SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Senior right-hander Steven Fischback established a new career high with 13 strikeouts and pitched his second complete game of the season and third of his collegiate career as Cal Poly clinched its Big West Conference baseball series against UC Davis with a 4-2 victory Saturday night before 1,327 in Baggett Stadium.
Fischback (6-2), who has earned four wins and a no decision in his last five starts, tossed a six-hitter and had just four three-ball counts, throwing 119 total pitches, for the Mustangs (23-22, 12-8 Big West), who also won Friday's game 4-2.
UC Davis, which had won seven of its last nine games going into the series, fell to 16-29 and 8-9.
Cal Poly has won five series so far this season and on Sunday will bid for its third series sweep of the season on Senior Day. The team will honor its seven seniors prior to the 1 p.m. first pitch. The Mustangs have won seven straight series against the Aggies and are 21-5 in the all-time series.
Fischback (pictured above) walked only one and his 13 strikeouts are one short of the school Division I record set by Mike Zirelli in 1999 and tied by Mason Radeke earlier this year. Allowing two earned runs Saturday, Fischback lowered his ERA to 3.45.
His previous career high for strikeouts was 11 against Alabama on the opening weekend of the 2008 season and his other two complete games were against UC Davis in 2008 and Cal State Fullerton three weeks ago.
Both teams scored a run in the first inning.
UC Davis first baseman Eric Johnson grounded into a force play at second base with the bases loaded in the top of the frame for an RBI and Cal Poly answered in the bottom of the inning as center fielder Bobby Crocker belted a 2-1 pitch over the left-field wall for a home run, his third of the season.
Cal Poly snapped the 1-1 tie with three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Right fielder Mitch Haniger opened the rally with a single up the middle and first baseman Matt Jensen singled off the glove of UC Davis third baseman Justin Andrade. Catcher Elliot Stewart's sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position.
Left fielder Jimmy Allen's high bouncer caromed off the glove of Aggie pitcher Anthony Kupbens for an infield single, driving in the first run, and Crocker's safety squeeze bunt gave Cal Poly a 3-1 cushion. Second baseman Denver Chavez singled into the gap in right-center field, scoring Allen for a 4-1 Mustang lead.
UC Davis got a run back in the ninth on pinch-hitter CJ Blom's single to center field and brought the potential game-tying run to the plate with two outs, but Fischback induced Kevin Grove, another pinch-hitter, to take a called third strike, ending the game.
Cal Poly's nine hits included a single and home run by Crocker, a single and double by Haniger and two singles by Allen.
Shortstop Scott Heylman and left fielder David Popkins both had two of UC Davis' six hits.
Kupbens (5-6) suffered the loss, also going the distance. The junior southpaw, who entered the game with the third-best ERA in the Big West at 2.24, allowed four runs and nine hits in eight innings with no walks and a pair of strikeouts, throwing just 96 pitches.
The 1-hour, 58-minute game was the shortest of the season for Cal Poly.
Sophomore right-hander Joey Wagman (3-2, 4.08 ERA) will start for Cal Poly in Sunday's series finale against UC Davis junior southpaw Dayne Quist (2-5, 5.09 ERA).
Fischback is among seven Mustang seniors who will be honored in a pregame ceremony at 12:40 p.m. The others are third baseman J.J. Thompson, designated hitter DJ Gentile, outfielder Jono Grayson and pitchers Frankie Reed, Eugene Wright and Tommy Erlin.