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Cal Poly Rallies to Edge UC Riverside 6-5 in 10 Innings to Close Season

Cal Poly Rallies to Edge UC Riverside 6-5 in 10 Innings to Close Season


RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Cole Cabrera's check-swing single to right-center field in the 10th inning drove in the tie-breaking run and lifted Cal Poly to a season-ending 6-5 victory over UC Riverside on Saturday as the Mustangs completed a sweep of their Big West Conference series at Riverside Sports Complex.

Coach Larry Lee's Mustangs finished the year with a seven-game winning streak, second place alone in the Big West at 15-9, 30-27 overall for their ninth 30-win campaign in Lee's 16 seasons and a winning mark for the 13th time in Lee's tenure.

UC Riverside, 13-11 to start the year, lost 22 of its last 28 contests to finish 19-33 overall and last in the Big West at 7-17.

UC Riverside belted three home runs to turn an early 1-0 deficit into a 5-2 lead.

In the first inning, Cal Poly right fielder Bradlee Beesley singled to left field to drive in the initial run of the game.

Nathan Webb hit a two-run shot in the second inning, Connor Cannon smashed a solo shot down the left field line in the third, his 10th of the year, and Dean Miller's solo blast in the seventh gave the Highlanders a three-run lead.

Colby Schultz singled to drive in another UC Riverside run in the sixth.

Cal Poly battled back with a run in the seventh and three in the eighth to catch the Highlanders at 5-5.

Junior center fielder Alex McKenna's groundout to second scored the run in the seventh. In the eighth, senior first baseman Elijah Skipps doubled for an RBI, junior catcher Nick Meyer (pictured at right) singled to score Skipps and sophomore second baseman Dylan Doherty's suicide squeeze bunt scored Meyer and tied the game.

Meyer led off the 10th with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After a strikeout, Cabrera, who scored the winning run Friday night on a sacrifice fly, blooped a single to right-center field to score Meyer.

Fourth-year junior Austin Dondanville, who earned saves in Thursday's 4-2 victory as well as Friday's 2-1 triumph, earned the victory Saturday to go to 2-1 on the year.

Dondanville (pictured above) scattered four hits over three scoreless innings with two walks and no strikeouts. He secured the first two outs of the bottom of the 10th with a comebacker and fly ball to left field, gave up two singles and ended the game with a force play at second base.

The 3-hour, 41-minute game featured 25 hits, UC Riverside outhitting Cal Poly 15-10.

Meyer singled three times to go 6-for-12 in the series and Skipps added a double and single for the Mustangs. Miller was 4-for-4 for the Highlanders and Cannon, Webb and Schultz each added a pair of hits.

UC Riverside used eight pitchers in the game, Adrian Garcia (0-1) suffering the loss. He had pitched just two innings prior to Saturday's game. Skyler De Los Reyes, in just his second at-bat of the year, grounded out to shortstop to end the game.

Cal Poly won 14 of its last 18 conference games after a 1-5 start, finishing in the top four for the 14th time in the last 16 seasons.

Meyer finished the year as Cal Poly's top hitter with a .344 average, reaching base in each of the Mustangs' last 29 games. Though his 17-game hitting streak was snapped Friday night, Meyer hit .405 (47 of 116) over his last 27 games this season.

McKenna posted a .339 mark and Marinconz hit .305. McKenna was .406 in Big West games and Marinconz boosted his average 70 points over the last 13 weeks of the season.

On the mound, senior southpaw Trent Shelton posted a 5-1 mark in conference games and was 6-3 overall. Freshman right-hander Darren Nelson finished 5-4 and junior righty Michael Clark 4-6. Dondanville led the team with his four saves.

Cal Poly was 4-1 in extra-inning games this season, all 10 innings.

Photo courtesy of Lauren Pluim