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No. 20 Cal Poly Defeats Hawai’i 8-3 in Big West Series Opener

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Senior right-hander Joey Wagman tossed his second complete game of the season and third of his career, scattering eight hits, while senior second baseman Denver Chavez continued his torrid hitting pace as No. 20 Cal Poly opened a Big West Conference baseball series with an 8-3 victory over Hawai'i on Friday night before 1,536 in Baggett Stadium.

Wagman (7-2) allowed three runs, only one of which was earned, did not allow a walk and struck out eight, throwing 123 pitches and dropping his ERA to 2.95.

Chavez, who has collected seven hits in each of Cal Poly's last three weekend series, went 3-for-5 against the Rainbows, scoring twice, to lift his season batting average to .406.

With its third straight win, Cal Poly improved to 23-8 for the season and 5-2 for second place in the Big West. Hawai'i suffered its sixth straight loss, falling to 7-23 and 2-5.

Coach Larry Lee's Mustangs sprinted to a 4-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back. Junior third baseman Jimmy Allen singled to left field to drive in the first run and sophomore right fielder Nick Torres belted a three-run home run, his sixth of the year, over the left-field wall.

After Hawai'i scored twice in the third frame on a two-run single by third baseman Pi'kea Kitamura, Cal Poly restored its four-run cushion with single runs in the third and fourth innings.

Junior left fielder Tim Wise singled to tally the run in the third while sophomore center fielder Jordan Ellis lined out to right field for a sacrifice fly and a 6-2 Mustang advantage in the fourth.

A run-scoring triple by right fielder Kalei Hanawahine in the sixth inning closed the gap to 6-3 before Cal Poly pulled away with single runs in the seventh and eighth frames.

Freshman first baseman Mark Mathias singled to center field to push across the run in the seventh while Allen's second RBI single of the game plated the final run of the game in the eighth.

Wagman (pictured above) pitched his other complete game of the year against Notre Dame on March 14, a 6-3 triumph with a seven-hitter and a career-high 12 strikeouts. His first complete game as a Mustang was against UC Santa Barbara late last season.

The loss went to Hawai'i starter Connor Little (1-5), who allowed six runs (four earned) and seven hits in six innings with one walk and five strikeouts.

The two teams, among the top five in the Big West in fielding percentage, combined for five errors Friday night -- three by the Mustangs.

Chavez paced Cal Poly's 11-hit offensive attack with his three singles. Allen, Wise and Mathias each contributed a pair of hits, Torres hit his second three-run homer of the year and junior catcher Chris Hoo added a double.

Hawaii's eight hits included a single and double by center fielder Kaeo Aliviado and two singles by shortstop Austin Wobrock.

Chavez committed his first error of the season in 140 chances, dropping a throw from freshman shortstop Peter Van Gansen at second base on a potential double-play ball in the eighth inning.

Second game of the series will be played Saturday night at 6 in Baggett Stadium with sophomore southpaw Matt Imhof (3-1, 1.72 ERA) on the mound for Cal Poly against Hawai'i junior right-hander Matt Cooper (2-3, 2.58 ERA).

The series finale Sunday will start at 1 o'clock.

Photos by Ray Ambler