SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — It was an eerily similar situation for Matt Imhof.
Just like last year in the NCAA Regionals, he had cruised through five innings and the Mustangs held a 4-0 lead. But last year, that’s when everything fell apart and Cal Poly’s season unraveled.
UCLA broke up a no hitter Imhof was working on and scored four runs with the help of a flyball lost in the lights. The Mustangs never recovered, falling 6-4 and losing the next day in an elimination game to end their season.
Imhof had allowed only one hit through five innings in Cal Poly’s Regional opener against Sacramento State. He said someone mentioned the similarities after the game, but it never occurred to him during the game.
That’s because unlike last year, Imhof continued to dominate and the Mustangs (46-10) prevailed. The junior southpaw allowed just three hits in 7.2 innings to lead Cal Poly to a 4-2 victory over Sacrament State (39-23) Friday night at Baggett Stadium.
The Mustangs hit Sacramento State freshman starter Sam Long hard, knocking extra-base hits in each of the first four innings. Zack Zehner led off the second inning with a triple off the centerfield wall and scored the first run of the game on a Jimmy Allen sacrifice fly.
In the third inning, John Schuknecht led off with a single and came around to score on Mark Mathias’ double off the wall in left-centerfield. The next time up, Schuknecht hit his own shot off the left-centerfield wall for an RBI triple and came in to score on an infield single by Mathias.
Sacramento State had an opportunity to get back in the game in the eighth inning when it loaded the bases with no outs against Imhof after a leadoff walk and two singles. But Imhof got Nathan Lukes to ground into a double play.
The Hornets scored a run on the play and added another on an error, but Reed Reilly got the final four outs for his 11th save of the season. They managed only three hits in the game — two by No. 9 hitter Scott Loper.
Cal Poly’s No. 9 hitter, Schucknecht, also had two hits and scored two runs. Mathias also had two hits and two RBI.
The Mustangs advance to the winner’s bracket game Saturday evening where they will face Pepperdine at 6 p.m. Sacramento State goes to the loser’s bracket and will play an elimination game against Arizona State at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Check out the 15-shot photo gallery from Game 2 of the San Luis Obispo Regional: