Zack Zehner’s two-run home run with no outs in the bottom of the fourth inning carried the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Mustangs to a 6-2 victory over the visiting Sacramento State Hornets today.
The Mustangs (5-9) rode the arm of Andrew Bernstein going 6 1/3 innings, allowing two earned runs to pick up the win. Justin Dillon took the loss for Sac State (8-7).
This series is the Hornets first visit to Baggett Stadium, the home of Cal Poly, since the Mustangs eliminated Sac State from the 2014 NCAA Division I Baseball Regionals held in San Luis Obispo, California. The series was also originally scheduled to be a three-game homestand for Cal Poly, but a game was added due to Sac State having three games cancelled last month in Texas.
Both teams got on the scoreboard quickly in this contest. Chris Lewis’ RBI fielder’s choice staked the Hornets to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. However, the Mustangs’ Peter Van Gansen evened the score with an RBI single up the middle in the bottom half of the inning.
The hosts took the lead in the bottom of the third inning with a one-out RBI double to right center by Mark Mathias.
Dillon, a sophomore, made his first start of the season for the Hornets and had seven prior appearances out of the bullpen. His final line was five innings pitched, with four earned runs, but finished with an encouraging six strikeouts.
Although Cal Poly’s offense picked apart Sac State as Zehner’s fourth inning shot to right field followed a leadoff triple by Van Gansen––which reached the gap in right center. Dillon settled down after the home run when he forced a ground out and followed with two strikeouts to retire the side.
“I think Justin will transition nicely to the starting rotation,” said coach Reggie Christiansen. “He had some bad luck today, but I thought he pitched well at times.”
Mathias and Van Gansen each went 3-for-4 to pace a Mustang’s lineup which outhit the Hornets nine to eight. Sac State was led by PJ Floyd, Scotty Burcham and Nathan Lukes, the team’s one through three batters that combined for six hits.
Danny Zandona pitched 2 2/3 innings of relief for the Mustangs, striking out five Hornets to pick up his second save of the season. Tyler Beardsley pitched the final three innings for Sac State allowing two earned runs.
The Hornets added one final run in the top of the seventh inning when a double steal allowed Kyle Moses to steal home.
“I did not think we played really well today,” Christiansen said. “We faced some tough pitching lately and our guys approach has been defensive. We have to get back to Hornets’ baseball and having an aggressive mentality at the plate.”
Game 2 of the four-game series is scheduled for Friday at 6 p.m.