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First-Place Cal Poly Resumes Big West Play, Hosts Hawai'i This Weekend

First-Place Cal Poly Resumes Big West Play, Hosts Hawai'i This Weekend
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Cal Poly (20-21 overall, 10-2 Big West), off to a 10-2 start for first place in Big West play with sweeps over CSUN, UC Davis and Long Beach State, resumes conference play this weekend after a stretch of five non-conference contests, hosting Hawai'i (19-22, 7-8 Big West) for a three-game weekend series. Coach Larry Lee's Mustangs and the Rainbow Warriors of 18th-year head coach Mike Trapasso square off Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and a 1 o'clock series finale Sunday inside Baggett Stadium (3,138).
All three games of the series will be broadcast on ESPN Radio (1280 AM and 101.7 FM) with Chris Sylvester providing the play-by-play. Links for live stats and audio and video streams are available on the baseball schedule page at
Cal Poly has won 18 of its last 30 games after a 2-9 start, sweeping Columbia in a four-game series, splitting four games versus Saint Mary's and opening Big West play by sweeping CSUN, losing two of three versus Cal State Fullerton and sweeping UC Davis and Long Beach State on the road. Last weekend, the Mustangs won the middle game of their series against USC, 9-6, as junior right-hander Bobby Ay improved to 6-0 on the year and Tate Samuelson and Nick DiCarlo each had three-hit games. DiCarlo hit his first two home runs as a Mustang in an 8-6 loss at Fresno State on Tuesday night.

Rainbow Warriors Notes

Coming off a 27-24 campaign, including an 11-13 mark for sixth place in the Big West, Hawai'i returned 18 letter winners, including five position starters and 11 pitchers. Top returnees are shortstop Maaki Yamazaki (.325, 19 RBI in 2018), right fielder Adam Fogel (.296, eight home runs, 37 RBI) and second baseman Dustin Demeter (.279, 16 RBI). The pitching staff is led by right-hander Logan Pouelsen (3-2, 5.03 ERA in 2018) and southpaw Dominic DeMiere (2-4, 5.24 ERA). The closer, righty Dylan Thomas (3-2, 1.85 ERA, 14 saves) also returns.
Coached by Trapasso (18th season, 500-491, Oklahoma State '87), who earned his 500th win in a 6-2 decision at Cal Baptist on Tuesday, Hawai'i has a .278 team batting average through 41 games. The Rainbow Warriors have stolen 28 of 35 bases, sport a 4.50 staff ERA and have compiled a .974 fielding percentage with 41 errors in 41 games. The Rainbow Warriors opened their 2019 season by losing five of their first seven games against Portland and Iowa but rebounded with a four-game sweep over Longwood. After a 7-6 win over Oregon on March 7, Hawai'i lost 11 of its next 14 contests versus Oregon, CSU Bakersfield, Ohio State and UC Irvine. The Rainbow Warriors won two of three Big West games at Cal State Fullerton but have lost conference series against UC Irvine, UC Riverside and CSUN. Hawai'i played its first 20 games at home.
Top Rainbow Warrior hitters to date are utility player Daylen Calicdan (.333, nine doubles, 19 RBI), center fielder Scotty Scott (.310, 19 RBI) and Yamazaki (.306, 21 RBI). The pitching staff is led by right-handers Aaron Davenport (2-3, 4.15 ERA) and Cade Smith (2-0, 4.43 ERA) along with lefty Jeremy Wu-Yelland (2-4, 4.63 ERA). Thomas has three saves, a 4-3 mark and 1.91 ERA.
Hawaii's top national ranking is No. 73 in walks allowed per nine innings (3.70). The Rainbow Warriors also are No. 78 infielding percentage (.974) and No. 87 in batting average (.278).
Hawai'i played its first Big West season in baseball in 2013 after 33 years in the Western Athletic Conference, claiming titles in 1991, 1992 and 2011 and the tournament crown in 2010. Cal Poly also played in the WAC in 1995 and 1996 before joining the Big West. The Rainbow Warriors reached the College World Series in 1980, finishing second, and have made 13 NCAA regional appearances.
Trapasso has led the Rainbow Warriors to winning records in 11 of his 18 seasons at the helm and 30 or more wins eight times, the last in 2012. He was named WAC Coach of the Year three times. Trapasso was an assistant coach at Georgia Tech for seven years and at Missouri and South Florida for three seasons each. He was a pitcher at Oklahoma State from 1984-86 and, drafted four times, pitched briefly for two years in the minor leagues.
Cal Poly has a 21-10 advantage over Hawai'i in the series dating back to 1995, sweeping the Rainbow Warriors five years ago in Honolulu as well as in 2015 at Baggett Stadium. Three years ago, the Mustangs overcame a 6-3 loss in the opener with 5-4 and 5-2 victories inside Les Murakami Stadium. In 2017 inside Baggett Stadium, it was a repeat performance, Cal Poly bouncing back from an 11-1 loss in the opener with 15-5 and 7-1 wins. Last spring, the Mustangs won the first two games in Honolulu, 16-0 and 10-9, before dropping the finale 6-2. Larry Lee is 14-4 against Hawai'i while Trapasso is 4-14 against Cal Poly.

