SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — For the second night in a row, Cal Poly held a lead over the Nos. 4/9 UCLA Bruins, only to let it get away in the late innings.
On Friday night, Coach Larry Lee's Mustangs overcame a 4-1 deficit with two runs in both the sixth and seventh innings for a 5-4 lead, only to see UCLA tally five in the eighth to win going away 9-5.
Twenty-four hours later, Alex McKenna (pictured above) belted a three-run home run in the fifth inning for a 3-0 Cal Poly advantage, but the Bruins bounced right back with six in the sixth frame for a 6-3 victory, clinching the non-conference baseball series inside Baggett Stadium.
UCLA is 28-10 on the year while Cal Poly fell to 19-22. The Bruins have won six straight while the Mustangs have lost three in a row since sweeping defending Big West champion Long Beach State last weekend.
McKenna's blast down the left-field line, his fourth home run of the year, off Zach Pettway broke up a scoreless game. Pettway had allowed two hits in four innings while Mustang freshman right-hander Darren Nelson had scattered six hits over five scoreless frames.
UCLA erupted for six runs on four hits, a Mustang error, a no-putout fielder's choice, a wild pitch and one walk in the top of the sixth. Key hits were a two-run triple by Kevin Kendall and a run-scoring double by Chase Strumpf.
Cal Poly had at least one baserunner in each of its final four at-bats, but couldn't get on the scoreboard again.
Pettway (7-1) earned the victory, allowing three runs and eight hits over 6 2/3 innings with no walks and five strikeouts. Nelson (4-4) suffered the loss, giving up five runs (four earned) and eight hits in five-plus innings with four walks and four strikeouts.
After giving up the RBI double to Strumpf, Austin Dondanville retired the final 12 UCLA batters of the game.
UCLA's 10 hits included a triple and single by Kendall and a double and single by Strumpf.
Cal Poly collected nine hits, including a single and double by Kyle Marinconz and two singles by Nick Meyer and Scott Ogrin. McKenna added his home run following singles by Colby Barrick and Ogrin plus a sacrifice bunt by Dylan Doherty.
Final game of the series will be played Sunday at 1 o'clock with junior right-hander Michael Clark (3-3, 6.91 ERA) of Cal Poly to face UCLA sophomore right-hander Ryan Garcia (4-0, 1.77 ERA).
It will be Bark at the Park Day with the first 100 dogs presented Cal Poly bandannas.
Photo of Alex McKenna courtesy of Michael Glasgow