DAVIS, Calif. – Bobby Ay earned his fourth straight victory and Conagher Sands and Noah Taylor both drove in a pair of runs as Cal Poly clinched its Big West Conference baseball series at UC Davis with an 8-5 victory Saturday afternoon at Dobbins Stadium.
In winning for the 13th time in 21 games since a 2-9 start, Coach Larry Lee's Mustangs improved to 15-17 for the season and 6-2 for first place alone in the Big West. UC Irvine (5-3) fell into third place with a 10-1 loss at second-place UC Santa Barbara (4-1).
Cal Poly, a 5-1 winner in Friday's series opener, overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficits with five runs in the middle innings and Ay and reliever Taylor Dollard made the 7-3 lead stand up for the win.
Ay (4-0) allowed four runs (three earned) and nine hits over 6 1/3 innings with three walks and a trio of strikeouts. In his last six starts, Ay has compiled a 4-0 mark and 1.66 ERA with 23 strikeouts over 38 innings.
Dollard secured the final eight outs in a non-save situation, giving up one run and four hits with a walk and four strikeouts.
Taylor's two-run double in the fifth inning gave Cal Poly the lead for good at 4-3 and Jack Kuzma added an RBI double to make it 5-3.
Cal Poly added two unearned runs in the sixth on an RBI single by Connor Gurnik and Sands' second sacrifice fly of the game.
Willie Cano's run-scoring single in the seventh frame added an insurance run for the Mustangs, whose eight runs and 15 hits in the game are the second highest totals of the season, behind the 13 runs and 17 hits against Columbia back on March 2.
Taylor, Kuzma, Cano, Myles Emmerson, Elijah Greene and Bradlee Beesley all collected two hits for Cal Poly. All but one of Cal Poly's hits were singles – the double by Kuzma the lone extra-base hit of the afternoon.
UC Davis was led offensively by shortstop Tanner Murray with two singles and a double. Caleb Van Blake, Cooper Morrison and Alejandro Lara all added a pair of hits for the Aggies – Lara driving in a pair of runs.
The Aggies scored once in the eighth and brought the potential go-ahead run to the plate with the bases loaded, but Logan Denholm grounded into a force play at second base to end the threat and Dollard retired the side in order in the ninth, two via strikeouts.
The loss went to UC Davis starter Jake Spillane (1-1) as he allowed five runs, all earned, and nine hits over 4 2/3 innings with three walks and no strikeouts.
Final game of the series will be played Sunday afternoon at 1 o'clock with Cal Poly sophomore right-hander Darren Nelson (2-5, 3.47 ERA) to face UC Davis senior southpaw Chris Brown (2-3, 3.24 ERA).
Photo above of Bobby Ay courtesy of Maddie Grossman | Cal Poly Baseball Student Manager