SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Cal Poly built a 5-1 lead in the first four innings and held on to beat Sacramento State 6-5 in an elimination game of the 2014 NCAA Division I San Luis Obispo Regional on Sunday before 2,473 in Baggett Stadium.
Coach Larry Lee's Mustangs (47-11) advance to Sunday night's championship final against unbeaten Pepperdine (41-16) at 6 o'clock. Should Cal Poly win, the extra game to determine the champion of the double-elimination tournament will be played Monday night at 6.
Sacramento State ends its season at 40-24.
Cal Poly scored single runs in each of the first three innings and first baseman John Schuknecht's two-run double down the right-field line in the fourth gave the Mustangs a 5-1 advantage.
Sacramento State rallied with two runs in both the fifth and eighth frames and second baseman Brandon Hunley singled with two outs in the ninth before junior right-hander Reed Reilly (pictured below) induced left fielder Kyle Moses to pop up to Mustang second baseman Mark Mathias on a 10-pitch at-bat to end the game.
Junior right-hander Bryan Granger (2-0) earned the win in relief of Cal Poly starter Justin Calomeni, pitching 2 2/3 scoreless innings of one-hit ball and striking out two. Reilly went 2 1/3 innings for his 12th save of the year, two shy of his single-season Cal Poly record. He now has 27 career saves, another school record.
"Went the way it was scripted," said Lee. "Calomeni came out and gave us some quality outs. Granger came in, did what he needed to do and then he gave it to Reilly. There has been four one-run ballgames and a two-run game (in this regional), which just shows how competitive this regional is. We're happy just to be playing. This Sunday night game should give us an opportunity."
The loss went to Sacramento State starter Justin Dillon (4-2) as he allowed five runs and four hits in four innings with four walks and one strikeout.
Cal Poly's seven hits included two each by junior right fielder Nick Torres and Schuknecht. Both Schuknecht hits were doubles. Junior left fielder Zack Zehner (pictured above) added a home run leading off the second inning, his second of the year.
Shortstop Scotty Burcham produced two singles and a double for the Hornets and Moses added a single and double.
Cal Poly, a 4-2 winner over Sacramento State in the opening round Friday night, stole five bases in the first four innings Sunday, equaling a season high.
In the Mustang first, second baseman Mark Mathias drew a leadoff walk and came around to score on a balk, steal and a Torres groundout. Zehner led off the second with his home run and Schuknecht opened the third with a double, scoring on an RBI single to left field by Tim Wise.
After Sacramento State closed the gap to 5-3 with two runs in the fifth, Cal Poly added an insurance run in the seventh on an RBI single down the left-field line by Torres.
Designated hitter Chris Lewis singled in a run in the eighth and third baseman Will Soto's sacrifice fly made it 6-5 before Reilly closed it out for Cal Poly.
"That was an unbelievable game," said Sacramento State head coach Reggie Christiansen. "Both teams played hard and I'm really proud of our guys. We got off to a rough start down 5-1, but our guys got back into it. We had a chance to win at the end and I can't be more proud of our guys.
"The goal was to play in the NCAA Tournament and not just gain some experience," Christiansen added. "We came here expecting to win the whole thing. By being in the games that we we're in, that's going to give this group the experience they need to win a regional."
Photos by Ray Ambler