SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Bobby Ay pitched seven scoreless innings, Tate Samuelson belted his fifth home run of the season and Cole Cabrera robbed UC Santa Barbara of a pair of home runs as Cal Poly remained alive in the chase for a share of the Big West Conference baseball title with a 3-0 victory Thursday afternoon inside Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
Ay (9-1) (pictured above), who had a no-hitter through 5 2/3 innings, struck out eight, walked three and allowed just two singles for his ninth victory of the year, throwing 107 pitches. Sophomore Taylor Dollard secured the final six outs, retiring all six batters he faced, four via strikeout, for his fourth save.
With the win, Cal Poly evened its overall mark at 27-27 and improved to 16-6 in Big West games, pulling to within two games of fourth-ranked UC Santa Barbara (44-8, 18-4), which was shut out for the first time this season.
The victory was the 1,000th for Cal Poly head coach Larry Lee. With a 460-241-3 mark in 16 seasons at Cuesta College and 540-418-2 in 17 years at Cal Poly, Lee is 1,000-659-5 in 33 years as a head coach.
Samuelson's two-run first-inning shot over the scoreboard in left field gave Cal Poly a quick 2-0 lead and Nick DiCarlo's safety squeeze bunt up the first-base line for a single scored Samuelson from third base in the fourth frame and made it a 3-0 contest.
Samuelson, who led the team in home runs and RBIs as a freshman a year ago, leads the club again in 2019 with five home runs and 39 RBI.
Cabrera leaped above the wall in left field to take a home run away from Tevin Mitchell in the third inning and duplicated the feat in the ninth to thwart what would have been Thomas Rowan's 13th homer of the year.
The loss went to Gaucho sophomore southpaw Jack Dashwood (9-2), who gave up all three runs (two earned) and five hits over 7 2/3 innings with one walk and five strikeouts. Conner Dand tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings of one-hit baseball.
The loss snapped UC Santa Barbara's second 13-game winning streak of the season – the Gauchos also won 12 straight during the first four weeks of the campaign – and the Gauchos lost at home for only the second time in 28 games. Their 19-game home winning streak was halted as well.
Cal Poly has beaten UC Santa Barbara 10 straight times, including sweeps in 2016, 2017 and 2018, and Lee is 41-23 versus the Gauchos. UCSB entered the game with the best winning percentage in Division I (44-7, .863).
DiCarlo and Sands each had two of Cal Poly's six hits. Sands, who had a 23-game hitting streak snapped last Friday by UC Riverside, has hit safely in 26 of his last 27 contests.
UC Santa Barbara's two hits were singles by Andrew Martinez and Eric Yang. Both came in the sixth inning, putting Gaucho runners at first and third with two outs, but Ay escaped the threat as he induced Rowan to ground out to third base.
Second game of the series will be played Friday at 3 p.m. with Cal Poly sophomore southpaw Andrew Alvarez (1-3, 5.26 ERA) to face UC Santa Barbara junior lefty Ben Brecht (10-1, 3.74 ERA).
The series finale is set for Saturday at 1 o'clock.