SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Junior center fielder Alex McKenna (pictured above) singled to right-center field with two outs in the ninth inning, snapping a 3-3 tie and giving Cal Poly a 4-3 upset over No. 4 Arkansas on the opening day of the Tony Gwynn Legacy on Friday inside San Diego State's Tony Gwynn Stadium.
The win was Cal Poly's first over a top-five team since the opening series of the 2009 season when the Mustangs swept a doubleheader against No. 3 Rice, 10-3 and 7-6, in Baggett Stadium. Cal Poly also defeated No. 1 Cal State Fullerton 7-1 in 2005, also at home.
Pinch-hitter Blake Wagenseller opened the ninth with a single to left field. Nick Meyer's sacrifice bunt moved Wagenseller to second base, Scott Ogrin's groundout to second base advanced Wagenseller 90 feet to third and McKenna's second hit of the game scored Wagenseller.
Freshman southpaw Andrew Alvarez (1-0) retired Arkansas in order in the bottom of the ninth for the victory, striking out two in the final inning.
With the win, Cal Poly improved to 2-3 on the year. Arkansas fell to 4-1.
The game was tied at 1-1 and 3-3 before the Mustangs produced the go-ahead run in the ninth. Arkansas had two runners on base in the fifth, sixth and eighth innings, but failed to score each time.
Cal Poly was outhit 8-7 by Arkansas. McKenna and shortstop Kyle Marinconz both singled twice for the Mustangs while Carson Shaddy and Luke Bonfield each had two hits for the Razorbacks in the first meeting between the two schools.
Arkansas answered with a run in the fourth on a single, double and groundout.
Cal Poly regained the lead in the seventh without benefit of a hit. With two outs, Scott Ogrin walked and Dylan Doherty's slow grounder up the first-base line not only was misplayed by Arkansas pitcher Jackson Rutledge for an error, but he also threw the ball down the right-field line for another error, allowing Ogrin to score. Doherty made it 3-1 by scoring on a wild pitch.
The two-run lead was short-lived as Arkansas rallied for a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh. CShaddy singled with one out and, an out later, Dominic Fletcher, who hit 12 home runs a year ago, smacked his second homer of 2018, a two-run shot to right-center field, to tie the game again at 3-3.
That set the stage for McKenna's game-winning single in the ninth.
Alvarez (pictured at right) secured the final four outs for his first collegiate victory. The freshman from Los Alamitos High School did not allow a run, a hit or a walk. Mustang starter Michael Clark gave up a run and four hits over 5 1/3 innings with one walk and six strikeouts.
The loss went to Jake Reindl (0-1), the fourth of four Arkansas pitchers used in the game, as he allowed the run in the ninth and went two innings with one run, two hits, a walk and a strikeout.
Cal Poly's second game of the Tony Gwynn Legacy will be against defending Western Athletic Conference regular-season champion Grand Canyon on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the University of San Diego's Fowler Park.
Photos courtesy of David Cohen