SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – After letting 3-0 and 7-2 leads slip away, Cal Poly rallied for two runs on sacrifice flies by Cole Cabrera and Tate Samuelson in the bottom of the ninth inning to overcome No. 2-ranked Vanderbilt 9-8 on Sunday in the MLB4 Tournament.
Trailing 8-7, the Mustangs opened the ninth with a double down the left-field line by Myles Emmerson. Elijah Greene singled to right field and advanced to second on an errant throw from right field to the plate, while Emmerson stopped at third.
Cabrera's sacrifice fly to left scored Emmerson, tying the game at 8-8. Nick Marinconz reached base on a throwing error, Greene taking third. Bradlee Beesley was intentionally walked, setting the stage for Samuelson, whose fly ball to right-center field was deep enough to score Greene with the winning run.
Cal Poly finished play in the MLB4 Tournament, featuring the top two teams of the 2019 season and another regional qualifier, with a 2-1 record, sharing first place with Michigan.
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Cabrera was 3-for-5 in the game with the sacrifice fly, two singles and a double, driving in two runs. Right fielder Scott Ogrin added two hits, including a two-run single in the sixth inning, and Emmerson also had two hits.
Freshman right-hander Drew Thorpe pitched seven solid innings against the defending national champion Commodores, allowing two runs and four hits over seven innings with three walks and six strikeouts, but was not involved in the decision.
Junior right-hander Darren Nelson, who secured the final out in the top of the ninth after Vanderbilt had taken the lead with a run, also on a sacrifice fly, off another reliever, earned the victory.
Cal Poly scored single runs in the second, third and fourth innings for a 3-0 lead. Cabrera singled to tally the run in the second frame, Blake Wagenseller's RBI single in the third made it 2-0 and Nick Marinconz singled to knock in the fourth-inning run.
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After Vanderbilt trimmed the deficit to 3-2 with two runs in the top of the sixth, Cal Poly answered with four in the bottom of the frame. Samuelson singled in the first run, Ogrin made it 6-2 with his two-run single and Emmerson drew a bases-loaded walk for the final tally.
Vanderbilt stormed back with five runs in the eighth, the crushing blow a three-run home run by Harrison Ray, to catch the Mustangs at 7-7.
All-American third baseman Austin Martin doubled with one out in the ninth and eventually came home on a sacrifice fly by Will Duff, giving Vanderbilt an 8-7 lead and setting the stage for Cal Poly's walk-off rally in the bottom of the ninth.
The win was Cal Poly's first against a No. 1-ranked team. The Mustangs hosted Cal State Fullerton when the Titans were ranked No. 1 in 2003, but lost all three games. Cal Poly was ranked No. 1 for a week during the 2014 season.
Cal Poly plays its next five games inside Baggett Stadium next week, hosting Pepperdine on Tuesday at 6 p.m. and BYU for four games next Thursday through Saturday.