SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – On his 21st birthday, junior right-hander Erich Uelmen scattered five hits over eight-plus innings for his third victory of the season as Cal Poly opened its Blue-Green Rivalry and Big West Conference baseball series at UC Santa Barbara with an 11-2 victory Friday afternoon at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
Coach Larry Lee's Mustangs erupted for 15 hits, scoring five times in the fourth inning and four more in the eighth, en route to their fourth straight win over the Gauchos. Five of the hits -- two doubles, a pair of triples and a home run -- were for extra bases.
With the win, Cal Poly improves to 24-27 for the season and 12-7 in Big West games for third place, one game behind second-place Cal State Fullerton, which rallied for a 3-2 win at CSUN on Friday. UC Santa Barbara, a College World Series participant in 2016, slips to 22-28 and 7-12.
Uelmen (pictured above) struck out eight, two shy of his season and career high set twice earlier this season, and issued just one walk, throwing 105 pitches, as he improved his win-loss record to 3-8. His other wins were in the season opener at Cal and five weeks ago at UC Davis.
Sophomore right-hander Austin Dondanville secured the final three outs, all via strikeout, as he and Uelmen combined to strike out 11 Gauchos.
Sophomore catcher Nick Meyer led the 15-hit Mustang offensive attack with a single, double and triple. Shortstop Kyle Marinconz (pictured at right), center fielder Alex McKenna, first baseman Michael Sanderson and right fielder Kevin Morgan all added two hits.
The Mustangs scored their first two runs in the second inning on an RBI double by Meyer and Josh George's infield groundout.
Cal Poly broke the game open in the fourth. Designated hitter Elijah Skipps, Morgan and third baseman Bradlee Beesley all drove in runs with singles and second baseman Scott Ogrin tripled to knock in another run. A wild pitch produced the fifth run.
Marinconz, who doubled earlier in the game, highlighted the four-run seventh-inning rally with a three-run blast to right field, his second of the year. Beesley's sacrifice fly preceeded the home run.
Uelmen pitched a three-hit shutout through eight innings before UC Santa Barbara averted a shutout in the ninth on a two-run home run by first baseman Austin Bush, his Big West-leading 16th of the year. Hitting his sixth homer in the last six games, he now has 30 for his Gaucho career and 50 RBI this season.
Prior to Friday, Uelman had received little run support. The Mustangs scored three runs or less in eight of his previous starts, including being shut out four times.
The loss went to sophomore right-hander Noah Davis (6-4) as he allowed seven runs and nine hits over five innings with one walk and five strikeouts.
Left fielder Billy Fredricks collected two of the Gauchos' six hits, both singles.
Second game of the series will be played Saturday at 2 p.m. with sophomore right-hander Spencer Howard (6-1, 2.24 ERA) on the mound for Cal Poly. UC Santa Barbara is expected to start junior southpaw Kyle Nelson (6-4, 4.88 ERA).
The series finale will be played Sunday at noon.
Photos courtesy of Cal Poly Baseball Student Manager Jack Duffy