WEEKLY NOTES: CAL POLY | SACRAMENTO STATE
SAN LUIS OBISPO REGIONAL CENTRAL
NCAA TOURNAMENT CENTRAL
MUSTANGS NAB THREE TOP BIG WEST AWARDS
LIVE STATS | AUDIO STREAM | VIDEO STREAM
BRACKETS: SAN LUIS OBISPO REGIONAL | NCAA
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Cal Poly (45-10, 19-5 Big West), competing in an NCAA regional for the third time in the last six years, will host a postseason Division I baseball event for the first time this weekend, joining Sacramento State (39-22, 21-6 WAC), Arizona State (33-22, 19-11 Pac-12) and Pepperdine (39-16, 18-9 West Coast) in the four-team double-elimination San Luis Obispo Regional at Baggett Stadium (cap.: 3,046).
Coach Larry Lee's No. 1-seeded Mustangs will face No. 4 Sacramento State on Friday at 6 p.m., following the first game between No. 2 Arizona State and No. 3 Pepperdine at 1 o'clock. The Cal Poly game will be aired live on ESPN Radio 1280 with Tom Barket providing the play-by-play. Links for live stats as well as audio and video streams (ESPN3, Roxy Bernstein/Wes Clements) are available at www.GoPoly.com.
Two more games in the San Luis Obispo Regional are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at 1 and 6 p.m., with another contest, if necessary, slated for Monday at 6 p.m.
Ranked No. 5 in the Collegiate Baseball, Baseball America and Perfect Game polls and No. 6 by USA Today/ESPN and the National College Baseball Writers Association, Cal Poly closed the regular season with a 4-0 week, beating Saint Mary's 6-5 and sweeping a three-game series at Cal State Northridge to clinch its first Big West title in 18 years as a member of the conference.
The win at Saint Mary's was Cal Poly's 42nd of the year, an all-time school record. The Mustangs won 13 of 14 series of three games or more this season and split two games in a rain-shortened series at USC. The Mustangs also won nine of their 10 midweek games, including two shutouts against Santa Clara.
Entering the postseason, the Mustangs are hitting .300, best in the Big West, and have outscored the opposition 333-184 while the pitching staff has compiled a 2.98 ERA with 467 strikeouts and 183 walks in 490 innings. Cal Poly is No. 2 in the NCAA in winning percentage, No. 4 in strikeouts per nine innings, No. 8 with 10 shutouts and No. 12 in fielding percentage.
Sacramento State won the Western Athletic Conference regular-season title, lost the opener in the WAC tournament and then won four straight games to claim the automatic berth in the NCAA regionals, defeating Utah Valley twice by identical 10-3 scores in the championship round. The Hornets were 8-11 in mid-March before putting together a 12-game winning streak with series sweeps against Northern Colorado, New Mexico State and Seattle. Sacramento State also swept Chicago State and North Dakota during conference play.
Cal Poly won 18 consecutive home games, including the final seven of the 2013 season, before Cal snapped the streak March 22. The Mustangs are 27-3 at home this season and have won 97 of their last 123 home games for a winning percentage of 78.9 percent. At 17-3 on March 16, Cal Poly posted the program's second-best 20-game start in its 110-year history. The 1997 Mustangs opened the year 18-2. The current squad also produced its best-ever 30-game start at 25-5, exceeding the 23-7 start by the 2009 team, 22-8 opening by the 2013 squad and 21-9 start of the 1997 club.
Cal Poly's top hitters after 55 games are sophomore second baseman Mark Mathias (.378, 36 RBI, has hit safely in 41 of his last 44 games), junior right fielder Nick Torres (.323, 16 doubles, five home runs, 47 RBI), junior outfielder Zack Zehner (.329, seven doubles, 15 RBI), senior catcher Chris Hoo (.320, 13 doubles, 37 RBI) and senior third baseman Jimmy Allen (.301, 13 doubles, three triples, five home runs, 37 RBI).
