LOS ANGELES, Calif. – UCLA snapped a 1-1 tie with three runs in the second inning and held on to defeat Cal Poly 5-4 in the finale of a three-game non-conference baseball series Sunday afternoon at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
Brett Stephens doubled to knock in two runs and Jeremy Ydens followed with a run-scoring single in the second inning for the Bruins, who with the victory clinched the series, two games to one, and improved to 21-19 for the year.
Cal Poly, which fell to 19-23 overall, scored a run in the fifth and two more in the sixth to trim a 5-1 deficit to one run, but the Mustangs stranded seven runners on the basepaths in the final four innings, leaving the bases loaded with one out in the eighth.
Both teams scored a run in the first inning.
Sophomore center fielder Alex McKenna doubled off the wall in left-center field to open the game and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by senior first baseman Michael Sanderson (pictured above). UCLA tied it with an unearned run on Kyle Cuellar's RBI single.
After UCLA built its 5-1 lead with three runs in the second and one more in the third, Cal Poly answered with a solo home run by McKenna in the fifth, his fifth of the year, and two more runs in the sixth. Sanderson hit his first career home run as a Mustang leading off the inning and Colby Barrick's one-out groundout with runners at second and third pushed across the other run.
Senior right-hander Slater Lee, who relieved Mustang starter Bobby Ay in the fourth inning, held UCLA scoreless for 4 1/3 innings, allowing just one hit, but Cal Poly was unable to push across the tying run.
The Mustangs left a runner at third after scoring two runs in the sixth, a UCLA double play thwarted another Cal Poly rally – runners at first and second with one out -- in the seventh and the Mustangs loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, only to be turned away by UCLA closer Scott Burke. Shortstop Kyle Marinconz singled with one out in the ninth, but was left at first base.
Burke earned his second save of the series and third of the season by securing the final five outs.
UCLA starter Jon Olsen (3-1) allowed three runs and five hits over five innings for the win, striking out five. Jake Bird tossed 2 1/3 innings to set the table for Burke.
The loss went to Ay (1-4) as he gave up five runs (four earned) and six hits in three innings. Lee struck out five during his 4 1/3 innings in relief of Ay and Trent Shelton got the final two outs.
Cal Poly's 10-hit offensive attack was paced by Marinconz with three singles. McKenna (pictured above right) and junior designated hitter Elijah Skipps each added a pair of hits.
Stephens and Cuellar both had two of UCLA's seven hits.
Marinconz was 6-for-12 in the series while Beesley went 6-for-13 and Sanderson and McKenna both 5-for-13 as Cal Poly hit .287 in the three games and outscored the Bruins 11-10.
Cal Poly hosts Pepperdine on Tuesday night at 6 inside Baggett Stadium before returning to Big West play next weekend at first-place Long Beach State. The Dirtbags swept UC Davis over the weekend to improve to 13-2 in conference games, 3.5 games ahead of second-place Cal Poly and Cal State Fullerton, both 8-4.
Photos courtesy of Jack Duffy