Cal Poly to Host CSU Bakersfield for Three-Game Non-Conference Series
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SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Cal Poly (27-19, 10-8 Big West), which has won six of 11 weekend series, including four sweeps, and is in fourth place in the Big West Conference standings, takes a break from Big West play this weekend by hosting CSU Bakersfield (19-23, Independent) for a three-game non-conference series in Baggett Stadium (cap.: 1,734).
First pitches are set for 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. All three games of the series will be aired live on ESPN Radio 1280 with Tom Barket providing the play-by-play. Audio and video streams as well as live stats will be available on www.gopoly.com.
Cal Poly returned 16 letter winners, including five position starters and five pitchers, off its 2011 squad which finished 27-26 overall and third in the Big West at 15-9. The Mustangs started the year 0-6 before winning 27 of their next 44 games.
Cal Poly jumped to much better 7-1 and 20-10 starts in 2012 with series sweeps against Oklahoma State (3-0), Loyola Marymount (4-0) and UC Irvine (3-0) as well as series wins over Washington (2-1) and San Diego State (3-1). The Mustangs, 7-1 in February, posted a 10-8 record in March, including series losses to Minnesota and Long Beach State, and finished April with an 8-8 mark after sweeping a three-game Big West series at home against Pacific.
Cal Poly opened May with a walk-off 10-inning 2-1 victory over Pepperdine last Tuesday night as Jimmy Allen belted a first-pitch fastball some 390 feet over the left-center field wall with two out, but the Mustangs dropped two of three Big West games at UC Davis over the weekend. The Aggies sandwiched 5-4 wins around a 12-7 Mustang victory Saturday. Cal Poly hit .310 and outscored UC Davis 20-17, but the Aggies hit .350 in the series.
The win Saturday was the 300th for Larry Lee as head coach of the Mustangs. Lee (300-251-2) 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).
After sweeping UC Irvine on April 5-7 to improve to 20-10 on the year, Cal Poly won just two of its next nine games -- eight of the nine games on the road -- and is 20-18 since its 7-1 start in late February.
CSU Bakersfield, playing at Nebraska and North Carolina State the last two weekends, was swept by the Wolfpack and has lost eight of its last 12 games since sweeping Santa Clara at home to level its record at 15-15 in early April.
Cal Poly's top hitter through 46 games is sophomore third baseman Jimmy Allen with a .353 average, 12 doubles, three home runs, 33 RBI and nine stolen bases, extending his hitting streak to seven games. Allen produced a pair of seven-game streaks earlier this season.
Senior shortstop Mike Miller sports a .350 mark with 12 doubles, four triples, three home runs, 29 RBI and 45 runs scored. He had a 14-game hitting streak earlier this season. Junior center fielder Mitch Haniger is hitting .343 and leads the Mustangs and the Big West with 11 home runs, 51 RBI, a .624 slugging percentage, 111 total bases and five sacrifice flies.
Sophomore designated hitter/first baseman Tim Wise was 7-for-15 with three doubles, a home run, five runs scored and three RBI to lift his batting average to .298. He has a five-game hitting streak and has reach base safely in 22 consecutive contests.
CSU Bakersfield, coached by Bill Kernen (fourth season at CSU Bakersfield (91-112), 11th overall (331-268-3), Redlands '70), returned 14 lettermen, including six position starters and six pitchers, off a team which went 33-22 a year ago, the school's third season fielding a baseball team.
Top hitters so far in 2012 for the Roadrunners are middle infielder Oscar Sanay (.335, 17 RBI, six steals), catcher Cael Brockmeyer (.295, 11 doubles, five home runs, 25 RBI) and shortstop Tyler Shryock (.281, 24 RBI). The pitching staff is led by right-handers Spenser Messmore (3-4, 1.83 ERA) and Scott Brattvet (4-4, 4.39 ERA) and southpaw Jeff McKenzie (4-4, 2.44 ERA). The closer is right-hander Hayden Carter (1-3, 4.21 ERA, two saves).
CSU Bakersfield is hitting .263 this season, has compiled a 3.56 staff ERA and has committed 70 errors in 42 games for a .958 fielding percentage.
Cal Poly and CSU Bakersfield have met 10 times on the baseball field since the series began in 2009. The Mustangs hold a 6-4 advantage in the series, winning six of the first seven before the Roadrunners swept Cal Poly by scores of 3-1, 10-3 and 3-1 on the final weekend of the 2011 season at Hardt Field.
Cal Poly is 6-3 against West Coast Conference schools this season, sweeping a four-game series against Loyola Marymount and beating San Francisco 11-9 on March 4 and Pepperdine in 10 innings 2-1 on May 1 while losing twice to Santa Clara 5-2 and 11-6 in the first three weeks of the season.
Cal Poly was ranked No. 22 by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper after its 7-1 start and No. 27 four weeks ago after sweeping UC Irvine.
A year ago Cal Poly posted its sixth winning season in the last eight years, and a third-place finish in the highly competitive Big West Conference at 15-9. The Mustangs have finished in the upper half of the league standings eight times in the last 10 years. Cal Poly was 7-4 against top-25 teams in 2011 and finished 19-7 at home.
Cal Poly is 14-1 on Saturday, 5-1 in shutouts, 25-1 when leading after eight innings, 20-5 when outhitting its foes and 18-5 when making fewer errors than the opposition this season. The Mustangs' 12-7 win at UC Davis on May 5 marked the first time Cal Poly won a game in 14 tries this season when trailing after six innings.
Next week, Cal Poly plays a single game Tuesday night at 6 at CSU Bakersfield before returning home to host UC Santa Barbara on Friday through Sunday (6, 1 and 1 p.m.).