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No. 22 Cal Poly Baseball to Compete in Four-Day Aztec Invitational

NOTES: CAL POLY | SAN DIEGO STATE | USD | MILWAUKEE | USF

Cal Poly (7-1, 0-0 Big West), off to its best start in three years and back in the national polls for the first time in three years, will play four games Thursday through Sunday in the Aztec Invitational hosted by San Diego State inside Tony Gwynn Stadium.

Coach Larry Lee's Mustangs will play San Diego State on Thursday at 7 p.m., the University of San Diego on Friday at 11 a.m., Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Saturday at 3 p.m. and the University of San Francisco on Sunday at 1 p.m. Fellow Big West Conference member Cal State Northridge also is in the field.

ESPN Radio 1280 will broadcast the final three games. Thursday's game against the Aztecs will be broadcast on the internet only. An audio stream as well as live stats for all four games will be provided free of charge on the Internet at www.gopoly.com.

Cal Poly, ranked No. 22 by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper this week, returns 16 letter winners, including five position starters and five pitchers, off its 2011 squad which finished 27-26 overall and third in the Big West at 15-9. The Mustangs started the year 0-6 before winning 27 of  their next 44 games.

Cal Poly is off to a much better start in 2012, sweeping Big 12 Conference member and perennial NCAA regional qualifier Oklahoma State by scores of 6-0, 11-3 and 6-0 in Baggett Stadium on the opening weekend of the season, then falling 5-2 to Santa Clara last Tuesday to wrap up a four-game homestand. The Mustangs began a nine-game road trip by sweeping a four-game series over the weekend at Loyola Marymount by scores of 9-1, 12-5, 6-2 and 9-6.

Coach Larry Lee's Mustangs, who hit .284, produced a .397 on-base percentage and stole four of four bases against the Cowboys, put up even more impressive offensive statistics against the Lions, hitting .346 with eight doubles, a triple, two home runs and another quartet of steals. Cal Poly outscored Oklahoma State 23-3 and Loyola Marymount 36-14.

The Mustang pitching staff, which compiled a stingy 0.67 ERA with 27 strikeouts and only five walks against the Cowboys, struck out 22 Lions with 15 walks and a 3.00 staff ERA.

The loss to Santa Clara last Tuesday began a stretch of playing eight of 10 games against West Coast Conference schools. San Diego and San Francisco are WCC members and the Mustangs have a rematch with Santa Clara on March 6.

Against Loyola Marymount, Mustang sophomore third baseman Jimmy Allen went 10-for-19 (.526) with a home run and four RBI while senior shortstop Mike Miller was 11-for-21 (.524) with a triple and two RBI. Junior center fielder Mitch Haniger went 8-for-18 (.444) with two doubles and a home run, driving in nine runs, en route to Big West Field Player of the Week honors.

Cal Poly's top hitter through eight games is Allen with a robust .424 average and eight RBI. Miller is hitting .395 after a four-hit game Sunday against Loyola Marymount and leads the team in runs scored with 13 while Haniger is next at .345 with a team-leading 12 RBI.

This weekend's starting rotation of Kyle Anderson, Joey Wagman, Matt Imhof and Kyle Brueggemann are a combined 6-0 with a 2.17 ERA. Relievers Nick Grim, Chase Johnson, Michael Holback and Reed Reilly have allowed just one earned run in 20 1/3 innings.

San Diego State, coached by former Major Leaguer and Hall of Fame member Tony Gwynn, sports a 3-6 record after falling 3-0 at Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday. The Aztecs lost two of three against Washington and split four games in the University of San Diego Tournament over the weekend with wins over Pacific and Oregon State.

San Diego is 6-2 on the year, losing two of three at Sam Houston State but going 4-0 in its own tournament last weekend with two wins over Pacific and single victories against Kansas State and Oregon State. The Toreros beat UC Riverside 8-5 on Tuesday night.
Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2-5) lost its first five games of the year, three to No. 22 East Carolina, before rebounding with two victories against Minnesota to earn a four-game weekend series split.

The University of San Francisco is coming off a three-game series sweep against Missouri and is 5-3 on the year. The Dons opened the season with two wins against San Jose State before losing the series finale.

Cal Poly is playing Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Saturday for the first time. The Mustangs are 31-59 against San Diego State and are playing the Aztecs for the first time since 2008 when San Diego State earned a 9-8 win in a tournament hosted by the University of San Diego.

Cal Poly has a 29-27 edge in its series against San Diego, beating the Toreros 3-2 in their last meeting, also in the aforementioned 2008 tournament. Against San Francisco, Cal Poly is 6-4 but lost the last meeting between the two schools, a 4-0 Dons victory a year ago in San Francisco.

A year ago Cal Poly posted its sixth winning season in the last eight years, and a third-place finish in the highly competitive Big West Conference at 15-9. The Mustangs have finished in the upper half of the league standings eight times in the last 10 years. Cal Poly was 7-4 against top-25 teams in 2011 and finished 19-7 at home.

Following the tournament this weekend, Cal Poly plays a single game at Santa Clara next Tuesday, then returns home to host Washington for a three-game series March 9-11 in Baggett Stadium.