RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Senior southpaw Kyle Anderson earned his 10th victory of the season and sophomore left fielder David Armendariz drove in three runs with a trio of doubles as Cal Poly clinched its three-game Big West Conference baseball series Saturday night at UC Riverside with a 15-9 victory.
In earning their season-high sixth straight win and the 13th in their last 16 games, the Mustangs improved to 35-20 on the year and 15-8 in Big West games. Cal Poly is tied for second place in the Big West with Long Beach State as the 49ers defeated first-place Cal State Fullerton 5-1 at Blair Field.
Cal Poly can still finish in a tie for first place with a win Sunday at UC Riverside and a Long Beach State victory over Cal State Fullerton. All three teams would finish 16-8 in conference play, with the 49ers earning the automatic bid to the NCAA regionals.
Anderson (10-1) allowed one unearned run and five hits in six innings of work with five strikeouts and no walks. Anderson (pictured at right) is the first Mustang pitcher since 2007 to win 10 or more games. Thomas Eager won 11 contests five years ago.
Anderson, who had compiled a 7.27 ERA in his last five starts, nevertheless was 3-0 with two no-decisions during that stretch. His lone loss of the regular season was to Minnesota in mid-March.
Cal Poly scored the first 14 runs of the game and coasted to the victory. UC Riverside made it close with a six-run seventh-inning rally and two more in the eighth before Reed Reilly, the fifth Mustang pitcher, closed it out in the ninth.
Cal Poly broke the game open with an eight-run third-inning uprising thanks to four doubles and a quartet of singles. Mitch Haniger singled in two runs, Jimmy Allen and Armendariz both had RBI doubles, Torres singled in a run, Chris Hoo doubled to drive in two more and Wise singled for the final tally as the Mustangs sent 13 batters to the plate.
A four-run fifth-inning Mustang rally was sparked by a two-run Armendariz double and a run-scoring single by Mike Miller for a 14-0 cushion.
The Highlanders averted a shutout with an unearned run off Anderson in the sixth and cut Cal Poly's once 14-run lead in half with six runs in the seventh.
Cal Poly bumped the advantage back up to eight with a run on Haniger's sacrifice fly in the eighth. Haniger now has 64 RBI this season, the most since Steve Rohlmeier had 65 RBI in 1997. Haniger has 137 career RBI, tied for No. 5 all-time with Luke Yoder.
UC Riverside scored twice in the bottom of the eighth to trim the deficit to six before Reilly was summoned from the bullpen to pitch the ninth and retired the side in order, two on strikeouts.
Armendariz tied a school record with his three doubles. Eleven Mustangs have accomplished the feat since Cal Poly moved to Division I 18 years ago.
Wise finished with two doubles and a single for two RBI while Torres singled twice and collected a pair of RBI. Allen doubled twice with one RBI, Miller added two singles and Hoo accumulated a single and double with two RBI.
Cal Poly's 16 hits included a season-high eight doubles and eight singles. The Mustangs also had 16 hits in an 11-2 victory Friday night and have averaged 12.5 runs in their last four games.
UC Riverside committed four errors, but only three Mustang runs were unearned.
The loss went to Highlander junior right-hander Trevor Frank (2-8), who allowed nine runs (eight earned) and eight hits with two walks and no strikeouts in two-plus innings.
First baseman Vince Gonzalez had three hits while Eddie Young and Clayton Prestridge each added a pair for UC Riverside.
Freshman right-hander Bryan Granger (0-1, 4.50 ERA) will start on the mound Sunday for Cal Poly, to be opposed by UC Riverside sophomore southpaw Dylan Stuart (7-6, 3.77 ERA).