Coming off arguably its best Division I season, the Cal Poly baseball team was picked to finish third in the Big West by the conference’s nine head coaches.
The Mustangs return 18 letter winners, including seven positional starters and three starting pitchers from last season’s 37-21 team that qualified for the program’s first Division I postseason appearance.
Among the returning starters is sophomore second baseman Matt Jensen, who hit .375 with 53 RBI en route to freshman all-American honors.
Also returning are senior catcher Ross Brayton (.393 batting average) and sophomore outfielder Bobby Crocker (.323).
Senior right-hander D.J. Mauldin (5-5, 4.75 ERA), sophomore right-hander Mason Radeke (6-2, 5.31) and junior lefty Matt Leonard (5-3, 7.68) all return to the Cal Poly starting rotation.
Cal State Fullerton garnered seven of the nine first place votes while UC Irvine took the other two first-place votes to finish second. Cal Poly was third, 19 points behind the Titans, while Long Beach State was fourth.
Cal Poly finished third in the Big West a year ago with a 14-10 record, three games behind Cal State Fullerton and eight games off the pace set by the first-time conference champion Anteaters.
The Titans swept through the NCAA Regionals and Super Regionals to advance to the College World Series for the 16th time while the Anteaters, like Cal Poly, fell in regional action.
Cuesta College sophomore guard Roger Guardia was named Western State Conference Player of the Week after averaging 24.5 points, 10 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game in two games last week.
Guardia, who claimed the award for the fourth time this season, scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in Cuesta’s 76-74 win over Oxnard on Jan. 13.
He shot 53 percent from the floor and 45 percent from beyond the arc to help the Cougars (18-4, 4-0) win two conference games last week.
The Cal Poly wrestling team remained ranked as high as No. 14 in the nation by several major polls.
The Mustangs only dual last week, a 32-9 win over San Francisco State, propelled them up one spot to No. 15 in the InterMat tournament rankings, up two spots to No. 15 according to DICollege Wrestling.net and up one spot to No. 16 in the National Wrestling Coaches Association poll. They remained at No. 14 in the Win Magazine rankings.
Junior Filip Novachkov is ranked as high as No. 3 at 141 pounds, while sophomore Boris Novachkov is No. 4 at 133 pounds.Senior Chase Pami is ranked No. 9 at 157 pounds. The ranked Cal Poly trio is a combined 18-0 in dual meets this season.
Cal Poly’s scheduled match at No. 12 UCLA was postponed because inclement weather in Southern California.
The Mustangs are also rescheduling Monday’s rainout with No. 40 Pepperdine.
Cal Poly has yet to announce the makeup dates for either match.
The Mustangs’ match at No. 17 Pepperdine today was postponed due to inclement weather and re-scheduled to Jan. 27 at 1 p.m. in Malibu.