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February 26, 2014

First Two Games at USC Washed Out; Doubleheader Set for Sunday

UPDATE (2:45 p.m. Saturday): Saturday's Cal Poly baseball game at USC's Dedeaux Field (right) has been called off due to wet weather. The two teams, also rained out Friday, will play a 12:30 p.m. doubleheader Sunday. Return to this page for further updates.

WEEKLY NOTES: CAL POLY | USC | BIG WEST
SLATER LEE NAMED BIG WEST PITCHER OF THE WEEK
MUSTANGS JUMP INTO TOP 20 IN NATIONAL POLLS
LIVE STATS | VIDEO STREAM
AUDIO STREAM -- SATURDAY | SUNDAY GAME 1 | SUNDAY GAME 2

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Cal Poly (7-1), ranked No. 13 in the Baseball America poll and No. 14 by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper this week following last weekend's series win at defending national champion UCLA, continues its stretch of 11 of 12 games on the road and returns to the Southland this weekend, visiting No. 29 Southern California (7-1) at Dedeaux Field (cap.: 2,500).

Game times, weather permitting, are 6 p.m. both Friday and Saturday (a change from earlier schedules) and 1 p.m. Sunday. All three games of the non-conference contest will be aired live on ESPN Radio 1280 or on the Internet at www.GoPoly.com with Eric Burdick calling the play-by-play. Links for live stats as well as audio and video streams will be available at www.GoPoly.com.

Cal Poly beat San Jose State 5-3 Tuesday night as senior third baseman Jimmy Allen collected three hits, junior right fielder Nick Torres belted his third home run and freshman right-hander Justin Calomeni picked up his second with by retiring the last 10 batters he faced after giving up three runs and five hits in the first two innings. Calomeni struck out seven in five innings of work.

Last weekend, UCLA won the series opener Friday night, 5-2, but Cal Poly bounced back with 8-0 and 9-1 victories to earn its first series win over the Bruins since 2005. Freshman right-hander Slater Lee pitched a two-hit shutout Saturday and Brian Mundell and Nick Torres both belted three-run home runs. On Sunday, Mundell and Torres combined for five hits and five RBI as the Mustangs jumped to an 8-1 lead in the first four innings and coasted.

Off to a 7-1 start, Cal Poly scored 18 runs on 33 hits for a .324 team batting average in the Kansas State series while the pitching staff held the Wildcats to just three runs and 11 hits with 33 strikeouts for a 1.00 ERA. Against UCLA, Cal Poly outscored the Bruins 19-6, outhit UCLA 26-19 and the pitching staff posted a 1.73 ERA with just five walks and 19 strikeouts.

Eight games into the season, the Mustangs are hitting .289 and have outscored the opposition 50-12 while the pitching staff has compiled a Big West-leading 1.39 ERA with 79 strikeouts and 17 walks in 71 innings.

USC swept three-game series against Northwestern and North Dakota State sandwiched around a 6-1 win over Cal State Fullerton. The Trojans suffered their first loss of the season Tuesday at Long Beach State, 2-1.

Cal Poly, 40-19 a year ago for its first 40-win season in Division I and third overall, returns 19 letter winners, including eight position starters and seven pitchers, off its 2013 squad which swept five series and won 10 of 15 weekend series. Coach Larry Lee's Mustangs went 1-2 in the Los Angeles Regional hosted by UCLA, falling to the Bruins 6-4 on the second day. UCLA went on to capture its first national title.

Cal Poly won its first seven games of the 2013 season and sprinted to a 13-1 start. Never losing more than three games in a row, Cal Poly steadily climbed 17 games over the .500 mark during the next seven weeks of play. A late-season surge with 11 wins in their last 14 games enabled the Mustangs to post their third 40-win season in school history, falling one victory shy of the record of 41 wins in both 1977 and 1992. The Mustangs finished second in the Big West for the second straight year.

Topping Cal Poly's list of returnees are senior third baseman Jimmy Allen (.299, 39 RBI) and junior relief pitcher Reed Reilly (2.29 ERA, 14 saves), both of whom were drafted last June but chose to return to Cal Poly for another season.

