Brian De Los Santos
As the Mustangs stare at the program’s first 5-0 start since 2001, head coach Larry Lee and most of his players have one thing running through their heads.
“We can be better.”
“I think we’re kind of underachieving. Based on our skill level, we could be putting up a lot different numbers,” second baseman Denver Chavez said. “Since I’ve been here, this is the best team, I think, we’ve had. Up and down the lineup, we have guys that can do everything. Our pitching staff is really solid this year.”
So as the Cal Poly baseball team (5-0) wrapped the bow on a 2-1 win over Seattle University in the Mustangs’ home opener Friday night at Baggett Stadium, the team is looking to build off of the close win and use it as a springboard for the team’s success during the remainder of the year.
At least, that’s the way Lee sees it.
“We have a lot of areas where we need to get better,” Lee said. “I think the offense has the capability to be successful because the majority of our guys in our lineup played last year and were successful. ”
On Friday, that was hardly the case. Seattle held the Mustangs scoreless through the first four innings with just one hit. But in the bottom of the fifth inning, Chavez gave the Mustangs a spark. Following an error by Seattle shortstop Nate Roberts, Chavez turned a pitch to left center with the bases loaded, bringing home Cal Poly’s only two runs of the game to make it 2-0.
“You never know when you are going to get an opportunity to score some runs,” Chavez said. “Especially when they made an error on the play before, you kind of want to capitalize when they make mistakes like that in a close ball game.”
Seattle almost made up for those mistakes in the ninth. With runners at the corners, Nick Latta scored on a fielder’s choice to bring the Redhawks to within one run with two outs. But relief pitcher Reed Reilly shut the door, striking out Seattle’s Landon Cray to preserve the Mustangs’ undefeated record.
“It just shows you how delicate the game of baseball is,” Lee said. “Tonight, we did very little from an offensive standpoint, but came away with another one-run ballgame. So as long as we’re winning and continuing to get better with each successive game, that’s what we’re looking for.”
Starting pitcher Joey Wagman is hoping to get better after tonight’s start as well. The Friday night ace walked four batters through the first two innings, finishing with two hits, no runs, five walks and eight strikeouts in six innings pitched.
“As you can see, it wasn’t my best stuff,” Wagman said. “I felt pretty uncomfortable out there. It’s just one of those days. We got to the job done, we got the W, we’ll come in tomorrow and try and get it done again.”
With tonight’s win, however, the Mustangs marked the first time the team has won five straight to start the season under Lee. Where the start will take the Mustangs remains to be seen, but Cal Poly is confident that this team is just scratching the surface of its capabilities.
“We just got to come out and think that we are the best team every time,” Wagman said. “Tonight, it was a duel early. But we have to have the confidence that we’re better than the team on the other side, come out and show it tomorrow.
“Right now the goal is to win tomorrow night, and everything else should take care of itself.”