Kyle Brueggemann struck out seven Oklahoma State hitters in his first start at Cal Poly as the Mustangs came out with a 6-0 victory and a three-game sweep in front of the largest crowd at Baggett Stadium — more than 2,000 fans — since 2009.
“There was no nerves; we’ve been preparing really well and practicing a lot,” he said. “It’s just exciting to get out there and actually get that first game under my belt.”
Brueggemann, a transfer from College of the Sequoias, in Visalia, Calif., pitched out of jams in the second, third and fourth innings, each with two runners on base. He allowed six hits and walked two batters in 6 2/3 innings before being relieved by junior right-hander Nick Grim.
For the Cowboys, junior right-hander Randy McCurry (0-1) allowed just one Mustang hit — a single by third baseman Jimmy Allen — in the first four innings, but he surrendered four runs in the fifth to seal a loss for Oklahoma State.
McCurry walked senior catcher Jordan Hadlock to lead off the fifth inning, who reached second on a botched double-play by the Oklahoma State’s second baseman. Cal Poly junior third baseman Evan Busby was hit by a pitch to load the bases, bringing senior shortstop Mike Miller up to bat.
Miller doubled to drive in two runs, just as he had in the fifth inning of Cal Poly’s 11-3 victory on Saturday. He and Busby scored on a single by sophomore left fielder Matt Russell in the next at-bat, effectively blowing the game open.
The Mustangs added one run in both the sixth and seventh innings, collecting eight hits with six different players.
“It was important for us to come out strong,” Miller said. “We wanted to make a statement, and let everyone know we’re going to be a good team this year.”
Miller finished the three-game series with four hits, four RBIs and five runs — team highs in all three categories. He is one of five returning starters and 16 letter winners from last year’s squad, which finished 27-26 overall and third in the Big West at 15-9.
Prior to the series, and his 10th season on the job, head coach Larry Lee said he hoped the new squad could “hit the ground running.”
They did just that Sunday, avenging an opening series sweep at Oklahoma State last year that began a 0-6 start to the 2011 season.
Lee said his pitching staff stepped up, and he gave special praise to a Cal Poly bullpen that allowed just one run in nine innings of relief on the series.
He also expressed confidence in Brueggemann, his new Sunday afternoon right-hander.
“With Kyle on the mound on Sundays, I always think we’re the better team,” he said. “He keeps hitters off balance; he’s very talented, and very smart.”
Lee threw in sophomore right-hander Chase Johnson to close the ninth and final inning of the series, who struck out two and forced the last batter to fly out to center field.
Johnson struck out five of the six batters he faced this weekend, and looks poised to become the Cal Poly’s regular closer.
Lee said the victory and sweep were worth enjoying for the remainder of the day, but the biggest game of the season is always the next one, and he hopes it’ll draw the same kind of crowd support.
“The local community appreciates the level of competition we try to bring in,” he said, noting the beautiful afternoon. “Usually, the weather dictates the lot of our attendance, so it was a great way to start the season”
Sunday’s victory followed a win by senior southpaw Kyle Anderson in relief on Saturday, and an eight-inning shutout on Friday by junior right-hander Joey Wagman.
Cal Poly will take on Santa Clara in a one-game series at Baggett Stadium tonight at 6 p.m., then travel to Loyola Marymount for a four-game series on Friday.