The Cal Poly baseball team lost its fourth straight game and third straight Big West Conference game Friday, falling 7-3 to UC Riverside on the road at the Riverside Sports Complex.
The Mustangs struck first in the second inning, when Zack Zehner scored on a sacrifice bunt from Peter Van Gansen.
But the Highlanders (20-21, 8-5 Big West) scored the next five runs in the second and third innings off starter Matt Imhof.
It was Imhof’s shortest outing in his Mustangs career as he gave up five runs on seven hits and two walks in three innings. The left-handed ace struck out just two.
Zehner scored again in the sixth on a single from Van Gansen, and Mark Mathias scored as Zehner reached on an error to close the gap to 6-3.
Jimmy Allen represented the tying run in the seventh with Brian Mundell and Zehner on base, but grounded out to end the threat for the No. 4 Mustangs (39-9, 12-4).
Mathias returned to the lineup after missing Tuesday’s loss at Pepperdine because of a bruised heel and finished 2 for 5 with a walk. Cal Poly’s leadoff batter leads the team with a .394 average.
The Mustangs, who didn’t lose back-to-back games in the first 10 weeks, are three games behind UC Irvine (30-14, 12-1) and second in the Big West.