DAVIS, Calif. – A sacrifice fly by Elijah Greene in the ninth inning capped Cal Poly's comeback from a 5-0 deficit as the Mustangs swept UC Davis for the first time in Northern California, earning a 6-5 victory Sunday afternoon inside Dobbins Stadium.
UC Davis scored all of its runs in the third inning for a 5-0 lead before Cal Poly mounted its comeback, improving to 16-17 for the season and 7-2 in Big West games, a half-game ahead of UC Santa Barbara. The Gauchos (27-5, 5-1 Big West) completed a sweep of UC Irvine (21-9, 5-4 Big West) on Sunday with a 3-2 triumph.
"Our relievers were the key, down 5-0 and the bullpen comes in and doesn't give up any more from the third inning on," said 17th-year Mustang head coach Larry Lee. "This keeps us with the upper echelon of the Big West and that was our goal this weekend."
With the win, Lee surpassed Dave Snow as the winningest coach in Big West games. Lee now has 219 conference wins as head coach at Cal Poly. Snow, head coach at Long Beach State from 1989-2001 and a Cal Poly alum, earned 218 victories.
UC Davis (10-18, 3-6 Big West) erupted for five runs in the third inning, parlaying four hits, a walk, a hit batter and a sacrifice fly into its 5-0 lead.
Mustang starter Darren Nelson was knocked out of the game in the third inning for the fourth time in his last five starts. Caleb Van Blake singled to drive in two, Logan Denholm doubled for another run and a bases-loaded walk and sacrifice fly accounted for the other two runs in the five-run uprising.
Michael Clark, who pitched 3 1/3 innings, Andrew Alvarez, who served up a double-play ball with the bases loaded in the sixth inning, and Taylor Dollard held the Aggies off the scoreboard the rest of the way, allowing the Mustangs a chance to mount a comeback.
Trailing 5-0, Cal Poly scored its first two runs of the game in the fifth, both unearned, on Myles Emmerson's grounder to shortstop which was misplayed for an error and Connor Gurnik's RBI double down the left-field line.
The Mustangs added three more in the eighth to tie the game at 5-5. Greene's groundout to second base made it 5-3, Beesley singled for another run and Conagher Sands singled to center field to drive in the tying run.
In the top of the ninth, Nick DiCarlo drew a one-out walk, Emmerson and Gurnik singled to load the bases and Greene's fly ball to left field scored DiCarlo with the go-ahead run.
Dollard (2-0) gave up a leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth, but retired the next three batters for the victory. The sophomore righty allowed one hit over 1 2/3 innings with a walk and two strikeouts.
The loss went to Steve Ouelette (0-3), the last of three UC Davis pitchers, who gave up the go-ahead run in the ninth.
"We got some real clutch performances by our position players this weekend," said Lee, "and Clark and Dollard pitched well out of the bullpen."
Gurnik produced his third three-hit game of the season – he also had a four-hit contest against Santa Clara two weeks ago – while Beesley and Emmerson added two hits each as Cal Poly outhit UC Davis 12-11. Greene drove in two runs with a groundout and sacrifice fly.
Van Blake had three hits for the Aggies and Logan Denholm and Cameron Briggs added two hits each.
Cal Poly hit .320 in the series, led by Beesley, who was 5-for-11 with two RBI. Emmerson was 5-for-12, Conagher Sands 4-for-10 with five RBI and Gurnik 5-for-13 with four RBI.
Cal Poly, which has won 14 of its last 22 games since a 2-9 start, continues Big West play next Thursday through Saturday at Long Beach State.
Photos courtesy of Maddie Grossman | Cal Poly Baseball Student Manager