SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Senior first baseman Elijah Skipps hit a tiebreaking home run in the sixth inning and freshman right-hander Taylor Dollard tossed 4 2/3 scoreless innings in relief as Cal Poly edged UC Irvine 4-3 in a Big West Conference baseball game Saturday night inside Baggett Stadium.
Skipps' blast to right-center field snapped a 3-3 tie and was his fourth home run of the season.
Junior center fielder Alex McKenna produced his third four-hit game of the season and fifth of his Mustang career as Cal Poly outhit UC Irvine 11-8.
Dollard (2-0) (pictured at left) allowed just one hit — to the second batter he faced. Since then, he retired 12 of the final 13 Anteater batters of the game, hitting one with a pitch in the sixth inning. He struck out four and did not allow a walk.
With the win, Cal Poly evened the series against UC Irvine, pulled into a third-place tie with the Anteaters and Long Beach State in the Big West at 9-8 and improved to 23-26 for the year. UC Irvine fell to 28-20.
Cal State Fullerton leads with a 14-3 mark and CSUN is second at 11-9. The Matadors play at Cal State Fullerton next weekend.
Cal Poly erupted for three runs in the first inning. McKenna led off with a single and a double to right-center field by Kyle Marinconz plated McKenna. An RBI single by Skipps made it 2-0 and Bradlee Beesley's groundout to second base capped the three-run rally.
UC Irvine cut the deficit to 3-1 in the fourth on Mikey Filia's comebacker and tied the game with two in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Nick Anderson and a single to left field by Parker Coss.
That set the stage for Skipps' homer (pictured above) on a 1-0 pitch leading off the bottom of the sixth.
Cal Poly loaded the bases with one out in both the fifth and seventh innings, but UC Irvine turned 6-4-3 double plays each time to preserve the one-run deficit.
In addition to McKenna's four-hit game — all singles -- Marinconz and Skipps each had two hits and Cole Cabrera contributed a double. McKenna is 18-for-39 (.462) during a current nine-game hitting streak.
UC Irvine was paced offensively by shortstop Christian Koss with two singles. First baseman Ryan Fitzpatrick added a double.
The loss went to UC Irvine starter Trenton Denholm (4-6), who allowed four runs (three earned) and 10 hits over seven innings with two walks and a pair of strikeouts.
Cabrera, making just his sixth start of the year, threw out two UC Irvine runners from left field, one at home in the second inning and another at third base in the fifth.
Rubber game of the series will be played Sunday at 1 o'clock with Cal Poly's Michael Clark (3-5, 6.54 ERA) to face UC Irvine's Taylor Rashi (3-3, 3.02 ERA) in a matchup of junior right-handers.