SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — On Friday night, Cal Poly head baseball coach Larry Lee earned his 500th victory. On Saturday night, his club clinched a Big West Conference series for the second straight weekend.
On Sunday afternoon, the Mustangs completed their first sweep of a three-game series against Long Beach State in Lee's 16 years as head coach with an 8-2 victory inside Baggett Stadium.
Michael Clark and Andrew Alvarez combined to hold the Dirtbags to just two runs with five strikeouts as Cal Poly evened its overall record at 19-19 as well as its conference mark at 6-6. The Mustangs, 1-3 in the season-opening tournament at Surprise, Ariz., pulled to within one game of the .500 mark five times, finally reaching the plateau Sunday.
"It was a good weekend overall and we did a lot of things well," Lee said. "Despite a lot of situations we put ourselves into, but were able to get out of those jams with a minimum amount of damage."
Cal Poly earned its first sweep against Long Beach State since the 1997 season, posting a 5-4 victory Friday night and a 5-2 triumph Saturday night.
"We haven't played well against Long Beach State over the past few years," Lee said. "They are an elite program and their coaching staff is really good. This keeps us going in the right direction and adds to our sense of confidence that has been fleeting this season."
With their second series sweep of the season — Dartmouth was the other in March — the Mustangs are alone in fourth place in the Big West, two games behind UC Irvine (8-4). Cal State Fullerton is second at 6-3 and Hawai'i fell to third at 7-5.
"The sweep keeps us in the conversation," said Lee. "We started conference 1-5 and that leaves us no room for very many losses the rest of the way. We have had our difficulties on the road and we have to take advantage of playing at home."
Cal Poly, 13-5 at home but 6-14 away from Baggett Stadium, struck for five runs in the first inning Sunday and never looked back.
Bradlee Beesley's single to left field was misplayed and two runs came across. After Beesley scored on a wild pitch, Elijah Skipps singled to left for a 4-0 Mustang lead and Josh George was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to cap the rally.
The Mustangs added another run in the third on Scott Ogrin's RBI double down the left-field line.
Long Beach State, held scoreless for six innings Saturday night, waited until the sixth inning Sunday to get on the scoreboard as Steven Rivas singled to right field to knock in both runs.
Cal Poly, however, got those two runs back in the seventh on a two-run home run by Skipps (pictured at right) to straightaway center field, his third round-tripper in just seven games this year.
Clark, who was struggling with a 7.23 ERA, got the start Sunday due to the injury to Jarred Zill and responded with five shutout innings before the Dirtbags broke through in the sixth.
Clark (3-3) earned the win, allowing two runs and eight hits over 5 1/3 innings with two walks and four strikeouts. Freshman southpaw Andrew Alvarez relieved Clark with one out in the sixth and tossed 3 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings for his first save, striking out four.
Cal Poly's 10-hit offensive attack was paced by Skipps with a single and home run, driving in three runs. Ogrin added a double and single with one RBI while Tate Samuelson singled twice. Kyle Marinconz contributed a double.
Long Beach State collected eight hits, all singles, two of them by catcher Chris Jimenez.
Dirtbag starter Adam Seminaris failed to secure an out in the first inning, tagged with five runs, all earned, on five hits with one walk. He also hit two batters and threw a wild pitch.
Chris Rivera, Long Beach State's closer with a Big West-leading 11 saves, tried to stem the tide and keep the Dirtbags in the game, going three innings and allowing one run and one hit with four strikeouts.
Cal Poly, however, with the run in the third and two more in the seventh was able to keep Long Beach State at a distance.
Cal Poly hit .306 for the series with six doubles, four triples and a home run. Skipps led the way, going 5-for-10 with three RBI, while Ogrin was 4-for-10, Beesley 5-for-13 and Alex McKenna 4-for-13, all with two RBI.
The Mustangs take a break from Big West play with five consecutive non-conference contests, visiting Santa Clara on Tuesday night before returning home to host UCLA for a three-game weekend series and Santa Clara on May 1.