Tate Samuelson smashed a two-run home run to even things and Darren Nelson earned his first win of the season as Cal Poly overcame an early 2-0 deficit and then held on to defeat Columbia 5-4 on Sunday inside Baggett Stadium.
The triumph completed a four-game series sweep for Coach Larry Lee’s Mustangs and improved their record to 6-9 after a 2-9 start to the season. Columbia, from the Ivy League, fell to 0-8.
Cal Poly won the series finale despite committing four errors. All four Columbia runs were unearned. Two of the miscues came in the ninth inning when the Lions rallied for two runs and had the bases loaded with two outs before Michael Clark induced Liam McGill, who homered earlier in the game, to fly out to right field, ending the game.
“Anytime you are able to win for games against an opponent, you’re taking a step in the right direction,” said 17th-year Mustang head coach Larry Lee. “There, however, are many things defensively we need to clean up.
“We had four quality outings from our starting pitchers and, for the most part, our relievers did very well,” Lee added. “We won two one-run games, one in extra innings, and that is experience that should help us as the season progresses.”
McGill’s blast in the first inning bounced off the top of the left-field wall and over, giving Columbia an early 2-0 lead. Samuelson’s homer in the fourth inning, also to left field, was Cal Poly’s first in 15 games this season and tied the game at 2-2.
The Mustangs added single runs in the fifth, sixth and eighth to build a 5-2 advantage.
Samuelson grounded out to second base to drive in a run and break the tie. Connor Gurnik singled to left-center field to make it 4-2 and Cole Cabrera doubled leading off the eighth, eventually scoring on a wild pitch.
Columbia parlayed two singles, a pair of Mustang errors and a walk into two runs in the ninth before Clark secured the final out for his first save of the year.
Nelson (1-2) tossed six innings, giving up two unearned runs and five hits with three walks and one strikeout. The sophomore right-hander lowered his ERA to 0.78. Matt Arens pitched two-plus innings, allowing one unearned run and a hit, and Clark recorded the final three outs, also giving up an unearned run and a hit.
The loss went to Jordan Chriss (0-2), the second of three pitchers used by Columbia on Sunday.
Cal Poly produced double-digit hits for the second straight game, following Saturday’s 13-run, 17-hit offensive barrage with 10 more hits Sunday. Gurnik and second baseman Willie Cano both singled twice.
Columbia’s seven hits were by the top seven batters in the lineup.
Cal Poly, which swept a four-game series for the first time since winning all four games against Pacific opening the 2016 season, hit .284 versus Columbia, led by Cano (5-for-10, one triple, three RBI), Samuelson (5-for-12, one home run, four RBI) and Elijah Greene (6-for-16, one double, two RBI).
“We did just enough from an offensive standpoint,” said Lee. “Early in the series, their starters were very good.”
The Mustangs compiled a 1.38 staff ERA and the opposition hit just .182. Cal Poly committed nine errors in four games and seven of Columbia’s 13 runes were unearned.
“The majority of our errors were made on routine plays,” Lee said. “That has been the case from day one and, when you don’t take care of the ball, you add pitches to whoever is on the mound, you have to go to the bullpen earlier and it’s not a recipe for success.”
Cal Poly played 39 innings from 6 p.m. Friday to 3 p.m. Sunday, a span of 21 hours. Much of that time also was spent prepping the field and sitting through a 50-minute rain delay in Saturday’s nightcap.
“Our players had to adjust to conditions due to the weather and it was a long three days,” said Lee, “especially on Saturday when the players were at the field from 8 a.m. to 10 at night, taking care of the field, playing the game, taking care of the field again, playing another game, tarping the field multiple times … our players are building some good resumés in the workforce.”
Cal Poly plays four games on the road next week, visiting Pepperdine on Tuesday and nationally ranked Baylor for three games next weekend in Waco, Texas.
-Provided by Cal Poly