Amelia Parreira is a journalism senior and Mustang News columnist. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints or editorial coverage of Mustang News.
The Cal Poly baseball team just took the series against the University of Hawaii, one of the toughest teams in the Big West Conference, with wins on Saturday and Sunday. Now the Mustangs must prepare to face their rivals, the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) Gauchos, who currently hold the No. 1 spot in conference. There is no doubt that this coming weekend will be intense and exciting.
But do the Mustangs have what it takes to overpower the Gauchos to take the rival series?
Well, there will definitely be some struggles to overcome, but the answer is yes.
There’s no doubt that the Gauchos have skill in all aspects. Otherwise why would they be in first place? However, the Mustang offense is on fire and can burn through just about anything.
One of the many star Mustangs is freshman center fielder Alex McKenna. McKenna currently has a .360 on-base percentage, 21 runs scored and five home runs this season alone. McKenna had a hitting slump for a few games, but broke the spell when Cal Poly played Hawaii, scoring two runs for the Mustangs in the first game of the series.
Freshman shortstop Kyle Marinconz is another important cog on offense. Marinconz, who is currently batting .323, scored four of the Mustangs’ 13 runs in last weekend’s series against Hawaii. Overall in the season he has picked up 21 runs and 17 RBIs. The Gauchos will surely need to do some serious preparation to face this nonstop infielder at the plate.
Also look out for third basemen Michael Sanderson. A junior transfer, Sanderson is batting a .293 and has recorded 16 runs and 17 RBIs this season.
While the Mustangs are stellar on offense, they have been shaky on defense. They already have 50 errors on the season. If the Mustangs want a chance at beating the Gauchos, they are going to have to stay in focus to keep the opposition scoring chances at a minimum.
However, Cal Poly does have some strong pitchers that will be a good match against the Gauchos. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Kyle Smith has pitched a total of nine games this season, keeping one of the team’s lowest ERAs of 2.77. Sophomore righty Jarred Zill has been even better as of late, yielding four runs over his last three starts to lower his ERA to 2.73.
After missing a full week’s worth of conference play, Cal Poly needs all the wins it can get to achieve a top spot. This weekend will be extremely important for the Mustangs’ record.
The Mustangs begin Blue-Green rivalry play at 6 p.m. on Friday.