No. 21 Cal Poly Earns First Division I Regional Victory, Defeats San Diego 9-2
VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS (KSBY)
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Senior right-hander Joey Wagman earned his record-breaking 13th victory of the season and freshman designated hitter Brian Mundell drove in four runs, one with his 11th home run of the season, as No. 21 Cal Poly defeated San Diego 9-2 in the opening game of the NCAA Division I Los Angeles Regional on Friday at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
In earning their first regional victory in three tries -- Cal Poly lost to Oral Roberts and Kent State in its only other regional appearance, the 2009 Tempe Regional -- the Mustangs collected their 40th victory of the year. Cal Poly has exceeded the 40-win mark just two other times, posting 41 victories in both 1977 and 1992 as a Division II school.
Junior third baseman Jimmy Allen contributed his first four-hit game of the season for Cal Poly, 40-17, who will face No. 9 UCLA (40-17) -- a 5-3 winner over San Diego State -- in the second round Saturday night at 6.
"This is a great way to start off a regional," 11th-year Mustang head coach Larry Lee said. "We are very familiar with all of the teams that are in this regional that has a Southern California flavor.
"We played extremely well," Lee added. "Joey has been our Friday guy the entire time. He just has what it takes. He wants the ball and he wants to be out there in the most important situations."
Wagman, who led the Big West Conference in strikeouts, strikeouts looking and wins during the regular season, threw just 10 innings behind Stanford's Mark Appel, Oregon's Christian Jones and Washington's Steven Swift as a senior at Monte Vista High School four years ago, instead playing in the outfield.
"It's pretty surreal," said Wagman. "You don't really imagine yourself breaking a record like that, especially when it is held by someone as good as Garrett Olson. Obviously, it's a great feeling, but I wouldn't be here without my teammates.
"You saw what they did today -- great defense and great offense -- and my coaching staff calling great pitches for me and preparing me for this moment," Wagman added at the postgame press conference. "It feels great right now."
"You have to give Cal Poly credit," Toreros coach Rich Hill said. "They are the best team we played this season. Wagman is a big-time performer. This is just a little hiccup. We'll play better tomorrow."
Cal Poly jumped on top early with a first-inning two-out home run by Mundell off the batter's eye 405 feet away in center field.
"It was pretty cool to get one out in the first inning and set the momentum in our favor for the rest of the game," said Mundell. "Coach Lee preaches that the team that scores first usually wins, so to get out there and get up 1-0 was really important for us."
Cal Poly is now 17-2 when it scores in the first inning and 31-5 when it scores first in a game this season.
"For me, it felt really good," Mundell added. "I was able to stick to my approach and get a pitch up in the zone. It kind of relaxed me even more the rest of the way. I got the first hit out of the way and I could just go up there the rest of the way knowing that the success I had in the first at-bat, I could just stick to that."
Trailing 2-1, the Mustangs regained the lead with two runs in the fifth on an RBI single by senior second baseman Denver Chavez (pictured above) and a sacrifice fly by Mundell.
Cal Poly broke the game open with a six-run sixth-inning uprising. Mundell singled to drive in two, Allen knocked in two more with a single and, with the bases loaded, freshman shortstop Peter Van Gansen drew a walk and Chavez was hit by a pitch, both collecting RBIs.
Cal Poly has scored six runs in an inning three times, a season high, and is now 32-0 when it leads after six innings.
Wagman (13-3) (left) allowed two runs (one earned) and six hits with three walks and three strikeouts, surpassing Garrett Olson in the Cal Poly record book for wins in a season. Olson notched 12 victories in 2005.
Junior right-hander Chase Johnson pitched a scoreless ninth.
Cal Poly handed freshman southpaw PJ Conlon (9-1) his first loss of the season. Conlon allowed seven runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings with two walks and two strikeouts.
"I kind of struggled with my command and that's basically what I need in order to be successful," said Conlon. "They were a really tough team to pitch to and, if you miss up, they're going to put the barrel on it. They hit one home run and they flew out to the wall a couple times, but they were just a good team. Timely hits -- it came together for them."
Allen produced his first career four-hit game as a Mustang with one double and three singles as Cal Poly outhit San Diego 11-6. Mundell added two hits while sophomore center fielder Jordan Ellis had a double.
"Our offense was much better than it has been in the past, so one down and it is time to get ready for tomorrow," said Lee.
First baseman Connor Joe and catcher Austin Green each had two hits for San Diego. Junior third baseman Kris Bryant, who entered the game with 62 RBI and a nation-leading 31 home runs, went 0-for-3 with a walk.
"I wouldn't necessarily say that he was commanding all of his four pitches, but he made all of them look like a strike," Bryant said of Wagman. "He was battling out there, making the fastball, a good sharp curveball and a changeup work. You don't really see too many right-handers with a changeup, so he had it all going today. You got to tip your hat to him."
Wagman is 22-6 in his last two seasons at Cal Poly, including a 14-1 mark at home.
"I stuck to what I've done all year," said Wagman. "Coming into this game, I tried to make and feel like this game was just another game, even though we all know it means a little bit more.
"Being in the postseason is a great feeling," Wagman added, "but I just tried to keep it as simple as possible and stick to my game."
Cal Poly now leads San Diego 30-28 in the all-time series.
Photos by Scott Wu