Sophomore designated hitter Brian Mundell went 1 for 3 with two walks in a 5-2 win over Kansas State on Saturday night at Baggett Stadium.
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The Cal Poly baseball team defeated No.22 Kansas State for the second straight game in the Mustangs’ season-opening series at Baggett Stadium on Saturday night.
Freshman starting pitcher Slater Lee struck out seven Kansas State batters to record his first career win in his first-ever start as the Mustangs won 5-2.
Slater Lee, a Carlsbad, Calif. native, made first-team all-league last season as the star pitcher at Carlsbad High School, and continued his pitching prowess in his first NCAA start on Saturday.
“It feels good,” he said. “That’s what I came out here and tried to do, get my team an opportunity to win the game and get the W.”
The freshman said he wasn’t fazed by the emotions induced by his long-anticipated start.
“There were nerves, but they were good nerves,” he said. “You have to be confident that you’ve worked hard enough to get to this point. You should be confident that you can get people out and give your team an opportunity to win the game.”
Junior Nick Torres supported Lee’s stingy pitching display with his second career four-hit game. Torres was the team’s second-most efficient batter in 2013 with a .333 average. That production returned for the 2014 season.
“It was nice,” Torres said. “Yesterday I felt like I was having some nice at-bats, but it just wasn’t falling my way. So to come out here today and just have the same approach, and see some of those balls fall felt good.”
Torres will be Cal Poly’s main source of offense heading into the season, according to head coach Larry Lee.
“Nick’s our guy offensively,” he said. “It’s what we need. Offense is contagious. When your main guys hit, it takes a lot of pressure off of your role players.”
Torres got his first hit in the first inning, but the Mustangs offense didn’t score as a result.
The Mustangs offensive rally took place in the bottom of the sixth inning when Torres earned a single, which was followed by a sliding double by sophomore designated hitter Brian Mundell. The next batter, senior third baseman Jimmy Allen, sliced a pitch over the shortstop’s head to earn the Mustangs’ their first run of the night.
The runs continued to pour in, resulting in a three-run inning for the Mustangs, which put the team up 3-1 after six innings.
With a two-run cushion, Lee was called off the mound in the seventh inning after allowing just two hits, one run, and a walk in 6 1/3 innings.
With junior southpaw Matt Imhof’s 14 strikeouts on Friday night, followed by Lee’s impressive debut, the Cal Poly pitching staff looks like a postseason contender, Torres said.
“That was one thing we had a question about heading into this season, and to see that’s what’s carried us so far through this season feels good,” Torres said.
The relievers, Taylor Chris and Reed Reilly, finished the final innings with just one run allowed, clinching the series for the Mustangs. Reilly earned his second save of the year.
The start to the season has given the Mustangs confidence, but Larry Lee said the team must remain hungry.
“We have an opportunity tomorrow to go for a sweep, which is important,” Larry Lee said. “We’re obviously happy with winning the series, but we’re not satisfied. We need to take care of business. We just created a great opportunity, and now we need to take advantage of it.”
The Mustangs and Wildcats square off again on Sunday at 1 p.m.