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Cal Poly Opens Big West Series Against UC Riverside With 12-3 Victory

Cal Poly Opens Big West Series Against UC Riverside With 12-3 Victory
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Connor Gurnik singled three times for his fifth three-hit game of the season and Cole Cabrera knocked in three runs with a pair of singles as Cal Poly opened its three-game Big West Conference baseball series Friday night with a 12-3 victory over UC Riverside inside Baggett Stadium.
Chase Watkins, Taylor Dollard and Ryan Jameson combined to strike out 14 Highlanders for Cal Poly, which scored in double figures for just the fourth time this season and improved to 25-26 for the year and 14-5 in Big West games. UC Riverside, which committed five errors in the game, fell to 17-33 and 6-13.
UC Santa Barbara (8-2 over Hawai'i) and UC Irvine (10-2 over UC Davis) also were victorious Friday, leaving the top three teams in the Big West standings the same -- Gauchos 16-3, Mustangs 14-5 and Anteaters 13-3.
Yeager Taylor's RBI single in the top of the first inning gave UC Riverside a 1-0 lead. It was short-lived as Tate Samuelson (pictured below at right) smashed his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot to left-center field, in the bottom of the first for a 1-1 tie.
Cabrera's RBI single down the right-field line gave Cal Poly a 2-1 lead in the second inning and the Mustangs added two more runs in the third for a 4-1 cushion. A groundout by Conagher Sands made it 3-1 and Nick DiCarlo singled to center field for a 4-1 advantage.
Continuing to score in each of the first six innings, Cal Poly tallied a run in the fourth inning on a throwing error and broke the game open with four in the fifth and three more in the sixth.
Cabrera singled up the middle for two RBI in the fifth, Elijah Greene (pictured at left making a catch against the wall in the third inning) singled to left for another run and a wild pitch accounted for the fourth run. In the sixth, Connor Gurnik singled for an RBI and Bradlee Beesley and Tate Samuelson drew bases-loaded walks.
Trailing 12-1, UC Riverside scored the final two runs of the game in the seventh on Dean Miller's sacrifice fly and Taylor's second run-scoring single.
Watkins struck out a career-high eight over four innings, allowing one run and two hits. He retired the final seven batters he faced after allowing the Highlanders to load the bases in each of the first two innings. Dollard (4-0) earned the win, giving up two unearned runs and three hits over three frames with three strikeouts. Jameson also notched three strikeouts in two scoreless innings.
The loss went to UC Riverside starter Shamus Lyons (3-6) as he allowed five runs (one earned) and six hits in four innings with one walk and four strikeouts. Five relievers followed Lyons to the mound.
In addition to multi-hit games for Gurnik and Cabrera, Greene and DiCarlo both singled twice and drove in a run. Though he also knocked in a run, Sands' 23-game hitting streak, longest active streak in Division I, came to an end Friday as he went 0-for-5.
UC Riverside's five hits included Taylor's pair of RBI singles.
Second game of the series will be played Saturday afternoon at 1 o'clock with fourth-year junior right-hander Bobby Ay (7-1, 3.77 ERA) on the mound for Cal Poly. UC Riverside will start sophomore right-hander Jeremiah Priddy (0-6, 5.96 ERA).
The series finale Sunday also begins at 1 p.m.
Photos courtesy of Owen Main |