SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Nick Meyer's third career walk-off hit, a two-out ninth-inning single down the left-field line, scored Alex McKenna from second base as Cal Poly defeated CSUN 6-5 in the opener of a three-game Big West Conference baseball series Friday night before 1,383 inside Baggett Stadium.
For the second time in a week, Cal Poly scored the winning run after a dropped third strike.
McKenna struck out leading off the ninth but reached first base on a wild pitch thrown by Sunday starter Samuel Myers. Jack Kuzma's sacrifice bunt moved McKenna to second base. After a strikeout and an intentional walk issued to Michael Sanderson, Meyer (pictured above) lined a 2-0 pitch from Myers into left field, his third hit of the game, to drive in the winning run.
Cal Poly also beat Long Beach State 6-3 last Saturday, scoring three runs in the eighth inning after a two-out dropped third strike to snap a 2-2 tie.
With Friday's win, Cal Poly improved to 22-26 overall and remained in third place in the Big West with a 10-6 mark, one game behind Cal State Fullerton, which is 11-5 after overcoming an early 4-1 deficit and beating UC Santa Barbara 8-4.
Cal Poly never trailed CSUN, but let 4-0 and 5-3 leads slip away as the visiting Matadors rallied to catch the Mustangs in the last two innings.
With Mustang closer Michael Clark on the mound bidding for his 10th save and Cal Poly nursing a 5-3 lead, CSUN scored a run in the eighth on Nolan Bumstead's two-out RBI single up the middle and tied the game in the ninth on Alvaro Rubalcaba's one-out run-scoring single up the middle.
Tei Vanderford threw 129 pitches over eight innings, retiring eight of the last nine Mustang betters he faced, before giving way to Myers in the ninth. Myers (4-6) suffered the loss despite striking out two in the ninth.
Cal Poly built its early lead with three runs in the third and single runs in the fourth and sixth frames.
McKenna and Kyle Marinconz (pictured at left) produced RBI singles and Sanderson's sacrifice fly to center field gave Cal Poly a 3-0 lead.
After CSUN tallied three runs in the fifth -- the key hit a two-run double by Fred Smith -- to trim Cal Poly's lead to a single run, Scott Ogrin (pictured at right) tripled with one out in the sixth and came home on McKenna's sacrifice fly to right field.
While Meyer singled three times to lift his average to .245, George added two singles and McKenna knocked in two runs with a single and sacrifice fly.
CSUN was led offensively by Bumstead with two singles and a double, extending his hitting streak to 11 games, and William Colantono with three singles. Harrison Hart added two singles.
Seeking his third win of the year, Erich Uelmen pitched a one-hit shutout through the first four innings and allowed three runs and seven hits over seven frames with one walk and six strikeouts, leaving the game with a 5-3 lead. Clark (5-0) picked up the victory though he gave up two runs and four hits in his two innings of work on the mound.
Meyer's single to left field lifted Cal Poly to a 3-2 walk-off win over Nebraska on March 24. As a freshman a year ago, Meyer's one-out walk-off single to right field produced a 10-inning 7-6 win over Pacific.
Cal Poly has three walk-off wins this year, including a 13-inning triumph over Wichita State on March 18 on a triple by Marinconz.
Second game of the series will be played Saturday night at 6 with Cal Poly sophomore right-hander Spencer Howard (5-1, 2.27 ERA) to face CSUN junior righty Andrew Weston (5-2, 4.07 ERA).
Photos courtesy of Jack Duffy and Matt Aguirre