DAVIS, Calif. – Michael Clark tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings in relief and Conagher Sands and Connor Gurnik each knocked in a pair of runs as Cal Poly opened its Big West Conference baseball series at UC Davis with a 5-1 victory Friday afternoon at Dobbins Stadium.
In relief of starter Chase Watkins, Clark (2-1) (pictured above) faced two batters over the minimum in his longest stint on the mound this season, allowing two hits and no walks with four strikeouts for the win.
Sands tripled to drive in two runs in the first inning and Gurnik singled to knock in two more runs in the fourth for the Mustangs, who improved to 14-17 overall and moved back into a tie for first place with UC Irvine in the Big West, both with 5-2 marks.
UC Davis fell to 10-16 and 3-4.
Though Cal Poly won, UC Davis outhit the Mustangs 7-6, led by shortstop Tanner Murray and right fielder Alejandro Lara, each with two singles.
With a double and triple, Sands was the lone Mustang with multiple hits.
In his first Big West start due to an injury to Jarred Zill, Watkins gave up one run and five hits over 3 1/3 innings with one walk and one strikeout in the no-decision. He was helped by inning-ending double plays in both the second and third innings.
Cal Poly, 2-5 entering Friday's game when scoring in the first inning, struck for two runs in the opening frame. With one out, Elijah Greene walked and Bradlee Beesley was the first of five Mustangs hit by pitches in the game. Sands scored both runners with his triple to right field.
In the fourth, Cal Poly extended its lead to 5-0. Again with one out, Nick DiCarlo and Cole Cabrera were hit by pitches before Jack Kuzma doubled to left-center field, scoring DiCarlo. After a grounder to third for the second out, Gurnik singled to left field to drive home both Cabrera and Kuzma.
UC Davis scored its only run in the bottom of the fourth on a single, groundout and RBI single by Lara.
Neither team scored the rest of the way. Playing its first Big West road game of the year, Cal Poly had five baserunners over the final five frames while Clark allowed just two singles and nothing else, at one time retiring 13 Aggie batters in a row and throwing 68 pitches.
Cal Poly, which played errorless defense for just the fourth time this season, has won 12 of its last 20 games following a 2-9 start.
Second game of the series is scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m. with Cal Poly junior right-hander Bobby Ay (3-0, 2.66 ERA) to face UC Davis freshman righty Jake Spillane (1-0, 4.13 ERA). Ay is 3-0 with a 1.14 ERA in his last five starts.
Sunday's series finale will start at 1 o'clock.