The Cal Poly Mustangs rode into Cougar Field Friday night on a six game winning streak and a top 30 ranking to show for their impressive start to the season. The Houston Cougars were quite the opposite, having lost six straight games, but looked to get back on track at home against a quality opponent.
Houston scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the first inning when William Kankel produced an RBI groundout to score Blake Kelso, who lead off the inning with a triple down the right field line.
The lead would be short-lived however. The Mustangs struck back in the top of the second with a three spot to take a 3-1 lead. Matt Jensen doubled to left field which scored Luke Yoder, who led off the inning with a walk. Jensen came in to score on J.J. Thompson’s RBI single to left field. A bunt hit by Kyle Smith gave the Mustangs runners on first and second with one out, but a fielder’s choice off the bat of Ryan Lee retired Thompson at third for the second out. Bobby Crocker then knocked in Smith with a single to right field.
The Cougars came back to tie the game in the bottom of the second. Zak Presley doubled over the left fielder’s head and came across to score on a single from Cougar catcher John Cannon. Cannon advanced to second when Kelso drew a two-out walk and crossed home for Houston’s third run of the game after an RBI single from Kankel.
Houston would take a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the third inning when an error by Cal Poly first baseman Adam Buschini allowed Caleb Ramsey to reach first with no outs. A David Murphy groundout pushed Ramsey to second, and Presley brought him home on a single up the middle.
Cal Poly once again woke up the bats in the top of the fourth. A walk to Crocker, followed by back-to-back doubles from Buschini and Wes Dorell in addition to D.J Gentile being hit by a pitch chased Houston starter Wes Musick from the game. Musick’s final line was three and one third innings pitched, seven hits, three walks, seven earned, and six strike outs. Cougar reliever Chris Wright would allow a run scoring single to Jensen, and see the fourth run of the inning cross for the Mustangs in route to a 7-4 lead.
Houston would add one more run in the bottom of the fifth before Cal Poly busted the game open. Kankel lead off the inning with a single, his second hit of the night, and he advanced to second on a Chase Dempsay groundout. He then came around to score on a single to center field by Ramsey. The Mustangs then answered in the top of the sixth with three more runs, highlighted by an RBI double from Jensen and a two-RBI bloop single from Lee. That would make the score 10-5 in favor of Cal Poly.
The Mustangs would add one more run in the top of the eighth when Smith took a Matt Taylor pitch over the left field wall for a solo home run. Two more runs would come across in the top of the ninth as Ricky Rossman, who had a pinch hit single to start the ninth, scored from third on a wild pitch. The final run of the game came off a Thompson RBI base hit to left field, scoring Phil Ortez.
Earning the win for Cal Poly was starting pitcher Jared Eskew, who worked five innings giving up eight hits, two walks, five runs (four earned), while striking out four. Musick took the loss for the Cougars. Kevin Castner and Jeff Johnson combined to throw four innings of shutout baseball in relief of Eskew for the Mustangs.
When asked how his team would come back tomorrow after a game like tonight, Houston head coach Rayner Noble said, “That’s one good thing. You get to come back out tomorrow. It starts with good defense and pitching.” Coach Noble went on to say, “Our offense did OK. It puts a lot of pressure on the offense when you keep giving up ten, eleven, or twelve runs a game.” Presley re-iterated his coach’s sentiments saying, “The key is starting pitching. Corolla has had two good starts. We need to keep swinging the bats, maybe even put up some more runs.”
The two teams will be back in action at Cougar Field tomorrow with first pitch set for 2 P.M. Central.