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Cal Poly Baseball wins final non-conference series against Utah Tech

In their final non-conference series of the season, Cal Poly Baseball took three of four games from Utah Tech, setting them up for two more crucial Big West matchups.

The Mustangs (31-19, 17-7 Big West) took the series over the Trailblazers (13-39, 9-18 WAC) behind timely hitting and steady pitching.

The weekend series did not impact Cal Poly’s Big West record, but the Mustangs are currently ranked third in the conference behind second-place No. 15 UC Irvine and first-place No. 22 UC Santa Barbara.

Cal Poly took two of three against both teams earlier this season, meaning they have ties over the Gauchos and Anteaters should the situation arise.

However, the Mustangs are one game behind UC Irvine and three games behind UC Santa Barbara. So the Green and Gold will need help from other Big West teams to push Cal Poly over the top.

Wright gets through eight as the offense stays hot

Redshirt sophomore left-hander Jakob Wright trotted back to the mound in the eighth inning with 91 pitches in seven innings.

Despite giving up a single to the second batter that inning, head coach Larry Lee trusted his ace and let Wright finish the inning.

Wright would strike out the next two batters he faced and end the inning with a swinging strikeout with a slider in the dirt.

Friday starter Jakob Wright was great for eight innings as he struckout nine Trailblazers. Owen Roberts | Mustang News.

“If I just fill up the zone with all my pitches, it’s going to be a long night for the hitters,” Wright said.

Wright’s eight innings of one-run ball and nine strikeouts helped propel Cal Poly over Utah Tech on Friday, May 10.

“He was good, he had a lot of good pitches,” Lee said. “Sets the tone on a Friday night.”

True freshman design hitter Braxton Thomas hit a sacrifice fly in the first inning to put the Mustangs on the board first.

This was the first time Thomas had hit the three-hole all season, after typically hitting sixth or seventh in the lineup.

Coach Lee says this series allowed him to play with the lineup a bit more due to the lower stakes of a non-conference series.

“This weekend is the time for experimentation when experiments are happening,” Lee said.

Redshirt junior second baseman Ryan Fenn took the lead with a solo home run in the second inning.

Despite a triple play in the bottom of the seventh, the Mustangs scored runs in the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth to secure the 7-2 victory.

Mustangs narrowly beat Trailblazers in game one of doubleheader

The Mustangs continued the streak with a 3-2 win over the Trailblazers in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader. The game marked their sixth straight win against Utah Tech.

Unlike Friday’s win, it took a while for the Mustangs to get going offensively. They managed five hits in the first three innings of the game, but were unable to capitalize on any of their opportunities, leaving all five men on base.

It wasn’t until the fourth inning that Cal Poly finally scored the first run of the game, courtesy of Thomas

Southpaw reliever Jake Torres limited the damage just enough to allow the offense to break through in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader. Owen Roberts | Mustang News.

Thomas continued the red-hot start to his college career by launching a 450-foot home run to right center field. The blast marked his fifth of the year, giving him the second-highest finish on the team in his ninth game of the season.

After allowing just one hit and striking out three in the first four innings, Mustang junior starter Steven Brooks began to falter.

Brooks faced only three batters in the fifth, loading the bases with an out yet to be recorded. Coach Lee made a pitching change and brought in junior reliever Jake Torres.

Although Brooks allowed just one hit, he struggled to gain control throughout the game, giving up six walks while striking out three batters and recording just three strikeouts in his four innings.

The Trailblazers took advantage of the bases loaded situation and scored their first run on a fielder’s choice. A balk by Torres in the next at bat brought the runner on third base over home plate, giving Utah Tech a 2-1 lead without a hit in the inning.

But again it was Thomas who came through for the Mustangs, tying the game at 2-2 with an RBI groundout. Two batters later, freshman third baseman Alejandro Garza ripped a single back up the middle, scoring senior first baseman Joe Yorke and regaining the lead for the Mustangs at 3-2.

Torres cruised through the next two innings and junior closer Tanner Sagouspe secured the victory for Cal Poly in the ninth, picking up his seventh save of the year.

The bullpen once again proved to be the Mustangs’ hero, and it was Torres who had the most heroic performance of the game. He thought the reason for his strong performance was quite simple.

