SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Cal Poly (4-0, 0-0 Big West), which opened the 2013 season much the same way it ended the 2012 campaign, adding to its season-ending seven-game winning streak with four more victories over the weekend in the Bay Area, opens the home portion of its 2013 baseball schedule this weekend, hosting Seattle (1-3, 0-0 Western Athletic) for a three-game non-conference series.
Games on Friday and Saturday nights start at 6 o'clock, followed by a noon finale Sunday at Baggett Stadium (1,734). The Friday and Sunday games will be aired live on ESPN Radio 1280 and also will be available via a video stream at GoPoly.com. An audio stream as well as live stats for all three games will be available at GoPoly.com as well.
Cal Poly, 36-20 a year ago and winner of 14 of its final 17 games, returns 23 letter winners, including seven position starters and 11 pitchers (four starters), off its 2012 squad which swept six series, won nine of 14 weekend series, finished one game behind champion Cal State Fullerton in the Big West and ended atop the conference in most key offensive categories, including average, runs, hits, doubles, home runs and RBI.
The Mustangs are coming off a perfect weekend in the Bay Area, jumping to a 4-0 start for the first time since 2001 with 5-3, 1-0 and 10-5 victories at San Francisco followed by a 5-4 triumph at Santa Clara on Monday. Seattle dropped two of three games at Santa Clara over the weekend despite scoring 32 runs on 38 hits and fell 6-4 to Portland on Tuesday.
Cal Poly hit .321 in the quartet of games, led by junior catcher Chris Hoo with a 5-for-8 performance and eight RBI as he hit a three-run double Friday and a grand slam Sunday, both hits breaking the games open. Senior second baseman Denver Chavez was 8-for-15 with one double while junior center fielder David Armendariz was 7-for-18 with a double and three RBI. Junior third baseman Jimmy Allen added five hits.
The Mustang pitching staff turned in a 2.00 ERA as opponents hit just .256 with only six extra-base hits in four games. Friday starter Joey Wagman and reliever Reed Reilly each struck out seven San Francisco batters while Saturday starter Matt Imhof pitched eight scoreless innings. Sophomore right-hander Bryan Granger will start Sunday's contest.
The Mustangs played most of the weekend without junior first baseman and leadoff batter Tim Wise, who sprained an ankle during batting practice Friday. He did contribute a two-run single as a pinch-hitter Monday at Santa Clara and could return to the starting lineup this weekend.
Eleventh-year Mustang head coach Larry Lee earned his 300th win last May 5 in a 12-7 decision at UC Davis. Lee (313-253-2) surpassed Berdy Harr (297-249-6 from 1973-83) as Cal Poly's winningest head baseball coach during the Pacific series a week earlier. Steve McFarland was 290-257 in 10 seasons (1984-93) at the helm of the Mustangs while Ritch Price was 217-228-1 in Cal Poly's first eight years of play in Division I (1995-2002).
Lee guided Cal Poly to a trio of 3-0 starts in his first 10 seasons with season-opening series sweeps over San Diego in 2005, Fresno State in 2006 and Oklahoma State last year, but the Mustangs lost Game 4 of those three seasons before breaking through last weekend. In 2002, Ritch Price guided the Mustangs to three wins over Hawaii-Hilo before battling to an 8-8 draw in the series finale.
Seattle, coached by Donny Harrel (fourth season, 56-102-1, CSU Bakersfield '95), returns 19 lettermen, including four position starters and eight pitchers, off a team which went 23-30 a year ago. The Redhawks, an independent a year ago, will play in the Western Athletic Conference this spring.
Top returnees for Seattle are utility player Ryan Somers (.297, 13 RBI in 2012), catcher Brian Olson (.276, 18 RBI in 2012) and infielder Nate Roberts (.233, 18 RBI, five steals in 2012). The Redhawks' pitching staff is paced by right-handers Eric Yardley (2-2, 2.49 ERA, five saves in 2012) and Grant Gunning (3-3, 2.68 ERA in 2012) and southpaw Garrett Anderson (6-6, 5.66 ERA, three saves in 2012).
Seattle as a team is hitting .299, has compiled a 7.68 staff ERA and has made 13 errors in four games for a .922 fielding percentage ... in the Santa Clara series, center fielder Landon Cray was 6-for-10 while left fielder Somers was 7-for-12, right fielder Sean Narby 5-for-10 and shortstop Nate Roberts 6-for-13.
Seattle became a full-fledged NCAA Division I member -- for the second time -- on July 1, 2012 ... Seattle's mascot was the Chieftains when the school was in Division I from 1952-80.
Cal Poly and Seattle are meeting for the first time on the baseball field Friday. The Mustangs will visit the Redhawks in 2014 in Seattle.
Cal Poly was ranked No. 22 by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper after its 7-1 start and No. 27 after sweeping UC Irvine in early April. The Mustangs were 17-1 on Saturday, 6-1 in shutouts, 34-1 when leading after eight innings, 28-5 when outhitting their foes and 22-5 when making fewer errors than the opposition in 2012 en route to a second-place Big West finish, just one game behind Cal State Fullerton.
Cal Poly made just 46 errors in 56 games, good for 15th in the country out of 297 teams. Its 3.48 staff ERA was a school Division I record, surpassing the 2011 team's mark of 3.60. At the plate, the Mustangs finished with a .297 average, hitting .337 in their final 16 games. The school-record .978 field percentage included 22 errorless games.
Cal Poly has won at least 30 games eight times in the last 13 seasons, posted its 10th winning season since 2000 and has finished in the upper half of the conference standings nine times in the last 11 years.
Next week, the Mustangs head to Seattle to face Washington for a three-game series. Game times are 5 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. Cal Poly, which hosts Holy Cross on March 5-6 for a pair of 6 p.m. contests, is playing 10 of its first 15 games on the road this season.