SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Sophomore right-hander Spencer Howard tossed Cal Poly's first complete game of the 2017 season, scattering seven hits and striking out 10 in a 5-2 victory over CSUN on Saturday night before 1,654 inside Baggett Stadium.
Howard (6-1), who missed his career high for strikeouts by one — he struck out 11 against Wichita State in late March — surpassed his career high for innings pitched in a game — 7 1/3 innings against UC Irvine, also in late March — and threw 118 pitches for the win.
Cal Poly clinched its fifth Big West series victory of the year in six tries and improved to 23-26 for the season and 11-6 for a second-place tie with Cal State Fullerton in the conference. The Titans fell 6-3 to UC Santa Barbara on Saturday night.
Howard (pictured above) walked just one and lowered his ERA to 2.24, No. 2 in the Big West. He has earned a victory in four consecutive starts since his lone defeat April 14 at UC Davis.
Cal Poly broke up a scoreless pitchers duel with four runs in the fourth inning and never looked back. A throwing error on a sacrifice bunt by Nick Meyer plated the first run, Elijah Skipps grounded out to push across the second run and an RBI single by Josh George and a run-scoring double by Scott Ogrin made it 4-0.
CSUN got one run back in the fifth on an RBI single by Albee Weiss and Cal Poly restored its four-run cushion in the seventh on a leadoff home run to right field by Kevin Morgan (pictured at right), his second of the year and fourth of his Mustang career.
CSUN tallied a run in the ninth as Alvaro Rubalcaba tripled and came home on a Mustang throwing error. Two more Matadors reached base in the ninth, bringing the potential game-tying run to the plate, but Nolan Bumstead grounded into a force play at second base to end the game.
Matador starter Andrew Weston (5-3) also went the distance on the mound, allowing five runs (three earned) and nine hits over eight innings with one walk and a pair of strikeouts.
Cal Poly's nine hits included two each by Ogrin and Alex McKenna. Justin Toerner collected two of CSUN's seven hits.
Coach Larry Lee's Mustangs seek their first series sweep of the season Sunday at 1 o'clock with sophomore right-hander Bobby Ay (1-5, 5.08 ERA) of Cal Poly to face CSUN senior right-hander Samuel Myers (4-6, 4.11 ERA).