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Cal Poly Falls to UC Irvine, 3-1, in Opener of Big West Conference Series

Cal Poly Falls to UC Irvine, 3-1, in Opener of Big West Conference Series
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — UC Irvine overcame an early 1-0 deficit with single runs in the fifth, sixth and ninth innings for a 3-1 victory over Cal Poly Friday night before 2,122 inside Baggett Stadium.
The two teams were deadlocked for second place in the Big West Conference baseball standings prior to the opener of a three-game series. UC Irvine improved to 28-19 and 9-7 while Cal Poly, 8-8 in Big West games, fell into a tie for fourth place with Hawai'i and Long Beach State. The Mustangs are 22-26 for the year.
Right-hander Andre Pallante improved to 8-1 on the year as he struck out nine Mustang batters over six innings, allowing a run and eight hits. Sean Sparling pitched a scoreless seventh inning while Jordan Bocko earned his seventh save with two scoreless frames.
The loss went to Mustang senior southpaw Trent Shelton (4-3), who surrendered two runs and 11 hits over six innings. Austin Dondanville pitched the final three frames for Cal Poly, giving up a run and two hits.
UC Irvine outhit Cal Poly 13-10, led by center fielder Mikey Filia with a 4-for-4 day at the plate, all singles, and two runs scored. Shortstop Christian Koss added three hits, all singles, and second baseman Cole Kreuter knocked in two runs with a pair of singles.
Center fielder Alex McKenna produced a double and two singles to lead Cal Poly offensively. Designated hitter Elijah Skipps doubled twice and shortstop Kyle Marinconz added two singles.
Bradlee Beesley walked with one out in the second inning and came home on Skipps' first double for a 1-0 Mustang lead.
UC Irvine caught the Mustangs in the fifth on Kreuter's infield single and grabbed a 2-1 lead in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by catcher Matt Reitano. The Anteaters added an insurance run in the ninth on a single to left by Krueter.
Cal Poly had a couple other scoring opportunities. Two singles with one out in the fifth were wasted, the Mustangs stranded runners at first and third in the sixth and Cal Poly could not take advantage of a leadoff double by McKenna in the seventh.
Each team had a runner thrown out at the plate by the opposing center fielder.
McKenna gunned down Ryan Anderson in the second inning for his first outfield assist of the year and Filia threw out McKenna at the plate in the seventh frame.
UC Irvine also had a rare four-hit scoreless rally in the second inning. In addition to the out at the plate, Konnor Zickefoose was caught in a rundown between second and third. The Anteaters left the bases loaded.
Second game of the series will be played Saturday night at 6 with Cal Poly freshman right-hander Darren Nelson (4-4, 5.34 ERA) to face UC Irvine junior righty Taylor Rashi (3-3, 3.02 ERA).
Final game of the series is set for Sunday at 1 o'clock.
Photos courtesy of Alexander Bohlen