Sophomore pitchers Lindsey Chalmers (7-9) and Stephanie Heyward (1-4) decided to give the Mustangs’ bullpen the day off on Saturday as Cal Poly (18-17, 2-6 Big West) won both games of its doubleheader at Long Beach State (24-15, 4-4). Both pitchers threw complete-games to give the Mustangs their first wins in the last month, and their first Big West Conference wins of the season. Heyward also earned her first collegiate win behind her dominating pitching performance.
Chalmers got off to a rocky start in the first game, but was able to pitch her way around it. In the bottom of the first inning, the 49ers loaded the bases with only one out. Chalmers induced a shallow fly ball to left field from 49ers’ designated player Tierra Falo and struck out first baseman Lauren Lombardi to get out of the inning with no damage done.
The Mustangs faced a steep challenge, as they faced one of the best pitchers in the NCAA this year, Christina Clermont (14-6). Clermont and the 49ers did not make many mistakes, but when they finally did the Mustangs did not look back.
After retiring the first nine batters she faced, Clermont gave up a single to center field to Heyward, who started the first game as the Mustangs’ designated player. Sophomore center fielder Amanda Sandoval then reached base safely after a fielding error by 49ers third baseman Darian Tautalafua. Clermont walked the next two batters, senior first baseman Breana West and junior second baseman Ashley Tornio, to score Heyward, giving Cal Poly a 1-0 lead.
Chalmers and the Cal Poly defense did not allow another runner to pass first base the rest of the game, putting an end to the Mustangs’ 11-game losing streak.
Heyward carried the momentum from the win into the second game, as she only gave up one unearned run and three hits while recording four strikeouts. Like Chalmers, Heyward ran into a bit of trouble in the first couple inning before settling in.
After the 49ers left a runner on base in the bottom of the first inning, they were able to get runners on first and second with nobody out in the bottom of the second inning, only to leave them stranded as well. Lombardi led off with an infield single, and Falo followed by reaching base safely on a fielding error by Mustangs sophomore third baseman Alejandra Garcia. Heyward induced three straight ground balls, leaving the 49ers empty-handed.
Heyward helped herself out by leading off the top of the third with a double to left field. After a Sandoval strike out, junior designated player Sierra Hyland double to right-center field to score Heyward. West followed suit with another double to score Hyland and to give the Mustangs a 2-0 lead.
That was all of the offense that Heyward needed. The one unearned run the Mustangs gave up came in the fourth inning. After 49ers catcher Lauren MacLeod drew a full count walk, Mustangs catcher Makenna Young committed a throwing error to second base during a play which 49er right fielder Rachel Loera bunted, allowing MacLeod to advance to third. The next batter, center fielder Alley Perkins, hit into a fielder’s choice that scored MacLeod.
The Mustangs added some insurance runs in the top of the seventh, as West picked up two more RBI with another double to left that scored Hyland and Sandoval who both reached base after back-to-back, two-out singles.
Cal Poly will look to carry the momentum from these games to their series finale against Long Beach State Sunday.