SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Cal Poly (1-2, 0-0 Big West), which won its season opener but dropped the next two games of a three-game series at California last weekend, will play four more games in Northern California this weekend, starting with a makeup game Thursday night at Stanford (1-2, 0-0 Pac-12) and continuing with a three-game series Friday through Sunday at Pacific (1-2, 0-0 West Coast).
First pitch at Sunken Diamond (cap.: 4,000) against the Cardinal is set for 7 p.m. The two teams were to meet Monday at Baggett Stadium in San Luis Obispo, but the President's Day game was postponed due to rain. Links for live stats and audio and video streams are available on the baseball schedule page at www.GoPoly.com.
The series at Klein Family Field (cap.: 2,500) opens Friday at 6 p.m., followed by a 2 p.m. contest Saturday and 1 o'clock on Sunday. All three games of the series will be aired live on ESPN Radio 1280 with Eric Burdick providing the play-by-play. Live stats and audio and video streams also will be available.
Despite having 25 freshmen and sophomores on the roster a year ago, including as many as six true freshmen and a community college transfer in the starting lineup, Cal Poly posted a 32-25 mark a year ago and won nine of 15 weekend series, including victories over No. 14 UCLA and No. 19 Michigan and a sweep against College World Series participant UC Santa Barbara.
Eight position players who started at least 27 games a year ago return and the pitching rotation features all four returning starters off the 2016 squad, including weekend starters Erich Uelmen (5-3, 3.68 ERA), Kyle Smith (6-6, 3.64 ERA) and Jarred Zill (4-3, 2.79 ERA). The trio will make up the rotation for this weekend's series against the Tigers. Sophomore right-hander Cam Schneider also returns after starting seven games a year ago.
Sophomore right-hander Bobby Ay (1-1, 5.91 ERA a year ago) (pictured above) will start against Stanford sophomore southpaw Kris Bubic, who allowed a run and two hits over six innings with 10 strikeouts in a 1-0 loss to Cal State Fullerton last week.
Stanford is coming off a 31-23 campaign, including a 15-15 mark for sixth place in the Pac-12. The Cardinal return 22 lettermen, including seven of the nine position starters and five pitchers who started six or more games a year ago along with closer Colton Hock (4-5, 2.03 ERA, six saves).
Coached by Mark Marquess (41st season, 1,586-864-7, Stanford '69), Stanford hit .252 a year ago, led by catcher Alex Dunlap (.292, 13 doubles, four home runs, 21 RBI). Dunlap is back along with outfielder Quinn Brodey (.280, seven home runs, 41 RBI) and first baseman Matt Winaker (.254, nine doubles, 23 RBI).
Stanford's storied baseball history includes two College World Series titles, 16 CWS appearances, 29 NCAA Regional berths, 17 conference titles, 82 winning seasons in 123 years, six 50-plus seasons, 54 All-Americans, 33 U.S. National Team members, seven Olympians and 25 Major League Baseball first-round picks.
Stanford owns a 46-6 advantage in its series against Cal Poly. Last meeting was in 2011, a 3-1 Mustang victory at Sunken Diamond. The Cardinal and Mustangs also played the first game inside Baggett Stadium on Jan. 21, 2001, Cal Poly claiming a 6-5 victory in 12 innings.
Last weekend, Stanford opened its 2017 season with a three-game series at Cal State Fullerton. The Titans posted 1-0 and 8-1 victories before the Cardinal rallied from a 6-0 deficit to claim the finale in 11 innings, 7-6.
Coming off a 22-30 record in Mike Nue's first season at Pacific, the Tigers opened their 2017 campaign at San Diego State, winning the middle game 5-1 as Will Lydon scattered seven hits and allowed one unearned run over 6 2/3 innings. The Aztecs won the opener 11-5 and the finale 11-0.
Pacific has 19 returning lettermen, including five position starters and seven pitchers. Top returnees include outfielder Danny Mayer (.314, 16 doubles, 15 home runs, 40 RBI) and designated hitter Lucas Halstead (.313, 13 doubles, five home runs, 25 RBI). The pitching staff is paced by Lydon (3-9, 4.52 ERA), a senior right-hander, and sophomore southpaw Ricky Reynoso (3-4, 4.76 ERA). Closer Vince Arobio (2-1, 3.12 ERA, six saves), a senior righty, also returns.
Nue (second season, 23-32, Miami), pitching coach at Cal for four seasons before he was hired at Pacific in 2016, replaced Ed Sprague, Olympic gold medalist (1988) and 11-year Major League veteran who coached the Tigers for 12 seasons.
The Tigers are in their fourth year of play in the West Coast Conference after being a member of the Big West Conference for 29 years. Pacific never claimed a Big West title and posted just seven winning seasons and three more .500 campaigns during their Big West Conference membership from 1985 through 2013.
Cal Poly and Pacific have met 82 times on the baseball field since the series began in 1946. The Mustangs hold a 50-32 advantage, beating the Tigers 31 of the last 39 times and 37 of 49, taking the series 16 straight years including a four-game season-opening sweep a year ago in Baggett Stadium. Cal Poly is 41-20 against Pacific since the Mustangs moved to Division I prior to the 1995 season.
Cal Poly's 2017 roster is led by eight returning position starters (at least 27 starts in 2016) and eight pitchers who tossed 20 or more innings in 2016.
Outfielder Josh George (.306, seven doubles, 16 RBI) and catcher Nick Meyer (.301, seven doubles, 21 RBI) both hit above the .300 mark a year ago. Meyer was a second-team All-Big West selection and also was named Big West Freshman Field Player of the Year after picking off a Big West-leading 10 runners and throwing out 22 would-be base stealers, second in the conference.
Middle infielder Kyle Marinconz (.284, 15 doubles, 25 RBI), an All-Big West honorable mention, joined Meyer on Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American Team. Third baseman Michael Sanderson (.296, 12 doubles, 33 RBI), outfielder Kevin Morgan (.269, 15 RBI), outfielder Alex McKenna (.261, six home runs, 27 RBI) and shortstop Brett Binning (.225) also return.
A pair of true freshmen -- shortstop Bradlee Beesley (.407, 19 RBI at San Leandro High School) and outfielder Scott Ogrin (.412, 18 RBI at Valencia High School) -- were in the starting lineup on Opening Day along with community college transfer Elijah Skipps (Cypress College) at first base.
A year ago Cal Poly earned its 14th winning season since 2000 and reached the 30-win mark for the 11th time this century. The Mustangs were 23-8 at home last season and have won 134 of their last 176 home games for a winning percentage of 76.1 percent.
Cal Poly, which earned NCAA regional berths in 2009, 2013 and 2014, has finished fourth or higher in the Big West 12 times in its last 14 seasons, including back-to-back fourth-place finishes after capturing its first Big West championship in 2014.
Lee (456-338-2) earned his 400th win March 7, 2015, at Pacific and surpassed Berdy Harr (297-249-6 from 1973-83) as Cal Poly's winningest head baseball coach during the Pacific series in 2011. Lee's previous 14 clubs at Cal Poly have averaged 32.5 wins per season.
Cal Poly's 2017 schedule also includes a three-game series at UCLA in late April. The schedule features 14 games against 2016 NCAA regional qualifiers, a 12-game home stand in March and 28 contests in all inside Baggett Stadium. All 56 Mustang games this spring will be played in the Golden State.
Next week, the Mustangs, playing their first 11 contests on the road, play a single game at Santa Clara on Tuesday and a three-game series at San Diego State next Friday through Sunday.