Posted: Apr 28, 2019
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — USC scored 10 runs over the final three innings to turn a 5-1 deficit into an 11-5 victory over Cal Poly on Sunday, clinching the three-game baseball series, two games to one.
Coach Larry Lee's Mustangs scored an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth inning for a 5-1 advantage before the Trojans mounted their comeback with three runs in the seventh, two to take the lead in the eighth and five insurance runs in the ninth.
With the victory at Baggett Stadium, USC improved to 19-22-1 for the season, Cal Poly fell back to the .500 mark at 20-20.
Key at-bat of the game may have been by USC second baseman Tyler Pritchard, the No. 9 batter in the lineup. He came to the plate in the ninth inning with two outs, two on base and the Trojans holding onto a one-run lead at 6-5.
After fouling off several Taylor Dollard pitches, Pritchard drew a walk on the 10th pitch of the at-bat, loading the bases for leadoff hitter Blake Sabol. Sabol walked on four Matt Arens pitches to force in a run. Catcher CJ Stubbs followed with a three-run triple and scored on a wild pitch as USC broke the game open.
Cal Poly used seven relievers and all of them gave up at least one run. Starter Andrew Alvarez, who had already pitched twice earlier in the week, tossed 4 1/3 scoreless innings, scattering six hits, before giving way to the bullpen.
Cal Poly built its 5-1 lead with three runs in the third inning and single runs in the fifth and sixth.
Catcher Myles Emmerson led off the third with a solo home run to left field, his first in three years as a Mustang. Tate Samuelson singled up the middle for the second run of the inning and Conagher Sands capped the rally with an RBI single to left field.
Sands' second run-scoring single of the game tallied the run in the fifth and an infield error allowed Cal Poly to score an unearned run in the sixth for its t-1 lead.
Stubbs singled up the middle for an RBI in the seventh and Clay Owens tripled to knock in two more, cutting Cal Poly's lead to 5-4. Sabol's RBI single tied the game in the eighth and a wild pitch allowed the go-ahead run to come home, setting the stage for the Trojans' five-run ninth that put the game away.
USC closer Chris Clarke (4-2) pitched three scoreless innings for the win, striking out five. The loss went to Michael Clark (4-3), who gave up the tying and go-ahead runs in the eighth.
USC's 16-hit offensive attack was led by Sabol, Stubbs, Owens, Matthew Acosta and Brady Shockey, all with two hits. Cal Poly's nine hits included two each by Sands and Emmerson.
Sands, who has collected 14 of his 15 RBIs over the last three weeks, extended his hitting streak to 15 games with Sunday's pair of hits, the longest by a Mustang in three years. Sands is 21-for-58 (.362) during his hitting streak with four doubles and a triple. Emmerson had a 10-game hitting streak snapped Saturday.
Six of USC's nine leadoff hitters reached base while just one Mustang leadoff batter reached — Emmerson with his third-inning home run.
Despite the series loss, Cal Poly remains in first place in the Big West with a 10-2 mark. Second-place UC Santa Barbara (9-3) salvaged one win in its series at UC Riverside with a 15-4 triumph Sunday and third-place UC Irvine (10-5) is a game-and-a-half back after losing Sunday at Cal State Fullerton, 4-3.
The Mustangs play at UC Irvine in two weeks and at UC Santa Barbara in four weeks to close out the regular season.
Sands was 5-for-13 in the USC series with a double and five RBI while Tate Samuelson, Nick DiCarlo, Connor Gurnik and Emmerson all had four hits as the Mustangs hit .271 against the Trojans but compiled a 7.00 staff ERA.
Cal Poly closes a five-game stretch of non-conference games Tuesday night at Fresno State (26-13-1, 12-7-1 Mountain West) — the Bulldogs won the first meeting 16-6 on April 7 in San Luis Obispo — before returning home to host Hawai'i (18-22, 7-8 Big West) for a three-game Big West series next weekend.
Fresno State went 1-1-1 at home against New Mexico this weekend while Hawai'i lost two of three games at CSUN.