IRVINE, Calif. – Adrian Damla doubled three times and drove in four runs as UC Irvine jumped to a 4-0 lead in the first four innings and held on to defeat Cal Poly 7-3 in the opener of a three-game Big West Conference baseball series Friday night on Cicerone Field inside Anteater Ballpark.
Held to three singles in the first seven innings, the Mustangs rallied for three runs in the eighth on five hits, all with two outs, to close the gap to 4-3. On the fifth hit, a single to right field by Myles Emmerson, Conagher Sands was thrown out by Konnor Zickefoose at the plate trying to score from second base.
UC Irvine, which loaded the bases four times and stranded 11 runners on the basepaths, re-established its four-run cushion in the bottom of the eighth.
With the loss, Cal Poly fell out of first place in the Big West for the first time in a month, slipping to 12-4 in conference games. The Mustangs are 23-24 for the year.
UC Santa Barbara is one game ahead of the Mustangs at 13-3 following its 8-2 win over Long Beach State. UC Irvine is third at 11-5.
Damla doubled to drive in three runs in the second inning and his RBI double in the fourth made it 4-0. Damla also doubled in the sixth.
Cal Poly was held to three singles – Jack Kuzma with two outs in the third inning, Tate Samuelson with one out in the fourth and Samuelson again in the sixth – before coming to the plate in the eighth.
Bradlee Beesley opened the rally with a two-out single and a double by Elijah Greene put runners at second and third. Anteater closer Taylor Rashi was summoned from the bullpen and Samuelson knocked home both runners with a single to left.
Sands doubled to right-center field, scoring Samuelson to close the gap to one and extend his hitting streak to 21 games – fourth longest in Cal Poly's 25-year Division I history.
Catcher Griffin Mazur's three-run double to left field in the bottom of the eighth restored UC Irvine's four-run lead. All three runs were unearned because of an infield error opening the inning.
Junior right-hander Andre Pallante (8-4) earned the win, pitching six scoreless innings and allowing one walk and three hits with eight strikeouts. Rashi secured the final four outs for his 12th save.
The loss went to Mustang freshman southpaw Chase Watkins (0-2) as he walked six in two-plus innings, allowing three runs and two hits with a pair of strikeouts. Freshman righty Ryan Jameson (pictured above) tossed four scoreless innings with two hits and three strikeouts.
Second game of the series, to be broadcast on ESPN3, will be played Saturday night at 6 with Cal Poly junior right-hander Bobby Ay (7-0, 3.24 ERA) to face UC Irvine sophomore righty Trenton Denholm (7-3, 1.93 ERA).
Sunday's series finale starts at 1 o'clock.