poly’s game against Loyola Marymount scheduled to be played last Sunday was canceled. The Mustangs will play their first home games of the season in the ShareSLO Mustang Classic March 9-11, featuring matchups against Marist, North Dakota and Santa Clara.