After a couple of weeks of bitter disappointment, the Cal Poly baseball team was in search of some happy thoughts.
Courtesy of their latest in a 13-year string of series victories over Pacific, the Mustangs are getting them this weekend.
Mike Miller was 5 for 5. Miller, Chris Hoo and Mitch Haniger all homered. Haniger and Jimmy Allen had four RBI apiece, and Cal Poly rang up season highs in runs and hits in a 15-4 victory over the Tigers (11-30, 1-10 Big West Conference) on Saturday at Baggett Stadium.
This coming after the Mustangs (24-17, 8-6 Big West) chased a three-game sweep over UC Irvine with back-to-back Big West series losses to Cal State Northridge and Cal State Fullerton and separate blown mid-week losses to Fresno State.
“It’s big to get everyone rolling a little bit and get that confidence back,” Miller said. “We had some tough games out there where we weren’t scoring a lot of runs. Any time you can get back on the board with a lot of hits and a lot of runs, it’s important for a team’s confidence, and hopefully, you can keep that momentum going into following weeks. Everyone’s feeling good about themselves.”
Miller scored two runs and drove in two more at the top of the order. The senior shortstop had three singles and nearly hit a second home run before it bounced off the top of the wall in left field and back into play for a double.
Of the 18 Cal Poly hits, six players had more than one. Haniger was 2 for 4 with a stolen base and upped his conference-leading season totals to nine home runs and 45 RBI.
Allen was 3 for 5 with a three-run double in a four-run fourth inning that broke open a 4-1 score.
Evan Busby was 3 for 4 with three runs and two RBI, and Hoo hit his first home run of the season and finished 2 for 2 with four runs.
After Allen had an RBI single to break a scoreless tie in the bottom of the second, Hoo hammered his first home run of the season over the left-field wall. Two batters later, Miller jumped on a first-pitch fastball from Pacific starter Kyle Crawford for his second of the year.
Crawford had not allowed a home run in 57 innings this season before Hoo connected, and his last homer allowed came in Cal Poly’s 21-0 victory in Stockton last May.
The Mustangs have won 22 of the past 28 games against Pacific, which is currently riding a six-game losing streak. The Tigers have also lost 14 of their past 17.
“Yeah, Pacific probably isn’t the best in the conference right now,” Allen said, “but we need these wins. We’re having good at-bats, laying off pitches that we shouldn’t swing at. ... Offensively, we’re sitting on good pitches and hitting balls hard.”
Cal Poly moved into a third-place tie in the conference standings with UC Santa Barbara with the victory, the team-leading seventh by senior staring pitcher Kyle Anderson.
Anderson pitched the first six innings, allowing three runs on seven hits and a walk and four strikeouts. Freshman Danny Zandona earned the three-inning save, giving up one run on three hits and two walks. He struck out two.
Freshman outfielder Alex Michaels was 2 for 2 with a triple and two RBI coming off the bench, and several other reserves were able to play the field after Cal Poly pushed its lead to 14-3 after the sixth inning and began substituting freely.
Outfielder Matt Russell was 1 for 2 with double and a run off the bench, and Jordan Ellis, Ryan Drobny, Jordan Hadlock and Jordan Brower all got into the game.
The blowout score “allows you to get some of your backup players a chance to get in and especially to play defense,” Mustangs head coach Larry Lee said. “Not just a one-at-bat pinch-hit appearance. Some guys got multiple at-bats. It really helps out for next year, especially trying to get your freshmen some quality time. It will really benefit them.”