After handing the ball to co-interim head coach Dan Ricabal, Dirtbags RHP Nick Avila looked down and strolled back to the dugout with no outs in the sixth. His lack of command Friday contributed to a 7-1 loss to first-place Cal Poly (18-17, 9-2 Big West).
“We did a poor job of making adjustments and as a staff we have to do a better job of leading them,” co-interim head coach Greg Bergeron said.
Cal Poly wins the series meaning Long Beach (7-29, 2-6 Big West) is running out of chances to gain ground in the Big West Conference.
Avila’s problems started early. Cal Poly’s Bradlee Beesley crushed a changeup over the left field wall in the top of the first for a 1-0 Mustang lead. It was the first homer allowed by Avila this season.
The Dirtbags got the run right back. Senior center fielder Brooks Stotler led off the bottom of the inning with his team-leading 18th walk and eventually scored on a liner into right by freshman left fielder Chase Luttrell.
Avila (0-2) continued to labor, though. He allowed the first two batters to reach in the fourth inning. A wild pitch advanced both runners into scoring position. After a sacrifice fly, a single up the middle gave Cal Poly a 3-1 lead.
“I just didn’t have my best stuff tonight,” Avila said.
Avila allowed five earned runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and two walks.
Mustangs’ RHP Bobby Ay (5-0) seemed energized by Avila’s struggles and had seven strikeouts through five innings. He finished with a career-high 10 strikeouts through eight innings allowing just four hits.
“We didn’t make good [batter’s] box adjustments,” Bergeron said.
Junior first baseman Jacob Hughey extended his hitting streak to six games with a leadoff single in the bottom of the third. However, the offense never threatened to take the lead. Cal Poly cruised to victory helped by a three-run sixth inning.
The Dirtbags end the homestand against Cal Poly 2 p.m. Saturday at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field.