This time, Bryan Granger came through. It was the Cal Poly bullpen that let the Mustangs down.
After a string of subpar starts for the Cal Poly baseball team, Granger pitched five hitless innings to start Sunday’s series finale at Long Beach State, but the Mustangs’ normally reliable relievers blew a three-run lead, and the 49ers took charge for good with a grand slam off Cal Poly closer Reed Reilly in Sunday’s 9-5 victory.
Long Beach State won the series 2-1, and the Mustangs (28-13, 8-7 Big West Conference) fell into a fifth-place tie with UC Santa Barbara after their second straight conference series defeat.
Juan Avila was just 1 for 5 for the 49ers (20-21, 9-6 Big West), but his lone hit was a seventh-inning slam, also his first home run of the season, and gave Long Beach State an 8-5 lead.
Former Nipomo High standout Jeff McNeil tied Cal Poly’s Denver Chavez for the game-high with three hits leading off for the 49ers. McNeil was 3 for 5 with two runs and an RBI.
The Mustangs spotted Granger a 3-0 lead, and he did not allow a hit until the sixth, when Long Beach State led off with a walk and a single.
Cal Poly reliever Michael Holback came on to allow a two-run double to designated hitter Ino Patron and a two-run triple to Zack Rivera.
Two of the runs were charged to Granger, who allowed one hit and three walks while striking out two.
When Holback gave up a single in the seventh, Reilly came on to allow a hit and a walk to load the bases. Reilly, second in the Big West with 10 saves, fell to 3-2 on the season.
Jordan Ellis and Nick Torres were each 2 for 4 for the Mustangs. Torres singled in the tying run in the top of the seventh, and catcher Elliot Stewart’s grounder up the middle resulted in two Long Beach State errors that helped give Cal Poly a 5-4 lead.
Chavez was 3 for 5 with three singles, two runs and two RBI.
The Mustangs travel to Pepperdine on Wednesday before returning home for a three-game conference series against UC Riverside.