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May 20, 2012

Cal Poly Baseball Scores Eight Late Runs for 9-8 Win Over UCSB

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS | SLOCALSPORTS.COM VIDEO

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Sophomore third baseman Jimmy Allen singled to left-center field to drive in the tying and go-ahead runs in the eighth inning as Cal Poly scored four times in each of its final two at-bats to turn a 7-1 deficit into a 9-8 victory over UC Santa Barbara on Sunday before 1,316 in Baggett Stadium.

With the two-run bases-loaded single, Allen (pictured at right) is now 5-for-7 with the sacks filled this season, driving in 12 runs.

The Senior Day victory enabled Cal Poly to complete the series sweep against the Gauchos, the Mustangs' fifth weekend sweep of the season. Cal Poly, which has won 11 of its last 14 games, improved to 33-20 for the season and 13-8 for third place in the Big West, a game behind Long Beach State (14-7) and a game ahead of UC Irvine (12-9).

Each team has three Big West games remaining next weekend -- Cal Poly at UC Riverside, UC Irvine at UC Davis and Long Beach State hosting first-place Cal State Fullerton (15-6).

UC Santa Barbara, which has lost 10 of its last 13 games, fell to 24-27 and 10-14.

"This puts us in our best possible position to be considered for the postseason, looking at our overall record and our resume through the course of the year," said Mustang head coach Larry Lee. "Our numbers stack up well against the non-automatic qualifiers in our region outside of the Pac-12.

"The sweep makes next weekend's series more meaningful," Lee added. "We're playing our best baseball at the end of the season and finding ways now to win on Sundays (5-7) and Tuesdays (2-5) which we hadn't been able to."

"We'll play to 56 games and see where we finish at the end of the regular season," Lee said.

Cal Poly can still gain a share of the Big West title only by sweeping UC Riverside while Long Beach State wins two of three against Cal State Fullerton at Blair Field. Should that scenario occur, all three teams would finish 16-8. Long Beach State would earn the automatic bid to the NCAA regionals by virtue of 2-1 series advantages over both the Mustangs and Titans.

Trailing 7-1, Cal Poly loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh on a single and two hit batsmen. Sophomore designated hitter Tim Wise singled to right field to push across one run and keep alive his streak of consecutive games reaching base safely, now at 29.

Junior center fielder Mitch Haniger singled through the left side of the infield, scoring the second run of the inning, and Allen's sacrifice fly to center field pulled Cal Poly to within three at 7-4, chasing UC Santa Barbara starter Zak Edgington.

Greg Mahle, also a left-hander, surrendered a sacrifice fly to sophomore left fielder David Armendariz before getting out of the inning.

The Mustangs trailed 7-5 in the bottom of the eighth inning when they loaded the bases on a hit batsman, a walk and an infield single. A sacrifice fly by Wise made it 7-6 and, after Haniger was hit by a pitch to reload the bases, Allen stroked the next pitch from Mahle into left-center field to drive in two and give Cal Poly an 8-7 lead.

Armendariz singled up the middle for another RBI and a 9-7 Mustang advantage. Gaucho pitchers Edgington and Mahle each hit two Mustang batters in the seventh and eighth innings.

UC Santa Barbara rallied for a run in the ninth and had the potential game-tying run at second base with one out, but Mustang reliever Chase Johnson induced pinch-hitter Luke Swenson to hit a fly ball which was caught by Armendariz in foul territory.

Catcher Bryce Tafelski, who hit an RBI double to score the run in the ninth, tagged up from second base on the foul fly ball and was thrown out by Armendariz, Allen applying the tag at third base, for a game-ending double play.

Redshirt freshman right-hander Reed Reilly (5-2), the fourth of five Cal Poly pitchers in the game, tossed four innings for the victory. Reilly allowed two runs and five hits with no walks and one strikeout. Johnson picked up his eighth save.

The loss went to Mahle (2-4) as he surrendered all four runs in the eighth inning.

UC Santa Barbara, which outhit Cal Poly for the second straight day, 17-13, and hit .333 for the series despite being swept by the Mustangs, built its 7-1 lead with single runs in the first, third, fourth, sixth and seventh innings and two more in the fifth.

Tafelski, left fielder Lance Roenicke and right fielder Joey Wallace each had three hits for the Gauchos. Roenicke and Tafelski each produced a pair of doubles. Center fielder Brett Vertigan, first baseman Marc Venning, second baseman Peter Maris and Mahle all added two hits. The Gauchos had six doubles but stranded 10 runners on the basepaths.

Armendariz finished a strong week for Cal Poly with his third three-hit game of the season. In four games this week, Armendariz was 6-for-10 with a home run, three walks, two sacrifice bunts, one sacrifice fly, seven RBI and a .643 on-base percentage.

Miller and Haniger each added two hits for Cal Poly on Sunday. Michaels delivered another pinch-hit single, making him 10-for-17 as a pinch-hitter this season. It was the freshman left-handed hitter's first hit against a southpaw this season and Michaels is now hitting .407 on the year.

Cal Poly earned its first win in 18 games when it trailed going into the eighth inning.

Midway through the game, Mustang head coach Larry Lee was presented a plaque by Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong for earning his 300th career win two weeks ago at UC Davis, a 12-7 victory. Lee, now 306-252-2 in 10 seasons with the Mustangs, is the winningest Cal Poly baseball coach, surpassing Berdy Harr (297-249-6 in 11 years) during the Pacific series April 27-29.

Mustang seniors Miller, southpaw Kyle Anderson and catcher Jordan Hadlock were honored in a ceremony prior to their final home game.

For the series, Armendariz was 5-for-9 with a home run and six RBI while Allen, Wise and Miller each produced four hits -- Allen with five RBI, Wise four and Miller two. Haniger had three hits, including a three-run home run in Saturday's 15-5 win, and four total RBI in the series.

The Mustangs have won eight of 13 weekend series and were 2-2 in the Aztec Invitational. Cal Poly is 13 games above the .500 mark for the first time since the 2009 season, has clinched its 10th winning season since 2000 and has surpassed the 30-win mark for the eighth time in the last 13 years.

Cal Poly, which finished its home schedule with a 22-7 record, wraps up the 2012 regular season next weekend with games Friday through Sunday at UC Riverside, starting at 6, 6 and 1 p.m.