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April 18, 2014

No. 3 Cal Poly Clinches Cal State Fullerton Series With Walk-Off 4-3 Victory

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS:
   VAN GANSEN SINGLE TIES GAME IN EIGHTH INNING
   TORRES 13TH-INNING DOUBLE FOR WALK-OFF VICTORY

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Junior right fielder Nick Torres doubled to the gap in left-center field, scoring sophomore second baseman Mark Mathias from first base in the 13th inning, as No. 3 Cal Poly earned a 4-3 walk-off victory over No. 19 Cal State Fullerton before 2,831 Saturday night in Baggett Stadium.

The second walk-off win of the season in their first extra-inning game of the year lifted the Mustangs to 33-5 overall and 10-1 in the Big West Conference, one game ahead of UC Irvine. Cal Poly has won a season-long nine straight games, 15 of 16 and 23 of 25.

Cal State Fullerton has lost four straight, falling to 18-15 for the season and 3-5 in the Big West.

Mathias singled up the middle to open the 13th frame for Cal Poly and, after a foul pop-up on a sacrifice bunt attempt for the first out, Torres sent an 0-1 pitch from J.D. Davis over the head of Cal State Fullerton left fielder Marcus Vidales. Mathias scored without a throw.

Junior right-hander Reed Reilly (2-0) pitched 4 2/3 almost perfect innings in relief for the win. He allowed no runs, no hits, one walk (intentional) and struck out nine, a career high. Reilly (pictured at right) retired 14 of 15 batters, with the intentional walk the lone Titan batter to reach base against him.

In his last four appearances on the mound, Reilly has retired 27 of 29 batters over nine innings with 16 strikeouts. The only two baserunners were courtesy of walks (one intentionally) and Reilly has not allowed a run or a hit, earning one win and two saves.

The loss went to Davis (2-2) as he went 4 1/3 innings on the mound, giving up one run and six hits with one walk and five strikeouts.

Four Cal Poly pitchers combined to strike out 20 Titan batters, a school Division I record, in the third 13-inning game played in Baggett Stadium's 14-year history. The other two were against UC Davis in 2005 and 2013. The 4-hour, 18-minute contest was almost an hour shy of the Baggett Stadium record.

The Mustangs needed a run in the 13th inning to win even though the Titans struck out 10 more times than Cal Poly, committed three errors (Cal Poly played its 18th errorless game of the year) and were held to just five hits (Cal Poly produced a season-high 17 hits).

The Mustangs had runners in scoring position in the eighth, 10th, 11th and 12th innings but couldn't produce the key hit, stranding 15 on the basepaths.

Mathias and sophomore shortstop Peter Van Gansen each had four hits for Cal Poly – Van Gansen sending the game into extra innings with a single up the middle in the eighth frame, knotting the score at 3-3.

Mathias, 3-for-5 in Friday's series-opening 8-0 victory, has hit safely in 10 straight games and 27 of his last 28, raising his batting average to .409. Mathias is 47-for-103 (.456) during his 28-game blitz, hitting in 17 straight games before it was snapped by Bakersfield on April 1.

Torres and senior third baseman Jimmy Allen each had a pair of hits for the Mustangs, who have collected 14, 15, 16 and 17 hits in their last four games. Sophomore designated hitter Brian Mundell saw his 12-game hitting streak come to an end, though he walked twice.

Center fielder Clay Williamson singled, doubled and tripled for Cal State Fullerton, driving in one run.

Cal Poly is now 22-2 at home, 23-2 against right-handed starting pitchers and 28-2 when outhitting opponents. The Mustangs are 28 games above the .500 mark for the first time in their 20-year Division I history.

Cal Poly has beaten Cal State Fullerton 10 times in their last 23 meetings, though the Titans still own a 63-37 advantage in the all-time series that started in 1966. The two teams played their 100th game against each other Friday night. The Mustangs won series against Cal State Fullerton at home in 2007 and 2011.

Cal State Fullerton scored in the first inning as third baseman Matt Chapman hit the first pitch of the game over the left-field wall. Cal Poly answered with two runs in the second on an RBI triple by Van Gansen and a run-scoring single by senior catcher Chris Hoo.

The Titans regained the lead with two runs in the fourth. Second baseman Taylor Bryant's sacrifice fly tied the game at 2-2 and Williamson tripled down the right-field line to break the tie.

With Phil Bickford, the No. 10 pick in last year's Major League Draft, on the mound in the eighth, junior left fielder Zack Zehner and pinch hitter Brett Barbier both singled before Van Gansen fouled off several pitches in a 10-pitch at-bat prior to hitting his single up the middle that tied the game at 3-3.

Cal Poly's other walk-off win was on March 29 when Chris Hoo singled to knock in the winning run against UC Santa Barbara with one out in the ninth inning, an 8-7 Mustang victory.

Junior southpaw Taylor Chris held Cal State Fullerton in check during a three-inning relief stint, allowing no runs and one hit with three walks and five strikeouts.

Both starting pitchers -- Cal Poly freshman Slater Lee (4.0 innings, four hits, three runs, one walk, three strikeouts) and Cal State Fullerton sophomore Thomas Eshelman (7.0 innings, eight hits, two runs, one walk, four strikeouts) -- were teammates at Carlsbad High School in San Diego County.

Final game of the series will be played Saturday at 1 o'clock with Cal Poly sophomore right-hander Casey Bloomquist (8-0, 1.58 ERA) to face Cal State Fullerton junior right-hander Grahamm Wiest (2-3, 1.72 ERA).