RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Junior left fielder Kevin Morgan celebrated a homecoming of sorts with three hits while junior right-hander Justin Calomeni pitched 5 1/3 innings in relief for the win as Cal Poly recorded a come-from-behind 6-4 victory over UC Riverside on Sunday afternoon at the Riverside Sports Complex.
Morgan, a graduate of Santiago High School in Corona, about 15 miles south of Riverside, notched two singles and a double in front of numerous relatives and family friends as Cal Poly outhit the Highlanders 12-11 and won a conference game on the road for the first time in nine tries.
The Mustangs recorded their 30th win of the season for the 11th time since 2000, improving to 30-24 with the victory. Cal Poly is tied for fifth place in the Big West with UC Riverside and CSUN as all are 10-11, a half-game behind fourth-place Hawai'i (12-12). The Highlanders, 6-4 and 11-5 winners in the first two games of the series, fell to 24-28 overall.
UC Riverside scored two runs in the third inning and added another in the fifth for a 3-0 lead.
Cal Poly rallied for two runs in the sixth inning. Michael Sanderson and Morgan both singled. Sanderson scored on a throwing error by UC Riverside catcher Casey Worden while Morgan was stealing second base. Morgan eventually came home on Brett Binning's grounder to shortstop.
The Mustangs took the lead in the series for the first time with two more runs in the seventh.
Cooper Moore reached base on an error and eventually came home on a sacrifice fly by John Schuknecht, tying the game at 3-3. Alex McKenna doubled with two outs and, after a walk to Sanderson, Kyle Marinconz doubled down the left-field line to score McKenna, giving Cal Poly a 4-3 advantage.
UC Riverside knotted the score again in the bottom of the seventh on a two-out home run by Vince Fernandez, his eighth of the year.
Cal Poly regained the lead in the eighth as Morgan led off with a double, Binning's sacrifice bunt moved Morgan to third and he scored on Josh George's line-drive sacrifice fly to center field.
UC Riverside loaded the bases with one out in the eighth inning, but Calomeni (pictured above) induced pinch-hitter Adonis Morrison to hit into a 6-4-3 double play.
Cal Poly tallied an insurance run in the ninth off Highlander closer Ryan Lillie. With two outs, McKenna, Sanderson and Marinconz all singled, McKenna scoring the run and Marinconz picking up his second RBI.
The Highlanders stranded a runner at second base in the bottom of the ninth.
Three of Cal Poly's six runs were unearned as UC Riverside made five errors.
Mustang starter Jarred Zill left the game with two outs in the fourth inning with an injury to his right forearm. Calomeni (5-2) allowed two runs and five hits over 5 1/3 innings for the win with three walks and five strikeouts. He threw 107 pitches.
Cal Poly is now 3-18 for the season when trailing after six innings and 27-1 when leading after eight innings.
In addition to Morgan's three hits, Cal Poly also was paced offensively by McKenna, Sanderson and Marinconz with two hits each. Fernandez and Mark Contreras each had three hits for UC Riverside.
The Mustangs close out the 2016 season next weekend with a three-game Big West series against UC Davis in Baggett Stadium. The series will be played Thursday and Friday nights at 6 and Saturday afternoon at 1.