SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Cal Poly (22-16, 6-6 Big West), which has won five of nine series, including three sweeps, and is all alone in fourth place in the Big West Conference standings, visits Central California rival Fresno State (16-20, 1-5 Western Athletic) for a single non-conference game Tuesday night at Pete Beiden Field (cap.: 3,000).
First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. The game will be aired live on ESPN Radio 1280 with Tom Barket providing the play-by-play. Audio and video streams as well as live stats will be available on www.gopoly.com.
Cal Poly returned 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 jumped to a much better 20-10 start in 2012 with series sweeps against Oklahoma State (3-0), Loyola Marymount (4-0) and UC Irvine (3-0) as well as series wins over Washington (2-1) and San Diego State (3-1). The Mustangs, 7-1 in February, posted a 10-8 record in March, including series losses to Minnesota and Long Beach State, and are 5-8 so far in April after winning one of three games at both Cal State Northridge and No. 12 Cal State Fullerton. Cal Poly is 2-6 since sweeping UC Irvine on April 5-7 in Baggett Stadium.
Cal State Fullerton opened its series against Cal Poly with a 6-1 triumph last Friday, scoring four times in the sixth inning to break open a 2-0 contest. The Mustangs belted three home runs, all with two outs, to account for all of their runs in an 8-6 triumph Saturday night. Mitch Haniger and Nick Torres belted three-run shots in the sixth inning and Alex Michaels provided the game-winner with a two-run tiebreaking home run in the eighth. Reed Reilly pitched four scoreless innings in relief for the win. Cal Poly overcame 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 deficits Sunday, tallied two runs in the ninth for a 4-3 lead and was within one out of a series-clinching victory before the Titans scored a run in the ninth and another in the 10th for a 5-4 win.
Last Tuesday, Cal Poly let a 3-1 lead slip away in the ninth as Fresno State scored four times for a 5-3 win, handing the Mustangs their first loss of the season in 21 games in which Cal Poly led after eight innings.
Only other Bulldog game of the week was an 8-1 loss to CSU Bakersfield last Saturday at Pete Beiden Field. Fresno State used nine pitchers in the game while Jeff McKenzie tossed a nine-hit complete game for the Roadrunners, striking out six.
Cal Poly's top hitter through 38 games is junior center fielder Mitch Haniger, who went 5-for-14 with four RBI in the Cal State Fullerton series and is hitting .345. He leads the Mustangs and the Big West with eight home runs and 41 RBI. Sophomore third baseman Jimmy Allen sports a .344 average with 10 doubles, two home runs and 20 RBI while senior shortstop Mike Miller is hitting .341 with 11 doubles, four triples, 23 RBI and 36 runs scored. He had a 14-game hitting streak earlier this season. Sophomore left fielder David Armendariz is hitting .315 with eight doubles and 18 RBI.
Freshman right-hander Bryan Granger (0-1, 4.22 ERA) (pictured above), who allowed one run and five hits in five innings with four strikeouts against Fresno State last Tuesday, his best performance in three starts so far, will start against the Bulldogs again Tuesday night. Fresno State's starter will be sophomore southpaw Tyler Linehan (3-4, 3.38 ERA).
Fresno State, coached by Mike Batesole (10th season at Fresno State (345-256), 17th season overall (600-414), Cal State Fullerton '90), returned 17 lettermen, including four position starters and seven pitchers, off a team which went 40-16 a year ago, finished first in the Western Athletic Conference at 17-7 and was selected to participate in the NCAA UCLA Regional, posting a 0-2 mark.
The Bulldogs, 13-10 after splitting two games against UC Riverside in late March, have lost 10 of their last 13 games, including two of three games in series against New Mexico and Hawai'i and all three games two weeks ago at home against San Jose State. Fresno State won three of four games against Butler and split a four-game set against San Francisco while losing series against Stanford and Pepperdine.
Top hitters so far in 2012 for the Bulldogs are center fielder Aaron Judge (.316, 15 RBI), second baseman Patrick Hutcheson (.295, 10 RBI) and first baseman Trent Garrison (.290, 15 RBI). Fresno State is hitting .254 this season, has compiled a 3.76 staff ERA and has committed 57 errors in 36 games for a .960 fielding percentage.
Fresno State captured the 2008 NCAA College World Series title, has appeared in the NCAA postseason 32 times and has claimed 33 conference titles. Former Bulldogs currently in the Major Leagues include Matt Garza (Cubs) and Doug Fister (Tigers). Other Bulldog alums who played in the Majors include Dick Ruthven, Terry Pendleton and Dan Gladden.
Cal Poly and Fresno State have met 176 times on the baseball field since the series began when both teams were California Collegiate Athletic Association members back in 1945. The Bulldogs hold a 112-63 advantage, though Cal Poly has won 18 of the last 23 meetings between the two Central California rivals. The Mustangs won three of five games during Fresno State's national championship season in 2008 and also earned 11-4 and 5-4 wins last season.
Cal Poly was ranked No. 22 by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper after its 7-1 start and No. 27 two weeks ago after sweeping UC Irvine.
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.
Cal Poly is 12-1 on Saturday, 5-1 in shutouts, 21-1 when leading after eight innings, 17-5 when outhitting its foes and 14-5 when making fewer errors than the opposition this season.
Cal Poly, which ends a run of playing eight of nine games on the road Tuesday night, hosts Pacific for a Big West series Friday through Sunday in Baggett Stadium. The Mustangs play 10 of their final 17 games in 2012 at home.