The Cal Poly baseball team is in the midst of possibly its greatest season at the Division I level.
The Mustangs’ next opponent, Saint Mary’s (19-13), is in arguably the same position. The teams will meet at 6 p.m. tonight in Baggett Stadium.
“They’re having one of the best seasons in 15 or 20 years,” said Cal Poly head coach Larry Lee.
The Gaels finished last year with an even 26-26-1 record and a sub par 8-13 sixth place finish in the West Coast Conference. This year, head coach Jedd Soto has his team even after six games in conference.
“They’re playing extremely well,” Lee said of Saint Mary’s. “They have a lot of quality non-conference wins early in the season.”
Included in those victories are wins over then-No. 20 Stanford and UC Santa Barbara early in the season. The Gaels had won six of seven before dropping their last two decision at San Francisco over the weekend.
Saint Mary’s will visit a Cal Poly team that has not lost at home since opening night against Rice. The Owls were recently named the No. 1 team in the country in this week’s Rivals.com Top 25 poll.
The Mustangs have since reeled off 13 consecutive home victories, including taking the final two home games against Rice and a hard-fought sweep of Cal State Northridge that saw two games decided by one run in extra innings.
The Mustangs have been riddled with injuries lately and were without the services of junior first baseman Wes Dorrell who did not play due to an illness and junior infielder Adam Buschini who has been bothered all season with an injured hand.
“Being without the services of our full allotment of positions players – you find out it’s not a lot of fun against teams like USC and Northridge,” Lee explained. “You kind of have to adjust your thinking and adjust your team a little different.”
The adjustments have been subtle but effect, helping Cal Poly to a top 20 national ranking for most of the season. The Mustangs came out of nowhere this season, taking most experts by surprise in their hot start.
“You can’t really read into any of those things,” said outfielder Ryan Lee. “How many people picked the Tampa Bay Rays to be in the World Series last year? How many people picked Fresno State to win (the College World Series last year)?”
Lee, who is currently on an 18-game hitting streak, said that the team’s consistent approach has a key difference in turning the team around after last year’s 24-32 record.
“We’ve just been more disciplined on and off the field with a lot more focus on every game,” he said. “The offense is going to be up and down. If we pitch and play defense we give ourselves a pretty good chance in every game.”
The team is at the midway point of the season having played 28 games with 28 remaining. Lee said the team is remaining focused on reaching their ultimate goal of reaching the NCAA Tournament.
“Our main goal is to make a regional bid – something this team has never done and I think we’re in a good position to do that,” Ryan Lee said.