The Cal Poly baseball team finished with a winning record for the first time since its record-setting season in 2009, but it was hardly the finish they imagined.
The Mustangs won their second game in a three-game series against Cal State Fullerton on April 22, clinching just the second series victory over the Titans in the last 38 years.
From there, it looked like the Mustangs would ride their new-found momentum to just their second NCAA Regional berth in program history. But Cal Poly faltered down the stretch, and rode a skid that most recently saw Cal State Bakersfield sweep the Mustangs in their final series of the year. Cal Poly closed the 2010-11 season with a 27-26 (15-9 Big West) record.
Overall, it was an up and down season for the Mustangs. They came out of the gates and lost their first six games of the season, before the Mustangs rode an offensive outburst to defeat Fresno State 11-4.
The Mustangs struggled through the rest of their nonconference schedule, racking up an 8-12 record during that stretch.
In conference play, the Mustangs found their stride. After taking two games from UC Riverside, and dropping two against UC Santa Barbara, the Mustangs swept Cal State Northridge and took two of three against Cal State Fullerton.
But the next weekend, they dropped two of three to Long Beach State and two to UC Irvine, handing the Mustangs a blow that almost certainly knocked them out of postseason contention.
Against Cal State Bakersfield, the Mustangs’ bad luck continued.
Starter Mason Radeke pitched for Cal Poly on Friday, but not even the Mustangs’ perennial ace could help them win. He pitched seven innings and gave up five hits and one walk, while striking out four.
He picked up the loss in the 3-1 defeat, falling to 8-4, after Cal State Bakersfield scored two runs in the first inning and one in the sixth.
Cal Poly’s only answer came in the sixth, when right fielder Mitch Haniger hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Evan Busby.
On Saturday, starter Steven Fischback gave up 11 hits and three earned runs in 6 2/3 innings. He left with Cal State Bakersfield leading 4-3 in the seventh.
In the eighth, Cal State Bakersfield broke it open. Against reliever Frankie Reed, the Roadrunners scored six runs off five hits to take a 10-3 lead. The score would stay that way as the Mustangs fell to Cal State Bakersfield for the second straight game.
The Mustangs were able to keep it scoreless through five innings on Sunday, but in the sixth, Cal State Bakersfield’s Cael Brockmeyer hit a RBI double to right field and put the Roadrunners up 1-0.
Cal State Bakersfield added one run in the seventh and eighth, before Cal Poly answered with its only run in the ninth, when infielder Matt Jensen hit a sacrifice fly to right. The Mustangs’ fell short, as they lost 3-1 in their final game of the season.
Offensively, center fielder Bobby Crocker finished with the team’s best batting average (.339). Crocker also had 13 doubles and five home runs on the year.
Mike Miller was the Mustangs’ only other batter with an average above .300. He hit .306 with nine doubles and 23 RBIs.
As a team, the Mustangs hit .264, compared to last year’s .304 average.
On the mound, all three weekend starters finished with an ERA under four. Radeke finished with a team high 3.07 ERA, Fischback finished with a 3.33 ERA and Joey Wagman racked up a 3.62 ERA in seven starts.
Closer Jeff Johnson anchored the bullpen. He overpowered batters on his way to a 1.63 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings. He also held batters to a .158 average.