Mustang Daily Staff Report
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Cal Poly pitcher Matt Imhof made school history when Team USA announced earlier this summer that the then-sophomore had been the first Cal Poly baseball player to be selected to the Collegiate National Team’s 24-man roster.
In mid-June, Imhof earned his spot on the team after being invited to a training camp in Cary, N.C. The southpaw’s lights-out performance against the Wilmington Sharks on June 27 secured his spot in the pitching lineup.
Former Cal Poly second baseman Matt Jensen was the only other Mustangs baseball player to be granted an invitation to try out for the Collegiate National Team in both 2009 and 2010. However, Imhof remains the only Cal Poly player to have made the squad.
The Fremont, Calif. native was in the running for one of a select few starting positions remaining on the team, as most of the spots had been filled by returning players.
Pitching coach Thomas Eager remembers when the Cal Poly coaches received a phone call from Team USA.
“I asked (Imhof), ‘Are you interested?’” Eager said. “He made the comment, ‘Nothing would make me more proud than to put USA on my chest.’”
The Collegiate National Team traveled the world this summer, competing against Japanese and Cuban baseball teams as well as summer collegiate all-star teams across the northeastern United States.
Against Japan, its first international opponent, Team USA’s two victories were not enough to clinch the series, but later that summer, the squad swept its five-game series against Cuba. The team wrapped up their season with a 5-3 victory over Cuba in Durham, N.C. Team USA posted a 20-3 record this summer. Additionally, it recorded a 13-0 record in exhibition games and went 7-3 against international opponents.
By the end of summer competition, Imhof posted a 3-0 record with an impressive 0.53 ERA in his six appearances, striking out 18 batters in 17 innings on the mound for Team USA.
And it was a notable record with the Mustangs this past season that put the pitcher on the radar for the national team.
The southpaw went 7-3 as Cal Poly’s Saturday starter, allowed 30 walks and struck out 95 hitters in 101 2/3 innings.
And when the Mustangs went head-to-head against UCLA in regional playoffs, Imhof pitched five hitless innings before the Bruins broke out with error-aided runs.
“His work ethic is just pretty special,” Eager said. “I’ve watched him progress from where he was as a freshman to where he is now. The guy’s got unbelievable talent.”
Now with the start of school and the summer coming to an end, Imhof and the Cal Poly baseball team will begin to prepare for the Mustangs’ 2014 season where the lefty pitcher will likely act as the team’s Friday starter.
Incoming freshmen who will join Eager’s pitching staff include Cameron Cotton, Nick Suniga, Ondrej Sebek, Justin Calomeni, Slater Lee and redshirt Ricky Lang. Along with Imhof, returning pitchers are Taylor Chris, Bryan Granger, Reed Reilly, Michael Dingilian, Danny Zandona, Casey Bloomquist and Braden Young.
Jefferson P. Nolan contributed to this staff report.