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Cal Poly to Visit 2018 CWS Qualifier Washington for Weekend Series

Cal Poly to Visit 2018 CWS Qualifier Washington for Weekend Series
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Cal Poly (2-6 overall, 0-0 Big West), swept by Oklahoma and Cal during the first two weekends of play but twice a winner over Central Coast rival and future Big West Conference member CSU Bakersfield, visits 2018 College World Series qualifier Washington (4-2 overall, 0-0 Pac-12) for a three-game weekend series inside Husky Ballpark (cap.: 2,200).
Coach Larry Lee's Mustangs and the Huskies of 10th-year head coach Lindsay Meggs square off at 4 p.m. Friday (a change from the original schedule to avoid cold weather at night), 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 o'clock Sunday. All three games of the series will be broadcast on ESPN Radio 1280 with Eric Burdick providing the play-by-play. Links for live stats and audio and video streams are available on the baseball schedule page at
Washington, which won a regional at Coastal Carolina and a super regional at Cal State Fullerton last year, went 0-2 in the 2018 College World Series at Omaha with losses to Mississippi State and Oregon State. The Huskies claimed five Pac-10 North titles in a seven-year stretch from 1992-98 and have qualified for 11 NCAA regionals, reaching the College World Series for the first time last spring.
Washington opened the 2019 campaign by losing two of three games at UC Irvine. Last weekend, in a series moved from Seattle to Phoenix due to weather conditions, the Huskies swept Northern Colorado by scores of 25-8, 3-2 and 11-1. Through six games, Washington is hitting .309 as a team with six home runs and 47 runs scored. The Huskies have stolen 10 of 11 bases, sport a 3.94 staff ERA and have committed five errors for a .974 fielding percentage.
Three Huskies own batting averages at or above the .400 mark, led by shortstop Ramon Bramasco at .429. Catcher/designated hitter Nick Kahle is hitting .421 with two home runs and 11 RBI while center fielder Braiden Ward has a .400 mark with three doubles and a pair of triples. Kahle was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection last spring with a .293 average, 20 doubles, six home runs and 37 RBI.
Washington returns 22 letter winners, including five position starters and eight pitchers, off last year's squad which finished 35-26 and placed third in the Pac-12 at 20-10. Top returnees include Ward (.304, 19 steals in 2018), left fielder Mason Cerillo (.341, 76 hits, 21 RBI) and designated hitter Joe Wainhouse (.306, 19 home runs, 61 RBI). Wainhouse was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection. On the pitching staff, right-handers Jordan Jones (6-4, 3.98 ERA) and Stevie Emanuels (9-2, 4.37 ERA) return.
Cal Poly has a 15-7 advantage in the all-time series against Washington dating back to 1969. The Mustangs beat the Huskies twice in a three-game series at Baggett Stadium in 2012 and duplicated the feat in 2013 at Seattle, the last meetings between the two clubs. Cal Poly is 14-7 against Washington since the Mustangs moved to Division I prior to the 1995 season. Larry Lee is 12-6 against Washington while Lindsay Meggs is 2-4 against Cal Poly.
Meggs (10th season at Washington (269-241-1), 26th season overall (884-548-5), UCLA '85) was head coach at Indiana State for three seasons before he was hired as Washington's head coach prior to the 2010 season. He was head coach at Chico State for 13 seasons, where he won NCAA Division II national championships in 1997 and 1999, and also was head coach at Long Beach City College and Oxnard College.
Meggs is a graduate of Saratoga High School and played four seasons as the starting third baseman at UCLA. He hired former Cal Poly pitching coach Jason Kelly to be his pitching coach following the 2012 season. They worked together at Chico State.
Washington has produced such Major Leaguers as pitcher Tim Lincecum (Giants and Angels), catcher Sammy White (Red Sox, Braves and Phillies), first baseman Jake Lamb (Diamondbacks) and third baseman Mike Blowers (five teams).
Lee welcomed back 18 letter winners this spring, including five position players who made 25 or more starts in 2018, and eight pitchers, including three who have made 10 or more career starts.
The list of veterans is led by junior center fielder Bradlee Beesley, who hit .277 with 12 doubles and 33 RBI a year ago, was a second-team All-Big West selection in 2017 after hitting .305 and also had a solid Cape Cod League season with Yarmouth-Dennis last summer, hitting .368.
Also returning are sophomore first baseman Tate Samuelson (.280, five home runs, 38 RBI in 2018), senior shortstop Dylan Doherty and sophomore third baseman Nick DiCarlo, both .226 hitters a year ago. Junior utility player Scott Ogrin, who hit .266 with 26 RBI last spring, will miss at least the first three weeks of the 2019 season with an injury.
The pitching corps will be led by sophomore right-hander Darren Nelson (5-4, 4.79 ERA in 2018), senior righty Jarred Zill (0-1, 3.00 ERA in five starts a year ago), who missed all of 2017 and most of 2018 due to injury, and junior right-hander Bobby Ay (1-6, 5.40 ERA in 2017, made just one appearance in 2018 before he was sidelined with an injury). The starting rotation also could include sophomore righty Taylor Dollard (3-0, 2.43 ERA, three saves in 2018) and freshman southpaw Chase Watkins.
