UCSB Drops Rubber Match to Mustangs

Jackson Morrow (Photo by Vince Agapito)
Jackson Morrow (Photo by Vince Agapito)

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – For the second time in the non-conference set between UCSB and Cal Poly, the Mustangs' middle of the order bats pushed them to victory, defeating the Gauchos 10-4 in the rubber match of the series at Baggett Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The Gauchos, who lost a series for just the second time this season, dropped to 12-10, but will head into Big West action with a winning record for the sixth straight year. UCSB enters conference play with the fourth best record in the Big West. Cal Poly, who improved to 17-5, possesses the second best record in the Big West.

Cal Poly's heart-of-the-order hitters – Jimmy Allen, Nick Torres, and Brian Mundell – damaged the Gauchos pitching staff heavily on Sunday. The Mustangs' 3-4-5 hitters combined to go 7-14 on Sunday with five RBIs, six runs scored, and three extra base hits. Mundell's two-run homer in the third inning – his seventh of the year – turned out be the game winning run as it gave the Mustangs a 5-0 lead.

The Gauchos offense would mount an attempt at a comeback, plating runs off RBI singles from Jackson Morrow and Luke Swenson in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively, and scoring another pair of runs on a bases-loaded double off the bat of Cameron Newell in the eighth inning, but the Mustangs answered back each time, scoring five runs off the UCSB bullpen over the final three frames of the game.

Sophomore left-hander Greg Mahle earned the start for the Gauchos, but suffered the loss to drop his record to 3-3. Mahle allowed three earned runs and seven hits over 3 2/3 innings pitched, walking one and striking out one. Six Gaucho relievers would team up to cover the final 4 1/3 innings, allowing five runs and striking out six batters.

The bottom of the UCSB lineup provided the most punch in the loss, as the 7-8-9 hitters – Swenson, Newell, and Morrow – each had a pair of hits and accounted for all of the Gauchos' RBIs. Morrow has now had multiple hits in three of the last four games, hitting .461 over that span. Tyler Kuresa, Robby Nesovic, and Marc Venning all chipped in as well with a single apiece.

Cal Poly starter Bryan Granger improved his record to 4-2 after earning the win for his five inning, one run outing. Relievers Michael Holback and Reed Reilly were also effective, recording eight strikeouts over four innings, though Holback was touched for three runs.

The Gauchos kick off Big West play next week, travelling to Hawai'i for a four-game set with the Rainbow Warriors from Thursday, Mar. 28 through Sunday, Mar. 31. However, Sunday's series finale will not count towards the conference standings. Audio broadcasts for each game can be accessed through the baseball schedule page.