Also returning are outfielders Nick Torres (.333, seven home runs, 49 RBI) and Jordan Ellis (.323, 18 RBI), infielders Tim Wise, Peter Van Gansen and John Schuknecht, catcher Chris Hoo and designated hitter Brian Mundell (.265, 11 home runs, 42 RBI).

Joining Reilly on the pitching staff are starters Matt Imhof (7-3, 2.74 ERA), Casey Bloomquist (pictured above) (6-2, 5.02 ERA) and Bryan Granger (5-4, 5.37 ERA) and relievers Taylor Chris (1-0, 2.55 ERA) and Danny Zandona (2-1, 4.50 ERA), among others.

USC, 20-36 a year ago and 10-20 for eighth place in the Pac-12 Conference, returns 23 letter winners, including seven position starters and 12 pitchers. Top returnees include infielder Kevin Swick (.305 in 2013), infielder Blake Lacey (.291, 26 RBI) and outfielder Timmy Robinson (.242, 23 RBI). Right-hander Wyatt Strahan (4-3, 2.45 ERA in 2013) and southpaw Bob Wheatley (3-4, 2.78) also return, along with righty closer Nigel Nootbaar (2-6, 5.10 ERA, three saves).

Coached by Dan Hubbs (second year, 27-37, USC), Southern Cal has a .288 team batting average through eight games, led by outfielder/designated hitter AJ Ramirez (.409, four RBI), first baseman Jake Hernandez (.375, three RBI) and catcher/designated hitter Jeremy Martinez (.353, three RBI). The Trojans sport a 1.98 staff ERA and .992 fielding percentage with just three errors in eight games.

USC has captured 12 national titles in baseball, the last in 1998, and has won 208 postseason games. The Trojans have appeared in 21 College World Series, the last in 2001, and made its 40th regional appearance in 2005.

Hubbs, associate head coach at USC in 2012, was elevated to head coach on February 13, 2013, the sixth head baseball coach at USC since 1930. Hubbs spent 12 seasons as the pitching coach at California before coming to USC. Hubbs was a three-year (1991-93) letterman at USC and currently ranks fourth on the Trojans' career saves list (22) and eighth on the career strikeouts per inning chart (9.19). He posted a career record of 19-13 with a 3.58 ERA in 81 appearances (64 in relief).

Cal Poly and USC have played 27 baseball games against each other since the series began in 1953. The Trojans hold a 22-5 advantage, including a 5-2 victory in 2011 at Dedeaux Field as part of the USC Tournament. That game was shortened to five innings due to rain. Cal Poly's last win over USC was a 10-6 decision in the middle game of a three-game series opening the 2010 season at Baggett Stadium. Larry Lee is 2-7 against USC while Hubbs is 0-0 against Cal Poly.

Cal Poly's top hitters after eight games are junior right fielder Nick Torres (14-for-33, .424, 13 RBI), sophomore designated hitter Brian Mundell (10-for-25, .400, 11 RBI) and senior third baseman Jimmy Allen (11-for-33, six RBI). Senior first baseman/left fielder Tim Wise is close to the .300 mark at .296.

A year ago, Cal Poly surpassed the 30-win mark for the ninth time in the last 14 years and clinched its 11th winning season since 2000 by sweeping UC Riverside in early May. The Mustangs moved 21 games above the .500 mark for the first time in their 19-year Division I history by sweeping Cal State Northridge on May 17-19. Cal Poly was 13-1 on the year after sweeping a doubleheader at Kansas State by 13-10 and 6-2 scores in early March.

Lee, in his 12th season with the Mustangs, has guided Cal Poly to five 3-0 starts with season-opening series sweeps over San Diego in 2005, Fresno State in 2006, Oklahoma State in 2012, San Francisco last year and Kansas State this season. The Mustangs have finished in the upper half of the conference standings 10 times in the last 12 years.

Lee (356-273-2) earned his 300th win on May 5, 2012, in a 12-7 decision at UC Davis. Lee 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).

Next week, Cal Poly hosts Santa Clara on Tuesday at 6 p.m., then plays the third of three consecutive weekend series on the road Friday through Sunday at Seattle.