LONG BEACH, Calif. – Junior right fielder Nick Torres singled on a 3-0 pitch, driving in two runs in a three-run eighth-inning rally that snapped a 3-3 tie Friday night and lifted No. 1/2/3 Cal Poly to a 6-3 win over Long Beach State in the opener of a three-game Big West Conference baseball series at Blair Field.
The Mustangs loaded the bases on singles by sophomore shortstop Peter Van Gansen and senior catcher Chris Hoo plus a hit batsman on a 3-2 pitch. Junior center fielder Jordan Ellis grounded out to first base, pushing across the go-ahead run, before Torres (pictured at right) got the green light on a 3-0 pitch and gave Cal Poly two insurance runs with his single to left-center field.
Junior right-hander Reed Reilly (3-1), who relieved starter Matt Imhof with one out in the seventh, earned his third victory of the season, allowing two hits in 2 2/3 scoreless innings with one walk and a strikeout. Over his last 11 2/3 innings (five appearances), Reilly has retired 35 of 40 batters and has allowed no runs and two hits with three walks and 17 strikeouts, earning two wins and a pair of saves.
With its nation-leading 12th consecutive win, Cal Poly improves to 36-5 overall and 12-1 in Big West games. Second-place UC Irvine (25-14, 8-1 Big West) had its game at UC Davis rained out Friday and will play a doubleheader Saturday.
Long Beach State fell to 18-21 and 5-5 with its third straight loss.
Van Gansen had two of Cal Poly's six singles. Hoo and sophomore second baseman Mark Mathias both scored twice and Torres knocked in three of the Mustangs' six runs, lifting his team-leading total to 39 for the year.
Mathias had one hit – a third-inning single -- to extend his hitting streak to 13 games. Mathias, now with a .406 batting average, has hit safely in 30 of his last 31 games and sports a .454 average during the run (54 of 119).
Long Beach State jumped on Mustang starter Matt Imhof for a pair of runs in the first inning. A wild pitch allowed the first run to score and third baseman Michael Hill singled to make it 2-0.
Cal Poly bounced back with a run in the third frame and two more in the fifth, but stranded two runners on base in the third, fourth, fifth and seventh innings.
Senior first baseman Tim Wise reached base on an error in the third and scored on a safety squeeze bunt by Hoo. In the fifth, Hoo was hit by a pitch and Mathias drew a walk. Hoo scored on a wild pitch and Mathias came home on a groundout by Torres.
Long Beach State tied the game at 3-3 in the seventh as designated hitter Cameron Pongs doubled and eventually came home on a sacrifice fly by center fielder Colby Brenner.
Pong doubled twice and singled once while first baseman Ino Patron added two singles as Long Beach State outhit Cal Poly 8-6. The Mustangs, however, took advantage of five walks, four hit batsmen and three Dirtbag errors.
Imhof allowed three runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings with a season-high four walks and four strikeouts.
The loss went to Logan Lombana (0-1) as he allowed the three runs in the eighth inning.
Cal Poly has won 18 of its last 19 games and 26 of 28.
Second game of the series will be played Saturday at 2 p.m. with Cal Poly freshman right-hander Justin Calomeni (7-1, 3.40 ERA) to face Long Beach State senior right-hander Josh Frye (3-0, 1.13 ERA).
Frye extended his scoreless innings streak to 25 with a dominant start against UC Santa Barbara last week, throwing a five-hit shutout in a 1-0 Dirtbags win.
Final game of the series will be played Sunday at 1 o'clock.