Third baseman Nick DiCarlo produced his first three-hit game of the season, first baseman Tate Samuelson earned his second three-hit contest and designated hitter Conagher Sands knocked in three runs as Cal Poly evened its three-game series against USC at a game apiece with a 9-6 victory Saturday afternoon.
Before 1,655 fans inside Baggett Stadium, Cal Poly moved back above the .500 mark at 20-19 while USC fell to 18-22-1. The Trojans won the series opener Friday night, 4-1.
Cal Poly overcame an early 2-0 deficit with four runs in the third inning and added two more in both the fourth and fifth frames. The Trojans closed the gap to two runs with a three-run sixth-inning rally but the Mustangs scored an insurance run in the eighth and Taylor Dollard closed the door on USC in the ninth for his second save.
Mustang starter Bobby Ay (6-0) earned his sixth win in his last eight starts, allowing six runs and eight hits over 5 1/3 innings with three walks and four strikeouts.
Dollard secured the final 11 outs, tossing 3 2/3 scoreless innings with one hit, two walks and a pair of strikeouts.
After USC grabbed a 2-0 lead with Jamal O’Guinn’s RBI groundout in the first inning and Brandon Perez’s solo home run leading off the third, Cal Poly answered with a four-run, five-hit third-inning uprising to take the lead for good.
Samuelson’s single through the left side of the USC infield tallied the first Mustang run, Sands doubled down the left-field line for two more runs and DiCarlo capped the rally with an RBI double down the right-field line.
An RBI single by Samuelson and a wild pitch accounted for the two runs in the fourth and, in the fifth, Blake Wagenseller’s RBI double and a run-scoring single by Jack Kuzma gave Cal Poly an 8-3 advantage.
USC closed the gap to 8-6 with three in the sixth on a bases-loaded walk and a two-run single by catcher CJ Stubbs.
Final run of the game was scored by Cal Poly in the eighth on a single to right field by Sands, who drove in one run in his first seven weeks of the season and has knocked in 12 in Cal Poly’s last nine contests.
Wagenseller, Sands, shortstop Connor Gurnik and right fielder Elijah Greene each collected two hits as Cal Poly produced 15 hits on the day, second-highest total for the season. The Mustangs came close to scoring in double digits for just the second time this year, but hit into a double play with the bases loaded in the eighth frame.
The bottom trio of USC batters in the lineup — Brady Shockey, Brandon Perez and Tyler Pritchard — each produced two hits.
The loss went to USC sophomore southpaw Isaac Esqueda (3-3) as he gave up six runs and seven hits over 3 1/3 innings with three walks and a trio of strikeouts. Kyle Hurt tossed the final 4 2/3 innings for the Trojans, allowing three runs and eight hits.
Rubber game of the series will be played Sunday at 1 o’clock. Cal Poly will send Andrew Alvarez (1-1, 4.63 ERA) to the mound against USC’s John Beller (1-2, 4.54 ERA) in a matchup of sophomore lefties.
–Provided by Cal Poly