SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Sophomore right-hander Casey Bloomquist pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings for his seventh win and senior third baseman Jimmy Allen's fourth-inning triple drove in the only run of the game as No. 5 Cal Poly defeated No. 13 UC Santa Barbara 1-0 in the finale of a three-game Big West Conference baseball series Sunday afternoon.
The victory gave Coach Larry Lee's Mustangs their eighth series win of the season -– Cal Poly also split a rain-shortened two-game set against USC -– and improved their marks to 26-5 overall and 5-1 in the Big West.
UC Santa Barbara fell to 20-7 and 2-4.
The game drew 2,489 sun-splashed fans, the largest crowd of the season and No. 4 all time for a single game in Baggett Stadium's 14-year history. The series total of 6,749 is second on the list, behind only the 8,585 who saw Cal Poly play Cal State Fullerton in 2005.
"This is the second time we lost Friday and were able to have the resilience to win Saturday and Sunday," said Lee. Cal Poly fell 5-2 to defending national champion UCLA in another series opener in February and bounced back to take the three-game set at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
Bloomquist (7-0) scattered five hits over 7 2/3 innings with no walks and 10 strikeouts, matching the career high he set against Wagner three weeks ago. The Gauchos left two runners on base in the first and fourth innings and stranded three other runners in scoring position.
Junior southpaw Taylor Chris earned his fourth save by securing the final four outs.
"To win a 1-0 game against one of the best teams in the country in the afternoon at an offensive ballpark like Baggett speaks volumes for how well Bloomquist pitched today," Lee said. "UCSB presents a lot of problems offensively and they have some legitimate guys in the lineup.
"This gets Santa Barbara out of the way and they will win a number of games from here on out," Lee added. "This series win keeps us in the right direction."
Cal Poly is 19-2 at home this season and has won 89 of its last 114 games (77 percent) in Baggett Stadium. The Mustangs have won eight of their last nine games and 16 of 18, all at home.
"We have felt very comfortable at home the last three seasons," said Lee. "The environment, great fan support, good surface, offensive ballpark … we knew if we could survive being on the road so much early on, it would give us a good chance to get comfortable at home. It was beneficial for us and we definitely took advantage of it."
After opening the season by sweeping 2013 NCAA super regional finalist Kansas State at home, Cal Poly played 10 of its next 11 games on the road and won eight of them.
Bloomquist (pictured above) has won each of his seven starts this season and lowered his ERA for the season to 1.25. Opponents are hitting just .223 against him and he served up 12 grounders and no fly ball outs.
"He was able to spot his fastball away, had a plus slider going and a good changeup," said Lee. "He threw all three pitches to left- and right-handed batters and was able to attack very well."
Cal Poly scored the lone run of the game in the fourth inning as sophomore designated hitter Brian Mundell legged out an infield hit to third base with two outs and Allen tripled into the right-field corner, scoring Mundell.
The Mustangs left a runner at second base in the first inning, left the bases loaded in the sixth and stranded runners at first and second in the eighth.
Both teams collected five hits. Only extra-base hits were Allen's triple and a double by UCSB right fielder Cameron Newell. Gaucho designated hitter Robby Nesovic singled twice.
The team collecting fewer hits won the first two games of the series. Cal Poly outhit UCSB 12-10 in an 8-6 loss Friday night and the Mustangs were outhit 16-11 in Saturday's 8-7 walk-off victory. The two teams combined for 29 runs and 49 hits in the first two games, both of which lasted over 3 hours and 40 minutes.
The loss went to Gaucho freshman right-hander Shane Bieber (1-1), who allowed one run and five hits in 5 2/3 innings with one walk and six strikeouts.
UCSB was 7-0 in one-run games prior to the back-to-back losses Saturday and Sunday. The Gauchos were shut out for the first time Sunday as Cal Poly earned its seventh shutout of the season. UCSB has lost two in a row for the first time this season. The Mustangs have yet to lose two straight games in 2014.
The win was Cal Poly's 100th against UC Santa Barbara since the series began in 1942. The Gauchos still hold a 117-100 advantage in the series.
Cal Poly's leaders for the weekend series were sophomore second baseman Mark Mathias (pictured at left) (6-for-12, three runs scored), senior catcher Chris Hoo (4-for-11, five RBI) and Mundell (5-for-10).
Cal Poly closes out its 18-game home stand Tuesday afternoon, hosting Saint Mary's for a 3 p.m. non-conference contest. The Gaels are 13-17 after falling to Pepperdine 8-1 at home Sunday.
The Mustangs return to Big West play next weekend at Hawai'i.
Photos by Ray Ambler | RA Photos