Cal Poly’s men’s tennis team claimed its second Big West Conference title in three years Sunday, capturing the crown with a 4-1 rout of Hawaii in the conference tournament final at Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
The Mustangs (11-12) clinched an NCAA Tournament bid along with the conference title by dominating the Rainbow Warriors in doubles and singles.
“It’s hard to put it into words,” Cal Poly head coach Nick Carless said in a news release.
The Mustangs opened the regular season 0-7 in dual play, but Carless said his team used the underdog run of Cal Poly’s men’s basketball team to the program’s first Division I NCAA Tournament appearance and victory as inspiration.
“We kind of viewed the season they had as a model of peaking at the right time of the year,” Carless said in the release. “We just kept talking about wanting to play our best tennis at the end — that it wasn’t necessarily how you start but how you finish. And the guys kept working, and we ended up playing our best tennis down here in the desert.”
Cal Poly clinched the doubles point thanks to victories from Marco Comuzzo and Matt Thomson (8-4), and Jurgen De Jager and Ben Donovan (8-6).
The Mustangs also rolled in singles, with wins coming from Donovan (6-1, 7-5), De Jager (7-5, 6-0) and Naveen Beasley (7-5, 6-3).
Cal Poly will learn its NCAA Tournament draw Tuesday.
Hawaii finished 8-12.
Long Beach State 1, Cal Poly 0
The Dirtbags scored an unearned run in the bottom of the first inning and held on to beat the Mustangs, handing Cal Poly its first series loss of the season, two games to one in a Big West series at Blair Field.
Long Beach State (20-21, 7-5) scored the game’s only run when Michael Hill singled home Ino Patron, who reached on an error.
Dirtbags pitchers Nick Sabo and Ty Provencher combined on a two-hitter, as the Mustangs mustered only a single each from Peter Van Gansen and Chris Hoo.
Cal Poly (36-7, 12-3) is likely to drop in national polls today. The Mustangs were ranked No. 1 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 2 by Baseball America.
Cal Poly also tumbled out of first place in the Big West, as UC Irvine went to 11-1 in league play with a 3-1 victory over UC Davis to sweep the Aggies.
Cal State Fullerton 5, Cal Poly 3
The Titans scored four runs in the top of the second inning to take a two-run lead and held on to beat the Mustangs, avoiding a sweep of the Big West series.
Cal Poly (28-18, 9-6) hurt itself by committing four errors, as only one of the five runs allowed by Mustangs starter Sierra Hyland was earned.
Hyland pitched a four-hitter with three walks and four strikeouts.
Mariah Cochiolo hit a two-run single for Cal Poly, and Emily Ceccacci and Courtney Tyler had the other two hits for the Mustangs.
Monique Wesley tossed a three-hitter with four walks and one strikeout for Cal State Fullerton (27-20-1, 8-7), and Samantha Galarza went 2 for 4 with an RBI.
Camden Price shot even-par 72 and is tied for seventh place individually after the first round of play in the Big West tournament at The Country Club at Soboba Springs in San Jacinto.
Cal Poly is in sixth place as a team with a 300 total. Also for the Mustangs, Justin De Los Santos (75) is tied for 20th, Johnny Castles (76) is tied for 27th, Cole Nygren (77) is tied for 30th and former Arroyo Grande High standout Mitchell Martin (78) is tied for 37th.
UC Davis star and Morro Bay High product Matt Hansen is the individual leader at 67, and Cal State Fullerton owns the team lead at 287.