Cal Poly loses pitchers’ duel to Irvine in series opener

May 9, 2014
Irvine superfan Keith Franklin put on his Chupacabra mask and ace Andrew Morales delivered a victory

Irvine superfan Keith Franklin put on his Chupacabra mask and ace Andrew Morales delivered a victory

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

Cal Poly lost the opening game of a crucial Big West Conference series 3-2 to UC Irvine Friday night at Baggett Stadium.

Anteater Ace Andrew Morales beat Mustang ace Matt Imhof in a duel of pitchers expected to be selected in the early rounds of June’s Major League Baseball Draft. Both Morales and Imhof allowed two earned runs over eight innings of work, but Imhof surrendered an unearned run in the the fifth after he tossed a pickoff throw to second base into center field.

That run proved to be the difference in the game.

Imhof picked up steam as the game progressed, retiring 10 batters in a row before allowing a walk with two outs in the eigth. He threw a total of 123 pitches, and Imhof’s fastball was sitting 92 mph at the conclusion of his outing.

The junior lefty struck out 13 Anteaters Friday, but he also walked four batters, one of whom scored the winning run. Imhof only allowed three hits.

Morales, dubbed El Chupacabra by Irvine superfan Keith Franklin, struck out nine and walked one while surrendering five hits. The Chupacabra-like Anteater improved to 9-0 on the year and 19-0 in his Irvine career. Morales attended junior college for two years and has yet to be drafted, so his pitching has caught the collegiate baseball world by surprise.

On Friday night, superb Anteater defense helped Morales pick up the win. Irvine center fielder Justin Castro tracked down three balls hit to the warning track, and Anteater infielders played nearly flawless defense to back up their pitcher.

Cal Poly and Irvine are vying to both win the conference and host a regional. With the win Friday, Irvine is now 34-14 overall and 15-1 in the confernce. Cal Poly is now 39-10 overall and 14-5 in Big West play.

Saturday’s game is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Bagget Stadium. Freshman Mustang righty Justin Calomeni (7-2, 3.92) will face junior Anteater lefty Elliot Surrey (6-2, 2.09).


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