LONG BEACH, Calif. – Junior right-hander Bobby Ay scattered four hits over eight innings as Cal Poly clinched a Big West Conference baseball series at Blair Field for the first time in 10 years, defeating Long Beach State 7-1 Friday night.
Ay (pictured above) struck out a career-high 10 and walked just two, establishing a personal best by pitching eight innings. He threw a season-high 110 pitches (67 strikes) before giving way to Taylor Dollard, who retired the side in order in the ninth.
Cal Poly, winning a series at Long Beach State for the first time since taking two of three in 2009, moved above the .500 mark for the first time this season at 18-17.
The Mustangs have won a season-high five straight, claiming 16 victories in their last 24 contests, and remain a half-game ahead of UC Santa Barbara in the Big West standings at 9-2. The Gauchos earned their 11th straight win by shutting out UC Davis 7-0 and are 29-5 overall and 7-1 in conference games.
Long Beach State fell to 7-29 and 2-6.
Both the Mustangs and Dirtbags scored a run in the first inning.
Bradlee Beesley belted a solo home run with two outs in the first inning, his first of the year and fourth of his Mustang career, and Long Beach State answered with Chase Luttrell's RBI single.
Ay then settled down and retired nine in a row and 12 of 14 en route to his fifth straight win. Cal Poly, meanwhile, scored twice in the fourth inning to snap a 1-1 tie and added three in the sixth and one in the seventh for the victory.
A sacrifice fly by Tate Samuelson and an RBI single by Conagher Sands gave Cal Poly a 3-1 lead in the fourth. The Mustangs' three runs in the sixth came courtesy of an error, another run-scoring single by Sands and a wild pitch.
Samuelson singled to knock in the run in the seventh.
Sands, Beesley and Elijah Greene each had two of Cal Poly's eight hits. Sands and Samuelson both drove in a pair of runs.
Long Beach State was held to just four hits, all singles by four different batters.
The loss went to Dirtbag starter Nick Avila (0-2) as he allowed six runs (five earned) and seven hits over five innings with two walks and four strikeouts.
Cal Poly played its seventh errorless game of the season and fourth in its last five contests.
Final game of the series will be played Saturday at 2 p.m. with sophomore right-hander Darren Nelson (2-5, 4.46 ERA) of Cal Poly to face Long Beach State junior southpaw Zak Baayoun (2-6, 4.88 ERA).
The Mustangs are seeking their first sweep at Blair Field since 1997.