SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Fourth-year junior right-hander Bobby Ay earned his third straight victory and junior center fielder Bradlee Beesley produced his ninth career three-hit game as Cal Poly evened its series against Cal State Fullerton at a game apiece with a 5-3 victory Saturday night inside Baggett Stadium.
In front of a national television audience (ESPNU) as well as their largest home crowd of the season (2,336), including members of Cal Poly's 1989 NCAA Division II national championship team, the Mustangs erased the memory of Friday night's 16-2 loss by scoring five times in the first four innings for a 5-0 lead and holding on for the win.
Cal Poly improved to 13-15 for the season and remains tied with UC Irvine for first place in the Big West Conference, both with 4-1 marks. Cal State Fullerton fell to 13-14 and 2-3.
In his first three starts of the season, Ay had no decisions and an 8.00 ERA. In five starts since, including Saturday's performance, the El Toro High School graduate has compiled a 3-0 record and a stingy 1.14 ERA over 31 2/3 innings.
Against the Titans, Ay allowed one run and five hits over 7 1/3 innings with three walks and four strikeouts. He has gone 7 1/3 innings three times in his Mustang career, including twice this season, and his 108 pitches Saturday is a career high.
Senior righty Michael Clark, who earned saves in each of Cal Poly's three wins last weekend against CSUN, entered Saturday's game in a non-save situation and recorded the final five outs, though he gave up two runs.
The loss went to Kyle Luckham (3-3), surrendering five runs (four earned) and eight hits over four innings with four strikeouts. Timothy Josten pitched well in relief for the Titans, retiring all 12 Mustang batters he faced, five via strikeout.
Cal Poly, which played errorless defense for only the third time this season, scored twice in both the second and third innings.
An RBI single by Dylan Doherty (pictured at left) and a sacrifice fly by Connor Gurnik plated the runs in the second frame. Two Cal State Fullerton throwing errors on the left side of the infield gave the Mustangs a 4-0 advantage in the third.
Elijah Greene drew a two-out walk in the fourth and came home on Beesley's double to the gap in left-center field. Beesley leads the Mustangs in RBIs this season with 18.
Held scoreless through seven innings, the Titans broke through for two runs in the eighth on an RBI triple by Mitchell Berryhill and Sahid Valenzuela's groundout to second base. Cal State Fullerton added another run in the ninth as Daniel Cope tripled with one out and came home on Jairus Richards' grounder to second.
Beesley, with two doubles and a single, was the lone Mustang with multiple hits. Berryhill had three hits for the Titans and Cope added a pair.
The series finale and rubber match Sunday starts at 1 o'clock with Cal Poly sophomore right-hander Darren Nelson (2-4, 3.18 ERA) to face Cal State Fullerton freshman righty Michael Knorr (2-2, 5.71 ERA).
Photos courtesy of Owen Main | www.fansmanship.com