“Just going after the hitters… I think (that) was the biggest thing,” he said. “If you’re falling behind in counts, you’ve got to give them good pitches to hit. So (the key was) just staying ahead of the curve, making my pitch and trusting the process.”

However, Torres felt that with the team heading into the home leg of the season, such a win was exactly the kind they needed.

“I think it’s super important, especially from a pitching perspective… showing the offense that when they’re struggling, sometimes we can pick them up.”

On Saturday, Torres delivered another great performance in a high-leverage situation, taking his second win of the year; Four innings pitched, four strikeouts and no hits, walks or runs allowed.

The offense will be tough as the Mustangs split the doubleheader

Despite another strong effort from the bullpen, Cal Poly’s offense struggled in the nightcap of the doubleheader, and the Mustangs suffered their first-ever loss to Utah Tech by a score of 6–2.

Head coach Larry Lee was extremely blunt in his assessment of his team’s performance (or lack thereof) when asked what the positives were from Saturday’s two games.

“We just haven’t played well this entire series,” Lee said. “I understand it’s a non-conference series, and the intensity level … is at a higher level (in conference play), but we just figured it out.”

Charlie Royle impressed in game two of Saturday’s doubleheader, pitching over six innings in relief while allowing just one run. Mia-Isobel Craig | Mustang News.

Utah Tech jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning. But as they had done all series, the Mustangs responded immediately in their half of the inning.

Yorke added to his school-record RBI total by hitting the ball back up the middle for a two-RBI single, giving Cal Poly the lead.

With a runner on second base and two outs, first-year starter Josh Volmerding appeared to escape the jam.

Instead, the next pitch he threw was smoked the other way for a game-tying RBI double, and after a passed ball on the next at-bat, the Trailblazers took a 3-2 lead.

Utah Tech didn’t back down and chased Volmerding out of the game to take a 5-2 lead in the third inning.

Volmerding was charged with his first loss of the year, lasting just 2 2/3 innings, while allowing six hits and five runs, in addition to striking out three batters and walking two.

The Trailblazers would score another run in the fifth inning off of sophomore reliever Charlie Royle, the only other pitcher used by Cal Poly.

As the Mustang offense stalled, Royle pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing just four hits and one run while striking out two.

Both Royle and Torres gave Cal Poly some much-needed length out of the bullpen on Saturday. But as consistent as the Mustang attack has been lately, they ran out of gas in their nightcap.

“Offensively, I thought we hit it well (in both games). A lot of balls hit hard, just right on guys,” Ryan Fenn said. “We just didn’t put it together very well in the second game.”

Individually, it was junior catcher Ryan Stafford (2-2 with a double, a run scored and two walks), Yorke (1-4 with two RBIs) and Fenn (2-4 with a double and a run scored) who led the away for Cal Poly.

Cal Poly’s offense leads to a complete series victory

Cal Poly Baseball found a rhythm on both sides of the ball in Sunday’s 8-1 win over Utah Tech to close out the series win.

Freshman starter Griffin Naess led the way for the Mustangs with a stellar performance. Naess went seven innings without allowing a single run and struck out seven Trailblazers.

Just like in Friday’s game, the Mustangs struck first with a sacrifice fly in the second inning off the bat of junior outfielder Zach Daudet.

Cal Poly scored four runs in the fourth inning to take a comfortable 5–0 lead, before scoring three more runs in the fifth inning.

Ryan Fenn hit leadoff in Sunday’s game and recorded three hits in Cal Poly’s win. Bobby Groth | Mustang News.

Fenn led the way on first down for the Mustangs, finishing the day 3-for-5 with one RBI. Daudet also had two singles and three RBI’s.

Cal Poly will look to ride this momentum into two crucial Big West Conference series against UC San Diego and Long Beach State.

The Mustangs are ranked third in the Big West behind No. 22 UC Santa Barbara and No. 15 UC Irvine.

Despite drawing the Gauchos and the Anteaters, Cal Poly will need some help from their opponents as they are three games behind first-place UC Santa Barbara.

Before heading into their most crucial stretch of the season, the Mustangs will travel to Malibu, CA to take on Pepperdine in a midweek non-conference matchup on Tuesday, May 14 at 3:00 PM.