Mustangs Update

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. After hitting .517 in the first seven games this season, Beesley has cooled off, sporting a .279 mark with a team-leading 25 RBI.
In addition to Beesley, 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, likely will  miss the 2019 season with a foot injury.
The pitching corps is 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 most of both the 2017 and 2018 seasons 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).
Leading the team 11 weeks into the 2019 season is Samuelson with a .296 average and 22 RBI. Sophomore right fielder Elijah Greene is at .294 with three doubles and 14 RBI while Gurnik, who had a four-hit game three weeks ago against Santa Clara, is hitting .281 with seven doubles and 13 RBI. 
Cal Poly's weekend rotation in the first eight weeks of the 2019 season consisted of senior righty Jarred Zill (2-5, 3.54 ERA), junior right-hander Bobby Ay (6-0, 3.28 ERA) and sophomore right-hander Darren Nelson (2-5, 5.32 ERA). Zill has missed his last three starts due to injury with freshman southpaw Chase Watkins (0-1, 3.38 ERA) stepping in. Freshman Bryan Woo (1-2, 11.57 ERA), also a right-hander, pitched five innings for the win against Columbia on March 9, was Cal Poly's fourth starter in a pair of four-game series and also has started two midweek games.

It's a Wrap

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.
Including this season, the Mustangs have been tormented by slow starts — 3-11 before finishing 28-28 (won seven of last nine games) in 2017, 6-10 before wrapping up the 2018 campaign 30-27 (winning their final seven contests), and 2-9 prior to the Columbia series sweep. Cal Poly also opened the 2015 season 7-14 but rallied to finish 27-27 (winning 17 of its last 26 games).
Cal Poly will play 17 games against 2018 NCAA Regional participants this spring, wrapped up a 12-game home stand three weeks ago with a 6-6 mark, will play 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 — were 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 180 of their last 252 home games for a 71.4 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 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 made 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 (533-412-2) reached the 500-victory milestone on April 20, 2018, with a 5-4 triumph over Long Beach State. His 533 wins to date are No. 2 in the conference behind Fresno State's Bob Bennett (547) and, during the UC Davis series, Lee surpassed Cal Poly alum and former Long Beach State head coach Dave Snow with his 219th conference win. Snow guided the Dirtbags to 218 Big West wins from 1989-2001.
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 993 career wins at Cuesta and Cal Poly, Lee is just seven victories shy of the 1,000 mark.
Next week, Cal Poly hosts Pepperdine on Tuesday, first to complete the March 12 suspended game at 5 p.m. with the Mustangs leading 11-6 in the eighth inning, followed by the regularly scheduled contest at 6 o'clock. Cal Poly then heads to UC Irvine for a three-game Big West series Friday through Sunday (May 10-12).