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Cal Poly knew on Sunday night that it had been selected to host an NCAA Regional for the first time in school history, so it wasn’t a surprise seeing the school’s name flash across ESPNU at the baseball team’s selection show viewing party at Charlie’s Place on Monday morning. However, seeing that Arizona State would join the Mustangs in San Luis Obispo alongside Pepperdine and Sacramento State was slightly unexpected.
“I knew Sac State and Pepperdine would be in there, but I didn’t know if it would be San Diego State or a Pac-12 team.” head coach Larry Lee said.
Many projections had the Aztecs headed to San Luis Obispo, but the selection committee had other plans, sending San Diego State to Lafayette, La. instead.
Top-seeded Cal Poly (45-10) will take on No. 4 Sacramento State (39-22) in the second game of the double-elimination tournament at 6 p.m. on Friday, while No. 2 Arizona State (33-22) faces No. 3 Pepperdine (39-16) in the opener at 1 p.m.
The winners advance to a game on Saturday at 6 p.m., while the losers will play Saturday at 1 p.m.
Sunday’s 1 p.m. game will feature the winner of Saturday’s afternoon game and the loser of the evening game. The winner of the Saturday evening game will advance to a 6 p.m. game on Sunday and will face the winner of the game earlier in the day.
The Mustangs were selected as one of 16 regional host sites Sunday after clinching the Big West Conference regular season championship and earning a school-record 45 wins this year.
“At the beginning of the year, we were just trying to earn a playoff spot,” sophomore designated hitter Brian Mundell said. “It was our biggest priority to win the Big West and earn a playoff spot, but being able to host a regional and have that No. 1 seed in the regional is awesome for us.”
The Mustangs did not, however, get picked as a national seed — a top-8 overall seed — which would have guaranteed hosting a Super Regional if they advanced that far, something Lee attributed to the lack of attention teams on the West Coast receive. Only two teams west of Texas — Cal Poly and Oregon State — were selected as regional hosts.
The winner of the San Luis Obispo Regional will take on the winner of the Fort Worth Regional hosted by TCU in the Super Regional round June 6-8 or June 7-9. The winners of that series will advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
“There’s no guarantee TCU will win its regional,” Lee said. “We have an opportunity to play at home, we have an opportunity to host a regional and now the difficulty starts. Any of the four teams in our regional have the capability of advancing.”
According to Lee, junior southpaw Matt Imhof, sophomore right-hander Casey Bloomquist and freshman righty Justin Calomeni will start on the mound for the Mustangs in the tournament’s first three games.
Imhof was Cal Poly’s Friday night starter, while Bloomquist had a breakout season, winning 12 games as the Sunday starter this year. In the final series of the season against Cal State Northridge, Lee sent Imhof and Bloomquist out to the mound on back-to-back days for the first time all season. The Mustangs swept the series and clinched the conference title that weekend.
Three other Big West Conference teams will compete in postseason play alongside the Mustangs. UC Irvine was the last team picked by the selection committee, Cal State Fullerton used a strong finish to earn a bid and Long Beach State — the only team to defeat Cal Poly in a three-game series this year — will also compete in the tournament. Cal Poly would not face any of those teams until the College World Series.
Individual game tickets for the San Luis Obispo Regional will go on sale Thursday, May 29 at 9 a.m. if available. Reserved seats are $20, general admission (adults) seats are $15 and general admission (Cal Poly students, youth 2-13 and seniors 60 and over) are $13. All-session tickets are on sale at GoPoly.com.