Player of the game: Ace right-hander Casey Bloomquist won his seventh straight decision since starting the year with back-to-back losses. He tied a career-high 10 strikeouts in what could be his final start at Baggett Stadium as the Cal Poly baseball team won 6-2 over last-place UC Riverside on Friday. A draft-eligible All-American, Bloomquist (7-2, 2.80 ERA) went 8 2-3 innings, allowing 10 hits and two earned runs with no walks and a hit batter.
What it means: Cal Poly (24-25, 11-8) remains mathematically in the hunt for a Big West championship — the only way the Mustangs can reach a third straight NCAA regional. UC Santa Barbara defeated UC Irvine 10-5 to pull both teams to 13-6. Cal State Fullerton (13-5) played a late game at Hawaii. The loss marked the 10th straight defeat for Riverside (13-36, 2-17) under first-year head coach and former Anaheim Angels pitcher Troy Percival.
Key stat: Fellow All-American Mark Mathias extended his hitting streak to a career-high 19 games with an infield single to second base following Tommy Pluschkell’s two-run home run in the second inning. The junior second baseman and reigning Big West Field Player of the Year is third in the conference in batting average at .362 behind UC Santa Barbara’s Cameron Newell (.384) and UC Davis’ Nick Lynch (.376). It’s the longest hit streak since Ryan Lee and Matt Jensen had stretches of 26 and 23, respectively, in 2009. X-factor: The Highlanders’ yearlong defensive woes continued. Entering the weekend with 28 more errors than any other Big West team, Riverside committed four Friday to up its yearly total to 96. A throwing error by catcher Ryan Lillie, one of five freshmen in the starting lineup, allowed Brett Barbier to steal second and advance to third in the second inning. John Schuknecht’s single off the shortstop’s glove one batter later scored Barbier for the first run of the game.
Turning point: Riverside starter Antonio Gonzales single-handedly sent Van Gansen around the bases to make it 4-1 in the fifth. The senior lefty hit the shortstop to lead off the inning, threw away a pick-off attempt that sent Van Gansen to third and then added the wild pitch in the same at-bat.
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Up next: Freshman left-hander Kyle Smith (5-6, 3.93 ERA) toes the rubber for Cal Poly in the second game of the series, set for today at 1 p.m. Riverside is expected to counter with senior righty Joie Dunyon (1-3, 4.67).