After taking the series over Cal State Fullerton, the Cal Poly baseball team missed a chance to complete its Big West upsets, dropping a close game three to UC Irvine last weekend.
Head coach Larry Lee said the loss hurt the team’s chances at making the postseason but it is not going to stop the team from battling out every last game.
“It’ll be difficult to make the postseason,” Lee said. “Not winning Sunday’s game really hurt us, but we’re still going to try to finish strong.”
But even though the odds of advancing to NCAA regionals are stacked against them, the team knows the only way to do it is by winning.
With two Big West series, and games versus Stanford, Santa Clara and Cal State Bakersfield remaining, the team is going to have to close out the season in a dominating fashion for any shot at a return to regionals.
Junior starting pitcher Mason Radeke has already familiarized himself with success. With a Big West best seven wins and 82 strikeouts, he said he is still determined in every game he plays.
“Our chances are pretty slim right now, but it doesn’t change my mentality; it doesn’t change the guys’ mentality,” Radeke said. “We still want to win. As long as we do that we still have a chance. We’ve just got to keep our nose to the grindstone.”
With a 10-8 Big West record, the Mustangs are still within striking distance of second place in the Big West. Cal Poly trails UC Irvine by a game and a half, with remaining games against UC Davis and Pacific.
UC Davis is currently tied for fourth in the Big West behind Cal Poly, with an 8-7 record and Pacific is eighth with a 7-11 record.
Senior Bobby Crocker, who is seventh in the Big West with a .467 slugging percentage and fifth with a .424 on base percentage, said the team is aiming to sweep the rest of their Big West schedule.
“I think we just have to take it a game at a time, and there’s no reason we can’t sweep these next two series,” Crocker said. “There’s no reason to take Davis or Pacific lightly … anyone can beat anyone in this conference. We’re just doing our best to place highest in conference.”
This season Cal Poly has earned Big West series victories over UC Riverside, Cal State Northridge and, for only the second time in 38 years, Cal State Fullerton. The Mustangs narrowly missed victories over UC Santa Barbara, Long Beach State and UC Irvine, with three one-run losses in series-clinching games.
Despite the ups and downs throughout the year, Lee said the team has always fought hard and doesn’t see them slowing down now.
“I think looking at what we’ve gone through this year with injuries and how we were able to turn it around this last month, we played very well and very competitive in most of our games,” Lee said. “We’ve done a real good job in conference games especially.”
Cal Poly’s next game is against UC Davis May 13 at 6 p.m. in Baggett Stadium.
The team will then play Santa Clara at home at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17 for the last home game of the regular season before going on the road for the last seven games of the season.