SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Sophomore southpaw Matt Imhof matched his career high with 11 strikeouts and combined with sophomore right-hander Reed Reilly on a five-hitter as No. 20 Cal Poly edged Hawai'i 3-2 in a Big West Conference baseball game Saturday night before 1,593 in Baggett Stadium.
Imhof (4-1) allowed just one walk and scattered five hits over 7 1/3 innings, striking out five in a row in the second and third frames. Both runs he gave up were unearned as he dropped his ERA to 1.51 and threw 105 pitches. The lone walk was to San Luis Obispo High School and Cuesta College product Max Duval with one out in the eighth inning.
Reilly earned his ninth save by pitching 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Imhof (pictured at right), striking out two.
With the win, Cal Poly clinched the three-game series – the Mustangs won 8-3 Friday night – and has won seven of nine weekend series this season. The Mustangs have won four straight games and are 24-8 overall and 6-2 for second place in the Big West.
Hawai'i suffered its seventh straight loss, falling to 7-24 on the year and 2-6 in conference games.
The 1-hour, 57-minute game was the quickest in the 13-year history of Baggett Stadium, bettering by one minute Cal Poly's 4-2 win over UC Davis on May 14, 2011.
Cal Poly jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back, adding a single run in the sixth for a 3-0 advantage. Hawai'i made it a one-run game with two unearned runs in the eighth before Reilly came in and shut the door on the Rainbows.
In the Mustang first, hits by senior second baseman Denver Chavez and freshman designated hitter Brian Mundell preceeded a sacrifice fly by sophomore right fielder Nick Torres and a Hawai'i throwing error.
Another sacrifice fly by Torres in the sixth, one pitch after junior third baseman Jimmy Allen had tripled, gave Cal Poly its 3-0 cushion.
That turned out to be the game-winning run as Hawai'i tallied twice in the eighth without benefit of a hit. Imhof issued a walk and hit a batter with one out before Hawai'i second baseman Andre Real hit a long fly ball to left field that was dropped for an error, allowing one run to score. Reilly came in and gave up a first-pitch sacrifice fly to third baseman Pi'ikea Kitamura, making it 3-2.
A pop-up to shortstop ended the threat and Reilly struck out two batters in the ninth for the save.
Cal Poly, now 9-3 in one-run games this season, mustered just four hits Saturday –- a triple by Allen and singles by Chavez, Mundell and freshman shortstop Peter Van Gansen. The four hits were the second-lowest total by the Mustangs this season. Lowest was three in a 2-1 win over Seattle on Feb. 22.
Hawai'i's five hits included two singles by shortstop Austin Wobrock and a double by center fielder Kaeo Aliviado.
Rainbow junior right-hander Matt Cooper (2-4) suffered the loss, allowing three runs and four hits in eight innings with one walk and seven strikeouts. Cooper was Big West Pitcher of the Week on March 25 after he scattered eight hits over 7 2/3 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts in a 7-0 win over Wichita State.
Final game of the series will be played Sunday at 1 o'clock in Baggett Stadium with sophomore right-hander Bryan Granger (5-2, 3.80 ERA) to start on the mound for Cal Poly, facing Hawai'i senior right-hander Corey MacDonald (3-3, 3.38 ERA).