Cal Poly Mustangs lineup pre-game at NCAA Los Angeles Regional, Credit: Jeff Poirier
The Cal Poly crowd was loud and proud at Jackie Robinson Stadium on Friday night as their Mustangs topped San Diego, 9-2, in the opener of the NCAA Los Angeles Regional. The win lifted No. 22 Cal Poly into the “winners’ pool,” where a matchup with fellow Day 1 winner UCLA awaits tomorrow.
But before the Mustangs could even take the field in Westwood, they were given extra motivation by way of massive mental blunder. The PA announcer at JRS mistakenly called them Cal Poly—Pomona twice, even though this CP team hails from San Luis Obispo. The green-clad fans went ballistic in the stands, while the players stared incredulously at the press box. Whether or not that slight paved the way to a win is unknown, but it certainly put a chip on the Mustangs’ shoulders well before first pitch.
After trouncing the Toreros, Cal Poly finds itself in a good position to compete for the school’s first ever Super Regional appearance. Even if the Stangs fall to the Bruins in their second game, they’ll still be alive in the double-elimination tournament. And, should they beat UCLA, SLO will be in the fast lane heading into Sunday.
Here’s a look at what Cal Poly offers up for competition out of the Big West Conference.
Cal Poly—San Luis Obispo Mustangs
Overall Record: 40-17
Road Record: 16-11
Neutral Site Record: 0-0
Ranking(s): 22 (NCBWA), 23 (Collegiate Baseball), 21 (USA Today Coaches)
Wins vs. Ranked Teams: 3
All-Time Record vs. UCLA: 7-19
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 2 total (first since 2009)
Despite only owning two Regional berths all time, Cal Poly figures to be the Bruins’ biggest threat this weekend. The Mustangs have only been a Division I squad since 1995, posting an overall winning percentage of .505 in the highest tier of college baseball. But that shouldn’t fool you—this Cal Poly team is tough and has been ranked in a number of national polls for a long stretch.
In order for UCLA to improve to 2-0 in this Regional, the offense will need to find its bats against a strong Mustangs rotation. No. 1 starter Joey Wagman, though unavailable for tomorrow, is a legitimate star. After recording the win over San Diego today, Wagman improved to 13-3 on the year with an ERA hovering around 3.00. The pitcher that the Bruins will likely face is Matt Imhof, a sophomore southpaw boasting a 2.52 ERA with a record of 7-3. On top of a solid record, Imhof has registered five no decisions, four of which resulted in Cal Poly wins.
The Bruins’ sometimes anemic offense better not rear its ugly head tomorrow, or it could be a frustrating outing for the home team. Look for starter Nick Vander Tuig to control the pace of the game, preventing the Mustangs from getting the kind of big inning that won them the game today.
Go Bruins! Beat Cal Poly!