Allen has claimed a pair of all-time school records in his four-year Mustang career, moving ahead of Ozzie Smith in career at-bats (808), Luke Yoder in career doubles (56) and Jon Macalutas in career hits (248). Allen also is No. 8 in career RBIs (135) and tied with Dan Marple and Steve Rohlmeier at No. 10 in career triples (10).
In addition, junior closer Reed Reilly is No. 1 in career saves (25), No. 2 in career appearances (82) and No. 4 in career ERA (2.29) while junior starter Matt Imhof (pictured above) is No. 6 with 246 career strikeouts.
Mathias has gone 70-for-171 (.409) during his run of hitting safely in 41 of his last 44 games, including a 17-game hitting streak snapped in April and a 14-game streak halted in May.
The Mustangs had a 12-game winning streak -- longest in a single season in Cal Poly history -- snapped in the Long Beach State series. A 14-game winning streak was compiled by the 2012 (last seven games of season) and 2013 (first seven games) squads at Cal Poly. The Mustangs are 6-3 against the Pac-12, 3-0 against the Big 12, 5-1 against the West Coast, 5-1 against the WAC and 2-0 versus the Mountain West this season.
Sacramento State, 34-25 a year ago and 14-13 for fifth place in the Western Athletic Conference, returned 15 letter winners, including seven position starters and four pitchers. Coached by Reggie Christiansen (fourth season at Sacramento State (123-114, eight season overall (230-255), Menlo College '98), the Hornets sport a .286 team batting average, led by right fielder Nathan Lukes (.357, nine doubles, three triples, 23 RBI, 10 steals), first baseman Rhys Hoskins (.330, 18 doubles, 12 home runs, 53 RBI) and left fielder Kyle Moses (.324, nine doubles, 17 RBI, 12 steals). The Hornets have compiled a 3.21 staff ERA and have committed 62 errors in 61 games, a .974 fielding percentage.
Sacramento State, which moved to Division I in 1990, is making its first NCAA regional appearance. The Hornets qualified for the Division II playoffs four times.
Christiansen was associate head coach under John Smith at Sacramento State in 2009 and 2010. Before that, he was head coach for four seasons at South Dakota State, compiling a 96-113 record. Christiansen was an assistant under former Cal Poly head coach Ritch Price at Kansas for two seasons and coached four seasons at Menlo College, including one as head coach. He earned his bachelor's degree at Menlo in 1998 and his master's at Kansas in 2004.
Freshman southpaw Sam Long (8-1, 2.86 ERA) will face Imhof on the mound Friday. Long has struck out 46 batters with 24 walks in 88 innings, opponents are hitting .234 and he has pitched a pair of complete-game shutouts against New Mexico State and Utah Valley. Long's only loss was to Oregon State in an 8-1 decision April 22.
Cal Poly and Sacramento State have met 58 times on the baseball field since the series began back in 1950. The Mustangs hold a 43-15 advantage, but the two California schools have not met since 2009 when Cal Poly swept a three-game series against the Hornets at Baggett Stadium. Sacramento State was a member of the Big West Conference from 1997-2002. Cal Poly is 31-12 against Sacramento State since the Mustangs moved to Division I prior to the 1995 season. Larry Lee is 7-1 against Sacramento State while Reggie Christiansen is 0-0 against Cal Poly.
Seven weeks ago, Cal Poly reached the 30-win mark for the 10th time in the last 15 years and has already clinched its 12th winning season since 2000. The Mustangs are 35 games above the .500 mark for the first time in their 20-year Division I history. Cal Poly has won 13 of 14 series of three games or more this season (seven sweeps) -- the only series loss was to Long Beach State in late April -- and 32 of 43 series, including 18 sweeps, over the last three years.
The current squad is the fourth in Cal Poly history to win 40 or more games. The 1977 and 1992 Mustang squad won 41 games while last year's team finished 40-19.
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 (394-282-2) 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).
The San Luis Obispo Regional is matched up with the Fort Worth Regional in the 64-team bracket. The Fort Worth Regional includes No. 7 national seed Texas Christian along with Siena, Sam Houston State and Dallas Baptist.