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The No. 5 Cal Poly baseball team split the season series against Pepperdine as the Mustangs avenged this past week’s loss with a 5-1 victory over the Waves on Tuesday at Baggett Stadium. With the win, Cal Poly moved to 39-9 on the season.
The Mustangs entered the game having dropped four of its last six games. Once ranked No. 1 in the nation, Cal Poly dropped as far as No. 11 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper poll released this week.
“We’re not looking ahead,” head coach Larry Lee said. “We talked about focusing on the little things, not big things. The little things are the next pitch and big things are thinking about regionals. As a team, we don’t discuss that. We know if we play well, good things will happen.”
Short-term thinking proved to be effective against the Waves as the victory sends the Mustangs into a decisive weekend series against UC Irvine.
The Anteaters currently lead the Big West standings and Cal Poly by 1.5 games, but the Mustangs will have a chance to take full control of first place with a series win.
But the Mustangs don’t focus on national rankings as the club just tries to win games, sophomore designated hitter Brian Mundell said.
“Seeding just runs off how many games we win, and that’s our goal to win as many games as possible,” he said.
Mundell went 2 for 3 with three RBIs, including a triple Tuesday to get back on track after a batting slump in recent days.
The sophomore went 0 for 21 during the team’s four-game skid, but has bounced back, batting 7 for 10 in the last three games since. Mundell accredited a new mentality at the plate, he said.
“I just trusted the approach I had was working, and that’s just clearing my head, getting the barrel on the ball and helping the team out any way I can,” he said.
It’s not a coincidence that Mundell’s slump correlated with the team’s four-game losing streak. The Cal Poly offense is hard to contain when the 6-foot-3 Valencia native has a hot bat, Lee said.
“He’s turning it around,” Lee said. “He kind of scuffled for two or three weeks, but he’s really dialed in right now. You can tell he’s on balance. He presents a big presence in the middle of the lineup.”
Tuesday’s victory is a move in the right direction for the team after experiencing its first losing streak of the season. But now the Mustangs have won three straight and are out of the darkness, Mundell said.
“Losing streaks are always rough,” he said. “We kind of got caught up in the media and stuff because we had that one poll saying we were No. 1. We were the hunted instead of being the hunter.”
Now the team is back home and loves it, Mundell said.
With three straight wins, the offense is firing on all cylinders and the pitching staff is enjoying success similar to what it experienced before the skid.
“I don’t know what it is about this place, but we play so much better here, so much more comfortable being at home,” junior reliever Reed Reilly said.
Junior right-hander Danny Zandona earned his second victory of the year by pitching five scoreless innings and allowing one hit.
The Mustangs will take on the Anteaters on Friday at 6 p.m.