Cal Poly fell to Oklahoma 4-1, 9-3 and 5-2 amid temperatures in the 30s and low 40s with winds at around 20 miles per hour, dropping the wind chill factor into the 20s. Beesley went 7-for-12 at the plate with two doubles and five singles, knocking in three runs. The Mustangs could not get the key hits when needed, leaving 24 runners on the basepaths in the series.
Last weekend, Cal Poly dropped 10-2, 5-4 and 5-3 decisions to Cal inside Baggett Stadium. The Mustangs and Bears were tied 2-2 after two innings Friday and held leads of 4-2 after five innings Saturday and 3-0 after seven innings Sunday, but 2018 Golden Spikes Award winner Andrew Vaughn (two-run home run in third inning Friday, two-run single in seventh inning Saturday) and catcher Korey Lee (two-run double in eighth inning, two-run single in ninth inning Sunday) keyed Cal's comebacks.
The Mustangs completed their midweek series against CSU Bakersfield with a 2-0 victory Tuesday as four pitchers combined on a three-hit shutout, Elijah Greene and Conagher Sands produced RBI singles in the fifth and sixth innings and Cal Poly played errorless defense for the first time this year, notching three double plays. Southpaw Matt Arens (1-0) tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings and right-hander Dylan Villalobos pitched four scoreless frames with seven strikeouts for his first save.
Beesley, 7-for-12 in the Oklahoma series and 6-for-13 against Cal, remains one of the top hitters in the Big West with his .455 batting average with three doubles and seven RBI. Second baseman Connor Gurnik is hitting .316 and right fielder Elijah Greene .303.
A year ago, the Mustangs were No. 1 in the Big West in team hitting, on-base percentage, hits, doubles, triples, walks and turning double plays. Twenty of Cal Poly's 24 Big West games were decided by four or fewer runs. The Mustangs defeated UC Davis 16-0 and the three remaining games were six-run decisions, Cal Poly winning twice, and the Mustangs won six of 13 weekend series, sweeping Dartmouth, Long Beach State, UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside.
Cal Poly will play 17 games against 2018 NCAA Regional participants this spring, has a 12-game home stand in late March and early April, 30 home games in all and will play 10 contests against Pac-12 schools — three-game series against Cal and USC at home and versus College World Series participant Washington and a single game against Stanford on the road. The Mustangs' first three series on the road this season — at Oklahoma, Washington and Baylor — are against teams that earned regional berths a year ago along with Cal State Fullerton, Saint Mary's and Stanford.
Cal Poly has had just three losing seasons since 2000 and has reached the 30-win mark 12 times this century. The Mustangs have won 168 of their last 231 home games for a 72.7 winning percentage.
Cal Poly, which earned NCAA regional berths in 2009, 2013 and 2014, captured its first Big West championship in 2014 and has five second-place finishes, four thirds and six fourths since becoming a member of the conference in 1997. Cal Poly has finished in the top five of the Big West standings 14 times in Lee's previous 16 seasons with the Mustangs. Cal State Fullerton is the only other Big West team that can make the same claim.
While all 56 Mustang games in 2017 were played in the Golden State, Cal Poly played four games in a tournament at Surprise, Ariz., visited Nebraska for a four-game series and traveled to Hawai'i for a three-game Big West series in 2018. In addition to Oklahoma and Washington, the Mustangs make another out-of-state trip to Baylor this spring.
Over the last seven seasons from 2012-18, Cal Poly has won 240 games, the third-highest total among the 24 California schools with Division I programs. Averaging 35 wins per season during those seven campaigns, the victory total is eighth among 46 schools in the NCAA's West Region. In addition, from 2012-14, Cal Poly averaged 41 wins a year with 123 victories, more than any other Division I team in California, and the Mustangs have averaged 32.5 victories per season under Lee's guidance.
Lee (515-397-2) reached the 500-victory milestone last April 20 with a 5-4 triumph over Long Beach State. His 514 wins to date are No. 2 in the conference behind Fresno State's Bob Bennett (547) and Lee's 212 conference wins also are No. 2 in the Big West behind Long Beach State's Dave Snow (218).
Lee surpassed Berdy Harr (297-249-6 from 1973-83) as Cal Poly's winningest head baseball coach during the Pacific series in 2011. Lee earned 460 wins in 16 seasons at Cuesta College and notched his 460th Mustang victory on March 13, 2017 against Gonzaga. With 975 career wins at Cuesta and Cal Poly, Lee is just 25 victories shy of the 1,000 mark.
Next week, Cal Poly does not have a midweek game and hosts Columbia from the Ivy League for a four-game weekend series inside Baggett Stadium. Game times are 6 p.m. Friday, a 1 p.m. doubleheader Saturday and a noon finale Sunday.
Photo of Jarred Zill at top of page courtesy of Nathan Nybakke |