Two days after getting swept by Long Beach State, the Cal Poly baseball team returned to Baggett Stadium and got back on track during its final midweek home game of the season.
The Mustangs ended a four-game losing streak by defeating Santa Clara, 6-2, in a nonconference matchup Tuesday night. An offense that seemed anemic against the Dirtbags over the weekend showed signs of life once again.
Cal Poly (26-17, 7-5 Big West) tallied 12 hits to back up a strong outing from freshman right-hander Bobby Ay, who made the second start of his career and earned his first collegiate victory on the Mustangs’ home field.
“Run are tough to come by for us,” head coach Larry Lee said. “But it’s allowing other players to get some opportunities and they’re trying to make the most of them.”
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
How it happened
Cal Poly broke out of a difficult offensive stretch with a three-run third inning.
The Mustangs had scored only one run in their last 28 innings when junior third baseman Michael Sanderson stepped to the plate against Santa Clara’s Travis Howard.
Sanderson hit a two-run double through the gap in left center and came around to score on Kevin Morgan’s RBI single during the ensuing at-bat. Those two hits staked Cal Poly to a 3-1 lead.
Freshman designated hitter Dylan Doherty gave the Mustangs some extra cushion with a two-run double in the seventh to go ahead 5-2.
Kyle Marinconz (2 for 4), John Schucknecht (2 for 4), Sanderson (2 for 5) and Brett Binning (2 for 4) all tallied multiple hits in the victory.
The Mustangs continue to cope without standout outfielders Alex McKenna and Josh George, who hit 1-2 in the Cal Poly lineup for the better part of two months.
McKenna, a freshman center fielder who started the first 34 games of the season and leads the team with five home runs, missed his ninth consecutive contest Tuesday night.
George replaced McKenna in center field against UC Santa Barbara and injured his left shoulder in the series finale. The sophomore’s .294 batting average remains the third-highest on the team despite missing five straight games.
Lee said both players could potentially return for the UC Irvine series in two weeks, though he didn’t sound overly optimistic. McKenna will likely take a month off when the season ends before he pursues any summer baseball opportunities, Lee said, and George’s shoulder injury will require surgery in the offseason.
“With them we’re probably two offensive players short,” Lee said. “Without them, we’re four offensive players short and you start pushing players in places in the order that they really shouldn’t be.”
Cal Poly will be back on the road this weekend to take on CSUN in a three-game series beginning at 3 p.m. Friday. The Matadors are 25-16 overall but have struggled since the start of conference play, and they bring a 4-11 Big West record into the weekend series.