Connor Gurnik singled three times for his fifth three-hit game of the season and Cole Cabrera knocked in three runs with a pair of singles as Cal Poly opened its three-game Big West Conference baseball series Friday night with a 12-3 victory over UC Riverside inside Baggett Stadium.
Chase Watkins, Taylor Dollard and Ryan Jameson combined to strike out 14 Highlanders for Cal Poly, which scored in double figures for just he fourth time this season and improved to 25-26 for the year and 14-5 in Big West games. UC Riverside, which committed five errors in the game, fell to 17-33 and 6-13.
Yeager Taylor’s RBI single in the top of the first inning gave UC Riverside a 1-0 lead. It was short-lived as Tate Samuelson smashed his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot to left-center field, in the bottom of the first for a 1-1 tie.
Cabrera’s RBI single down the right-field line gave Cal Poly a 2-1 lead in the second inning and the Mustangs added two more runs in the third for a 4-1 cushion. A groundout by Conagher sands made it 3-1 and Nick DiCarlo singled to center field for a 4-1 advantage.
Continuing to score in each of the first six innings, Cal Poly tallied a run in the fourth inning on a throwing error and broke the game open with four in the fifth and three more in the sixth.
Cabrera singled up the middle for two RBI in the fifth, Elijah Greene singled to left for another run and a wild pitch accounted for the fourth run. In the sixth, Connor Gurnik singled for an RBI and Bradlee Beesley and Tate Samuelson drew bases-loaded walks.
Trailing 12-1, UC Riverside scored the final two run of the game in the seventh on Dean Miller’s sacrifice fly and Taylor’s second run-scoring single.
Watkins struck out a career-high eight over four innings, allowing one run and two hits. Dollard (4-0) earned the win, giving up two unearned runs and three hits over three frames with three strikeouts. Jameson also notched three strikeouts in two scoreless innings.
The loss went to UC Riverside starter Shamus Lyons (3-6) as he allowed five runs (one earned) and six innings in four innings with one walk and four strikeouts. Five relievers followed Lyons to the mound.
In addition to multi-hit games for Gurnik and Cabrera, Greene and DiCarlo both singled twice and drove in a run.
UC Riverside’s five hits included Taylor’s pair of RBI singles.
Second game of the series will be played Saturday afternoon at 1 o’clock with fourth-year junior right-hander Bobby Ay (7-1, 3.77 ERA) on the mound for Cal Poly. UC Riverside’s starter has not been announced.
The series finale Sunday also begins at 1 p.m.
–Provided by Cal Poly