SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Drew Thorpe allowed one run and six hits over seven-plus innings while Brooks Lee and Collin Villegas belted home runs in a four-run first-inning rally as No. 17 Cal Poly defeated Long Beach State 4-1 in the opener of a three-game Big West Conference baseball series Friday night before 2,062 inside Baggett Stadium.
In improving to 5-0 on the year, Thorpe struck out five and walked one. Florida State's Parker Messick, who was one strikeout ahead of Thorpe for the national lead, struck out four over 2 2/3 innings in a 7-3 loss to Georgia Tech. Both now have 80 strikeouts for the year.
With the victory, Cal Poly has won 12 of its last 14 games and is 19-11 for the season and 6-1 in Big West contests.
They are percentage points better than UCSB(8-2) on top of the Big West standings.
Lee's seventh home run of the season, a solo shot to right-center field, ignited Cal Poly's first-inning uprising. Villegas followed with his second homer of the year, a two-run blast to left for a 3-0 Mustang lead. Two batters later, Matt Lopez singled to right-center field, driving in the fourth run of the inning.
That was enough for Thorpe and reliever Jason Franks, who earned his third save in the last two weeks and fourth of the year by tossing two scoreless frames. All six of the outs he recorded were strikeouts -- three looking with two or three runners on base in the eighth and three more, all swinging, with one or two runners on base in the ninth.
Cal Poly was held scoreless on one hit -- a third-inning single by Nick Marinconz -- after scoring four times in the first frame.
Thorpe retired the side in order five times in the first six innings and threw 104 pitches, 66 for strikes.
Long Beach State saved its offense for the final three frames, putting runners at first and third with two outs in the seventh before scoring its lone run on an RBI single by Tyler White.
The Dirtbags also loaded the bases in the eighth on a single, double and hit batsman before Franks struck out Chase Luttrell, and had two more baserunners with one out in the ninth before Connor Burns and Devereaux Harrison both struck out to end the game.
Long Beach State outhit Cal Poly 7-4, led by Porter and Burns, each with two singles. The Nos. 6-9 batters in the Dirtbag lineup collected six of their team's seven hits as the top five went 1-for-17 at the plate.
The loss went to Jack Noble (3-3), who allowed all four runs, three earned, and three hits in the first inning. Marques Johnson relieved Noble with two outs in the first and pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out seven with two walks and one hit allowed.
Second game of the series will be played Saturday at 4 p.m. with Cal Poly junior southpaw Travis Weston (3-1, 4.64 ERA) to face Long Beach State sophomore right-hander Luis Ramirez (2-0, 0.36 ERA). Ramirez has missed three of his last four starts due to deltoid tendonitis.
(article courtesy of Cal Poly)