FRESNO – Sophomore righthander Sierra Hyland (right) struck out six in a complete-game, five-hit effort versus No. 16 Minnesota, but the Golden Gophers scratched out the decisive run in the bottom of the eighth inning Sunday afternoon as the Mustangs fell, 1-0. Cal Poly then closed play at the Fresno State Classic with a 4-1 loss to the host Bulldogs at Margie Wright Diamond.
During Sunday's doubleheader opener versus Minnesota (23-4), Hyland (10-9) retired 10 of the opening 12 hitters she faced and kept the Golden Gophers to allowed just two baserunners into scoring position through the opening five innings.
The Mustangs, offensively, were kept to a solitary Hyland hit through the opening six innings with Cal Poly's best chance to break through against Minnesota starter Sara Groenewegen (14-2) occurring in the top of the seventh. With two down, Hyland singled up the middle before moving to second base after freshman designated player Stephanie Heyward reached on a fielding error by Golden Gopher third baseman Sam Macken. Sophomore second baseman Ashley Tornio, however, struck out to end the Mustang threat.
Hyland retired Minnesota in order to close the seventh, and, with the international tiebreaker in effort, Tornio began the eighth inning on second base. Cal Poly, however, saw sophomore right fielder Courtney Tyler pop up a bunt attempt, junior first baseman Breana West line out and freshman catcher Susanne Morris strike out in succession.
During Minnesota's half of the eighth, a sacrifice bunt by left fielder Paige Palkovich moved center fielder Erica Meyer to third base. Three pitches later, shortstop Tyler Walker laced a single down the left field line to score Meyer for the 1-0 victory.
The loss versus Minnesota marked Cal Poly's second one-run defeat to a top 25-ranked team this season. Cal Poly fell to No. 3 Alabama 1-0 in eight innings on Feb. 14.
During Sunday's closing game versus Fresno State (18-10), the Bulldogs grabbed the only lead of the game in the bottom of the first inning with second baseman Malia Rivers scoring through a sacrifice fly by center fielder Brenna Moss
Cal Poly countered with its lone run of the day in the top of the second. Tornio followed a leadoff single from Heyward with a sacrifice bunt and after freshman center fielder Amanda Sandoval struck out, West produced an infield single to bring home Heyward for a 1-1 tie.
Mustang freshman righthander Lindsey Chalmers (4-6), who struck out three, stranded the bases loaded in the second and left two Bulldogs on to close the third before Fresno State surged ahead in the fourth through a two-out wild pitch and a run-scoring single up the middle from Rivers.
Cal Poly, meanwhile, was held hitless during the third, fourth and fifth innings and advanced just one baserunner into scoring position the remainder of the day.
Fresno State tacked on its final run in the sixth as right fielder Michelle Solomon drew a bases loaded walk to bring home third baseman Katie Castellon.
Cal Poly (14-16) returns to action and back home when hosting Buffalo for a 5 p.m. doubleheader at Bob Janssen Field on Friday, March 20.
Photo courtesy of Brian Johns