SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Cal Poly pushed across at least one run in six of its eight turns at-bat to defeat No. 9 UC Santa Barbara 10-5 and win a critical Big West series on Saturday night at Baggett Stadium.
Sophomore first baseman Austin Bush had two doubles and a pair of RBIs to lead the Gauchos (25-9-1, 5-3 Big West), who scored four runs over the first two innings after getting shut out for just the second time this season on Friday. Sophomore catcher Dempsey Grover also had a pair of hits while leadoff man Andrew Calica had a solid day himself, reaching base three times and scoring two runs.
With UCSB in the midst of one of the better seasons in program history, Saturday's loss represented the team's first series loss in conference play and just the second time this year that they've lost consecutive games.
The meat of the order came up big for the Mustangs, as cleanup hitter John Schuknecht hit a homer and scored three runs while five-hitter Michael Sanderson went 3-4 and drove in two runs.
Despite allowing eight hits and five runs over seven innings, Cal Poly's Eric Uelmen improved to 5-0 after receiving the decision. For the second straight day, Justin Bruihl had a hitless relief appearance, allowing just a hit by pitch in two innings of work.
UCSB freshman Noah Davis was tagged with the loss after allowing seven earned in 4 1/3 innings. The Gaucho bullpen did a fine job stemming the tide however, with Trevor Bettencourt and Kevin Chandler combining to throw 3 2/3 frames without allowing an earned run.
Bush's two-bagger to deep right-center in the first plated Calica, who led off the game with his 15th hit-by-pitch of the year, and put the Gauchos on the board first. Junior left fielder Billy Fredrick followed that up with a sac fly to bring in another run and give UCSB a multi-run lead heading into the last of the first.
The home team responded for a big four-run rally, with Sanderson's two-run double doing most of the damage.
Behind RBI singles from senior third baseman Ryan Clark and Calica, the Gauchos would tie the game at 4-4 in the top of the second. However, Cal Poly would score an unearned run in the bottom half of the frame to take the lead for good.
After a shaky start to the game, Uelmen settled down and more or less kept UCSB off the board for the rest of his outing. The Gauchos' last missive came when Bush pulled a double down the right field line to score Calica again in the seventh.
UCSB will look to salvage the series tomorrow afternoon, with sophomore righty Joe Record (4-3, 4.18 ERA) expected to toe the rubber for the Gauchos against Cal Poly's Jarred Zill (3-1, 2.73 ERA). The series finale is scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. first pitch and can be heard live on UCSBGauchos.com.