Cal Poly wins its SLO Regional opener

May 30, 2014
Zach Zehner scoring the first run of Cal Poly's postseason opener

Zach Zehner scoring the first run of Cal Poly’s postseason opener

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

Cal Poly won its first regional game at Baggett Stadium 4-2 over Sacramento State Friday evening.

Mustang ace Matt Imhof pitched seven and two thirds innings, allowing one earned run. Imhof shut out Sacramento State until the eighth inning Friday when the Hornets scored twice to tighten the game.

Closer Reed Reilly then recorded four outs on 15 pitches to earn the save.

A third inning RBI double by second baseman Mark Mathias and a fourth inning RBI triple by John Schuknecht provided the punch for the Mustang offense. Both Mathias and Schuknecht had two hits to lead the Cal Poly attack.

Mathias drove in two runs, and Schuknecht twice nearly missed hitting home runs Friday. His triple hit the wall in left, and a foul ball he hit in his next at bat cleared the wall just left of the pole.

“I feel locked in,” Schuknecht said after the game.

Left fielder Zach Zehner also tripled off the left field wall in the second inning. Zehner then scored the first run of the game on a Jimmy Allen sacrifice fly.

Sacramento State freshman lefty Sam Long lasted seven innings Friday, despite giving up four runs in the first four innings. Long, who was making his first postseason appearance, graduated high school early to play with the Hornets this spring.

Long walked two and allowed eight hits over the seven innings.

Junior Matt Imhof earned his first NCAA Tournament victory Friday.

Junior Matt Imhof earned his first NCAA Tournament victory Friday.

Imhof only surrendered three hits, but walked five batters, three of whom led off innings. He also walked the first two batters of the game, but picked the leadoff hitter off between the two walks.

Following the victory, Cal Poly (46-10) will play in the winners’ bracket game against Pepperdine (40-16) at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Sophomore righty Casey Bloomquist (12-1, 1.60) will pitch for the Mustangs against lefty pitcher-outfielder Aaron Brown (11-1, 2.24) of Pepperdine.

The Mustangs faced Brown briefly in a Tuesday game late last month in which the Pepperdine lefty struggled in a shortened starting role. Brown had a limited pitch count and only threw two innings, allowing two runs, three hits and four walks.

Despite Brown’s uncharacteristic performance, Head Coach Larry Lee said Cal Poly hitters know what to expect.

“They remember what he’s all about,” Lee said. “He’s a guy that wants to go at you. He’s very aggressive. He’s got a lot of confidence. He’s going to come right at us with fastballs, and he’s got a good change up and a good breaking ball.”

Brown also bats cleanup in the Pepperdine lineup and led the team with twelve home runs in the regular season.

Cal Poly split consecutive Tuesday games with the Waves in the regular season. The home team won both games.

Including Cal Poly, all four Big West conference schools won their postseason openers Friday. Long Beach State beat North Carolina, Cal State Fullerton defeated Nebraska and previously struggling UC Irvine won 10-3 over UNLV.

On Saturday afternoon, Friday losers Sacramento State and Arizona State will square off in a 1 p.m. elimination game at Baggett Stadium. Both teams would now have to win four consecutive games in order to win the San Luis Obispo Regional.


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