IRVINE, Calif. – Michael Sanderson's double just inside the right-field foul line drove in the winning run in the 10th inning as Cal Poly opened Big West Conference baseball play with a 3-2 victory over UC Irvine on Friday night inside Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark.
Nick Meyer (pictured above) reached first base on a fielding error by UC Irvine shortstop Mikey Duarte and scored from first base on Sanderson's second RBI hit of the game as Coach Larry Lee's Mustangs snapped a threre-game losing streak and improved to 9-16 for the year and 1-0 in Big West games.
Sanderson, a second-team All-Big West Conference selection in 2016, had missed Cal Poly's last five games with a leg injury after starting 76 consecutive contests at third base and started at first base Friday night for the first time in his Mustang career due to an elbow injury.
UC Irvine, which entered the game No. 1 in the nation in fielding percentage, fell to 11-11 with its sixth consecutive loss, the last five at home.
Cal Poly scored single runs in the first and third innings, and UC Irvine answered with single runs in the fourth and seventh frames.
Sanderson singled to knock in the run in the first and Meyer's run-scoring single in the third gave Cal Poly a 2-0 lead. Bradlee Beesley, who singled in the first inning and doubled in the third, scored both runs.
UC Irvine trimmed the deficit to 2-1 with an unearned run in the fourth on a Mustang error in the outfield and tied the game in the seventh on two walks, a hit batter and a sacrifice fly by Cole Krueter.
Uelmen remains 1-4 with two no decisions despite lowering his ERA to 2.28. The junior right-hander struck out four, walked one and gave up two runs (one earned) and seven hits.
The loss went to Andrew Pallante (2-2), the third UC Irvine pitcher, as he gave up a run and one hit over three innings.
Beesley and Sanderson each collected two of Cal Poly's eight hits. First baseman Adrian Damla had two of UC Irvine's seven hits.
Seocnd game of the series will be played Saturday afternoon at 2 with sophomore right-hander Spencer Howard (1-0, 1.37 ERA) on the mound for Cal Poly.
Photos courtesy of Jack Duffy