UC Riverside exploded for five runs in the fourth inning to erase a 2-1 deficit and Abbott Haffar and Hayden Petrovick made them stand up for a 6-5 victory over Cal Poly in the finale of a Big West Conference baseball series Sunday afternoon inside Baggett Stadium.
Haffar (4-2) pitched 6 1/3 innings for the win and Petrovick secured the final eight outs for his first save as the Highlanders salvaged one win in the three-game series. Cal Poly clinched the series with 12-3 and 7-4 victories Friday and Saturday, respectively.
Despite the loss in the game delayed at the start 2 hours and 44 minutes by rain, Cal Poly (26-27 overall) still controls its own destiny in the chase for the Big West title.
The Mustangs and UC Irvine are both 15-6 in Big West contests, three games behind UC Santa Barbara (18-3). UC Irvine completed its sweep of UC Davis with a 10-4 victory Sunday while UC Santa Barbara rallied from a 3-1 deficit for a 6-3 win over Hawai’i.
A Cal Poly sweep at UC Santa Barbara next Thursday through Saturday gives the Mustangs a share of their second Big West championship and the automatic berth in the NCAA regionals. Anything else, and the Gauchos claim the title and the playoff spot. UC Irvine, mathematically eliminated from the automatic qualifying spot, is at UC Riverside next weekend.
Dean Miller’s 400-foot sacrifice fly to center field gave UC Riverside (18-34) a run in the top of the first, answered by Tate Samuelson’s sacrifice fly to right for a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the first.
The Mustangs grabbed a 2-1 lead in the third as Bradlee Beesley and Elijah Greene both singled and Samuelson grounded into a double play, scoring Beesley from third.
The Highlanders quickly regained the lead with their five-run fourth-inning uprising. Catcher Jacob Shanks belted a two-run home run, his second of the year, for a 3-2 advantage and UC Riverside added three more runs on an infield single by Miller and a two-run single by Yeager Taylor.
Cal Poly waited until the seventh to mount its comeback, scoring three unearned runs tanks to a pair of Highlander errors. Nick DiCarlo singled and scored on an error, Connor Gurnik scored on a wild pitch and Bradlee Beesley singled to center field to make it a one-run game.
Petrovick relieved Haffar and notched a pair of strikeouts to end the rally.
DiCarlo doubled with two outs in the eighth but was stranded and the Mustangs went 1-2-3 in the ninth.
Haffar allowed five runs (two earned) and six hits over 6 1/3 innings for the win, striking out three without a walk, and Petrovick struck out three in 2 2.3 scoreless frames for the save.
The loss went to Mustang starter Andrew Alvarez (1-3) as the sophomore right-hander gave up five runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings with four walks and three strikeouts.
In their final appearances on the Baggett Stadium mound, Michael Clark allowed a run in two frames and Jarred Zill tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
Clark, Zill and fourth-year junior Dylan Doherty, who did not play due to a hamstring pull suffered six weeks ago, were honored in a pregame ceremony on Senior Day.
Beesley prodiced his second three-hit game of the series and fourth of the season — he also has a trio of four-hit contests — and DiCarlo added two hits for Cal Poly.
Beesley was 6-for-13 in the series with three RBI while DiCarlo was 5-for-13 with a double and two RBI. Samuelson was 4-for-13 with a home run and five RBI and leads the Mustangs with four homers and 37 RBI this season.
UC Riverside’s 11-hit offensive attack included two hits each by Shanks, Travis Bohall, Connor Cannon and Brenden Avventino.
Games at UC Santa Barbara’s Caesar Uyesaka Stadium are scheduled for 3 p.m. both Thursday and Friday and 1 o’clock Saturday.
–Provided by Cal Poly