SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Successive sixth-inning home runs sank the Cal Poly softball program 5-4 during the opening game of a Saturday doubleheader while the Mustangs were also edged during the second game against Long Beach State at Bob Janssen Field, 1-0.
During Saturday's opening contest and the opening Big West Conference game for both programs, Long Beach State (20-13, 2-0) grabbed a 2-0 lead during the top of the third inning through a two-run double down the left field line from right fielder Darian Tautalafua.
Cal Poly (10-19-1, 0-2) collected one hit during each of the opening four innings against Long Beach State starting righthander Amanda Hansen (5-4) before deadlocking the scoreline in the fifth. After doubling to lead off the inning, Mustang junior left fielder Lauren Moreno (above) reached third through a sacrifice bunt from senior Whitley Gerhart. Two spots later in the lineup, Mustang junior second baseman Ashley Romano slapped a grounder that was mishandled by Long Beach State shortstop Shayna Kimbrough. Moreno scored on the error before a base hit down the right field line from junior third baseman Jillian Andersen brought home Romano.
The 49ers, however, required just one more inning to find the decisive runs. A leadoff single from second baseman Nalani St. Germain was followed by a two-run Tautalafua homer. The next 49er, catcher Karli Sandoval, then lined a solo homer over the left field wall to put Long Beach State up 5-2.
The Mustangs, however, produced just an Andersen single during the bottom of the seventh in defeat.
Cal Poly sophomore lefthander Chloe Wurst (6-8-1) suffered the loss after striking out four 49ers.
During Saturday's second contest, Long Beach State – held to two hits through the opening three innings by Mustang starting righthander Jordan Yates (2-8) – notched the game's only run in the fourth as first baseman Sarah Carrasco singled down the left field line with one out to plate Tautalafua.
Cal Poly, which stranded eight baserunners during the second game, enjoyed its best chance to break through against Long Beach State starting righthander Christian Carbajal (5-2) during the fifth as the Mustangs loaded the bases with one down. However, junior pinch hitter Emily Ceccacci struck out and freshman first baseman Breana West flew out to end the threat.
The Mustangs, who suffered their 10th one-run loss of 2013, were retired in order during the sixth and seventh innings.
Cal Poly and Long Beach State conclude the three-game series on Sunday, March 24 at 12 noon.