Brett Barbier hit a bases-clearing, go-ahead double in the bottom of the eighth inning, and the Cal Poly baseball team staved off UC Riverside’s fourth comeback attempt of the day to clinch the series, beating the Highlanders 7-6 on Saturday afternoon at Baggett Stadium.
“I took fastball first pitch, and then he just kind of hung a slider,” said Barbier of his three-run hit, which glanced off the glove of a diving Mark Contreras in left field and rolled to the wall. “I was just looking for a strike up in the zone that I could drive into the outfield. Just tried to put a good swing on it, and the thing just kind of worked out for me.”
Taylor Chris (3-2, 4.82 ERA) got the win in relief of Kyle Smith, who went seven innings with three runs — all earned — seven hits, a walk and five strikeouts.
Chris also allowed three runs — one earned — with five hits in two innings.
Player of the game: Barbier. The redshirt sophomore catcher finished 2 for 4 with those three RBI and two runs. He had a bunt single to get on in the fourth and scored to make it 3-2 Cal Poly, before reaching on an error to lead off the seventh and score on a sacrifice fly to put the Mustangs ahead 4-3.
What it means: Cal Poly (25-25, 12-8 Big West) is .500 for just the second time this season and still mathematically in the hunt for a conference title and automatic postseason berth. UC Riverside (13-38, 2-18) has lost 11 straight.
Key stats: The Mustangs left just two runners on base, getting RBI from the bottom five hitters in the lineup — Barbier, Brian Mundell, Ryan Drobny, John Schuknecht and Tommy Pluschkell. Mark Mathias was 0 for 4, ending his career-long hitting streak at 19 games. Cal Poly was outhit 12-9, marking the second straight day Riverside gathered more hits but failed to win.
X-factor: Mundell, who had hit in the No. 3 spot in all of the other 37 games he’s started this year, was moved down to the sixth in the order because of his struggles in conference play, head coach Larry Lee said. Zack Zehner moved from cleanup to third with Jordan Ellis and Barbier also slotting up. Mundell finished 2 for 4, including an RBI double when his pop fly was misplayed by shortstop Dante Chupek.
It was over when: Chris got Austin Colvin — the seventh batter in the top of the ninth — to swing at the first pitch he saw, grounding out to first base with the tying run on first for the final out.
What’s next: Freshman right-hander Jarred Zill (3-1, 3.41) will start the final home game and senior day for the Mustangs, who look to get above .500 for the first time this season. Senior lefty Kevin Sprague (3-6, 4.87) will start for Riverside. Cal Poly is 2-10 in series finales this year.