History is against the Cal Poly baseball team.
The Mustangs have never been to the postseason at the Division I level and have been left in the dark on multiple occasions despite building quality résumés.
Cal Poly head coach Larry Lee’s team has once again compiled a number of quality wins and this year he wants to ensure that his club isn’t left out again.
“Wins are wins from this point on,” Lee said. “We’re not really concerned whether we get the wins in conference or non-conference. I just think that wins are important and our team needs to come to play every day.”
The Mustangs (33-15) will have the chance to not only pick up another win, but to erase an earlier lopsided loss when they host Pepperdine on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Baggett Stadium.
The Waves (27-22) pounded Cal Poly 16-6 when the team’s met on March 10. Pepperdine entered that contest ranked 10th in the nation but have since fallen on hard times, dropping seven-consecutive games at one point to fall out of the Top 25 standings.
Still, Lee is being cautious with the Waves and will send a traditional weekend starter, senior Jared Eskew to the mound on Tuesday.
“It’s the best available arm,” Lee said. “It gives us the best chance of being successful in a midweek game. A lot of times we get down pretty early in the game and really those midweek games you’re just trying to piece together nine innings.”
The Mustangs had dropped three of four midweek games dating back to early April seeing freshman midweek starters Jeff Johnson and Kyle Anderson struggle to get to the fifth inning.
With Eskew on the mound, the Mustangs will have a starter that has thrown 66 innings to the combined 39 innings of Johnson and Anderson.
The starting rotation isn’t the only thing that Lee has had to adjust in recent weeks. A rash of injuries and illnesses has presented many lineup challenges, including the loss of freshman second baseman Matt Jensen to a broken clavicle.
The Mustangs have been so banged up that only senior outfielder Ryan Lee and junior shortstop Kyle Smith start every game this year.
“It’s a little bit of luck,” Smith said of his avoiding the injury bug. “You never know what’s going to happen in each game. We’ve had some unfortunate illnesses and some important guys going down — it’s been rough.”
Coming off the weekend series loss to Cal State Fullerton, Cal Poly struggled to a 1-3 record last week and dropped six spots to No. 18 in the polls.
The Mustangs won on Sunday to avoid being swept by the Titans thanks in large part to the pitching performance of Mason Radeke. The freshman held the No. 5 Titans to four runs over eight innings.
“It was just what we needed,” Lee said of Radeke’s 130-pitch outing. “Mason Radeke pitches well beyond his freshman status.”
The idea that the Mustangs would slip in the public’s perception after dropping two of three to one of the best teams in the nation signals a departure from old mentalities.
“I think definitely there’s a different attitude here this year,” Smith said. “As coach Lee stresses, ‘We’re playing against the ball, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing against.’ We’re expecting to win no matter who the competition is.”