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Cal Poly Opens 30-Game Home Schedule With Weekend Series Versus Cal

Cal Poly Opens 30-Game Home Schedule With Weekend Series Versus Cal
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Cal Poly (1-3 overall, 0-0 Big West), which bounced back from being swept at Oklahoma last weekend with a victory at CSU Bakersfield on Tuesday, opens its 30-game home schedule Friday night with the first of three games against California (1-3 overall, 0-0 Pac-12).
Coach Larry Lee's Mustangs and the Golden Bears of second-year head coach Mike Neu square off Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 1 o'clock. All three games of the series will be broadcast on ESPN Radio 1280 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
Coming off a 32-22 campaign, including a 16-14 mark for fifth place in the Pac-12 Conference, Cal returns 18 letter winners, including six position starters and seven pitchers. Top returnee is first baseman Andrew Vaughn, 2018 Golden Spikes Award winner, National Player of the Year as chosen by Perfect Game/Rawlings and a consensus All-American after hitting .402 with 14 doubles, 23 home runs and 63 RBI in 54 games.
Also back are sophomore second baseman Darren Baker (.273, 23 RBI in 2018) and junior outfielder Max Flower (.287, 30 RBI). Topping the pitching staff are right-handers Jared Horn (5-5, 6.15 ERA in 2018) and Rogelio Reyes (3-2, 8.26 ERA) along with southpaw Arman Sabouri (5-2, 3.07 ERA), all juniors.
Cal dropped its first three games in the Angels College Classic held in Tempe, Ariz., over the weekend, falling 4-3 to CSU Bakersfield, 7-5 to Pepperdine and 9-5 to Northwestern before defeating BYU 10-6 on Monday. Vaughn was 5-for-11 with five RBI, including a two-run home run against Pepperdine and a solo blast versus BYU.
Cal placed fifth in the 2011 NCAA College World Series, claimed CWS titles in 1947 and 1957, has appeared in the NCAA postseason 13 times, has reached the College World Series six times and last won a conference title in 1980.
Cal made an initial decision in September 2010 to discontinue the baseball program due to pressure on the university's budget. Following a fundraising effort that generated approximately $10 million in commitment, Golden Bear baseball was reinstated April 8, 2011.
Cal Poly and Cal have met 54 times on the baseball field since the series began in 1948. The Bears hold a 38-16 advantage, winning two of three games over the Mustangs in a series opening the 2017 season at Evans Diamond. Cal Poly won three of four games in a 2014 series at Baggett Stadium, the year the Mustangs captured the Big West title. Cal is 10-9 against Cal Poly since the Mustangs moved to Division I prior to the 1995 season.
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. Junior center fielder Bradlee Beesley went 7-for-12 at the plate with two doubles and five singles, knocking in three runs. He is the Big West leader in hitting one weekend into the season with a .583 average.
The offense produced a .248 batting average, the pitching staff allowed 4.88 earned runs per contest and the defense committed eight errors, including five in the Saturday contest. The Mustangs could not get the key hits when needed, leaving 24 runners on the basepaths in the series.
Cal Poly earned its first win of the year Tuesday with a 7-1 decision at CSU Bakersfield. Beesley (pictured above) added two more hits and three additional RBI to his early-season totals and is now 9-for-16 (.563) with six RBI in four games. Bryan Woo pitched four-plus scoreless innings and combined with three relievers on a three-hitter and 13 strikeouts while the Mustang hitters drew 13 walks en route to their eighth straight win over the Runners.
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 seven contests against Pac-12 schools — three-game series against Cal and College World Series participant Washington and a single game at Stanford. The Mustangs' first three series on the road this season — at Oklahoma, Washington and Baylor — all 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, the Mustangs make out-of-state trips to Washington and 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 (514-394-2) reached the 500-victory milestone last April 20 with a 5-4 triumph over Long Beach State. His 513 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 973 career wins at Cuesta and Cal Poly, Lee enters the 2019 campaign just 27 victories shy of the 1,000 mark.
Next week, Cal Poly and CSU Bakersfield play their midweek rematch on Tuesday at 6 p.m. inside Baggett Stadium before the Mustangs head back out on the road for a three-game weekend series at Washington.