Cal Poly Opens Final Home Series of Year With 6-2 Win Over UC Riverside

Cal Poly Opens Final Home Series of Year With 6-2 Win Over UC Riverside

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Senior third baseman Tommy Pluschkell belted his first career home run and junior right-hander Casey Bloomquist earned his seventh straight victory as Cal Poly defeated UC Riverside 6-2 in the opener of a three-game Big West Conference baseball series Friday night before 1,271 in Baggett Stadium.

In his 286th career at-bat, Pluschkell belted Antonio Gonzales' first pitch over the left-field wall for a two-run shot, giving Cal Poly a 3-0 lead in the second inning. A graduate of Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, Pluschkell also made a diving stop of a grounder off the bat of Dante Chupek and threw out the Highlander shortstop for the final out of the third frame.

Bloomquist established a new season high and matched his career high with 10 strikeouts over 8 2/3 innings, improving to 7-2 on the year after an 0-2 start. Bloomquist had struck out nine against both Grand Canyon and Sacramento State earlier this year and, a year ago, fanned 10 against both Wagner and UC Santa Barbara.

With the win, Cal Poly improved to 24-25 on the year and 11-8 in Big West games. UC Riverside, which committed four errors, suffered its 10th straight loss, falling to 13-37 and 2-17.

Bloomquist went 8, 8 2/3 and 8 1/3 innings in his previous three starts and won all three. On Friday, he did not allow a walk and scattered 10 hits, surrendering single runs in the fourth and ninth innings.

Danny Zandona, another senior right-hander, secured the final out for his seventh save.

Cal Poly was held to just five hits by Gonzales (five innings) and Keaton Leach (three innings). Gonzales (0-2) suffered the loss, allowing four runs (three earned) and three hits with two walks and a pair of strikeouts.

Mustang junior second baseman Mark Mathias extended his hitting streak to 19 games with a second-inning infield single, Cal Poly's longest hitting streak since Ryan Lee set the school Division I record of 26 in 2009 and Matt Jensen produced a 23-game streak, also in 2009.

Senior center fielder Jordan Ellis now has a 13-game hitting streak following his single to center field in the sixth inning, but senior left fielder Zack Zehner's 12-game streak came to an end as he went 0-for-4.

Cal Poly scored three times in the second inning for a 3-0 lead. Brett Barbier was hit by a pitch, stole second, took third as the throw sailed into center field and scored on John Schuknecht's infield single. Two batters later, Pluschkell (pictured above) homered to left.

After UC Riverside tallied a run in the fourth on a triple by Vince Fernandez and a sacrifice fly by Joe Chavez, Cal Poly got the run back in the fifth as Peter Van Gansen was hit by a pitch and eventually scored on a wild pitch.

The Mustangs added an insurance run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Mathias and another in the eighth on Ryan Drobny's infield single off the glove of Chavez.

The Highlanders scored the final run of the game in the ninth. Chavez doubled and pinch runner Casey Sheehan took third on an infield single and came home on Ryan Lillie's sacrifice fly.

Cal Poly's five hits were by five different players. UC Riverside outhit the Mustangs 10-5, paced by Fernandez, Chavez and Witt, each with two hits.

Cal Poly has won 11 of its last 13 home games and is 14-7 since falling eight games below the .500 mark on April 4.

Second game of the series will be played Saturday at 1 o'clock, with Cal Poly freshman southpaw Kyle Smith (5-6, 3.80 ERA) to face UC Riverside senior right-hander Joie Dunyon (1-3, 4.67 ERA).

The series finale Sunday also starts at 1 p.m.