Junior pitcher Jarred Zill had his best outing since returning from elbow surgery earlier this month, but Cal Poly baseball opened Big West conference play Thursday with a road loss to Cal State Northridge, 5-3.
Zill, who started three weekend games before he was sidelined with elbow injury requiring Tommy John surgery in March 2017, made his third start of the 2018 season and went five innings, striking out seven batters and giving up four hits and no runs. Zill is still on a pitch count following his return to the mound March 16 and last pitched four innings in each of his previous two starts and had three strikeouts.
CSUN took a 2-1 lead when junior Michael Clark took over for Zill in the top of the sixth inning and gave up four hits and two runs. Clark was pulled with the bases loaded after getting one out, and CSUN tacked on two more runs in the inning to make it 4-1.
Cal Poly junior Alex McKenna, who went 3-for-4 in the game, scored in the top of the first inning on a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded to give the Mustangs a 1-0 lead. McKenna scored again on a double from sophomore Bradlee Beesley (3-for-5 on the day) in the top of the seventh inning to shrink the CSUN lead to 4-2. But Beesley's error on a routine single to right field in the bottom of the inning led to the fifth and final run for CSUN.
The error was the 38th for Cal Poly in 24 games.
Cal Poly finished the game with 12 hits.
Cal Poly (11-13, 0-1 Big West) will continue its three-game series against CSUN at 3 p.m. Friday.