(Photo by Ian Billings)
Mustang Daily Staff Report
Cal Poly will face off against Cal State Northridge for its three final home games of the season as the team hopes to remain in the hunt for a bid in the NCAA regionals this weekend. The Mustangs dropped two of three games at UC Irvine this past weekend, in addition to losing crucial series to Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton earlier this year, and left themselves little room for error.
The Mustangs (34-16, 12-9 Big West) have been floating in and out of top 25 rankings all season, but have dropped into a tie for fourth place in the Big West Conference with UC Santa Barbara. Meanwhile, the Matadors are ranked second in the Big West and are three games ahead of Cal Poly with six games left to play.
Cal Poly has put up a 20-6 record at home this season, and the last time the two teams met at Baggett Stadium two seasons ago, the Mustangs swept the Matadors.
To prepare for the series, the team has been focusing on pitching and defense as well as hitting, sophomore starting pitcher Bryan Granger said.
“We are not doing too many things differently, just playing our game like we usually do,” said Granger, who is scheduled to pitch the series finale on Sunday.
Head coach Larry Lee said that to prepare for their opponent, the Mustangs are working on the skills they need to improve.
“Each player on our team has things they need to continue to work on to get better, and if that happens then the team will benefit from it,” Lee said.
Every game played this year was hard fought and often close with a lot at stake in later innings, Lee said.
“We are battle tested and just need to play to our capabilities,” Lee said. “Even though we have had a successful season and put ourselves in a great position for postseason consideration, we still haven’t played to all our capabilities in all facets of the game.”
The Mustangs last made the postseason in 2009 and just missed an opportunity in 2012 when the team finished one game behind Big West champion Cal State Fullerton. However, as of May 9, the website ChasingOmaha.com projected that Cal Poly would make the field of 64 in the Los Angeles regional along with UCLA, Virginia Tech and Buffalo.
The first pitch will take place at 6 p.m. on Friday, when senior pitcher Joey Wagman will take the mound, and 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Hillary Kaiser contributed to this report.