Tim Wise had enough singles to make it rain. What he really wanted to do was land a ball in the parking lot.
In Cal Poly’s 7-1 baseball victory over visiting Pacific on Friday night, the Mustangs’ designated hitter — who started the season with 25 straight singles — parked his first of the season in the Baggett Stadium lot.
“Finally,” the sophomore said. “I haven’t been getting annoyed, but it’s been kind of weird that I got so many singles and haven’t been able to get very many extra-base hits. It feels nice.”
Wise’s three-run home run in the seventh inning broke open a two-run game to give Cal Poly (23-17, 7-6 Big West Conference) the opening advantage in the three-game series against the struggling Tigers (11-29, 1-9 Big West).
Joey Wagman got his sixth victory of the season, tying Kyle Anderson for the team lead, and allowed only one run on five hits and no walks in eight innings.
Wise was 2 for 4 with a run and four RBI and improved his batting average to .289 and his hit total to 33 for the season. Only four of those have been for extra bases.
But Wise is contributing to the Mustangs in other ways. With a team-high on-base percentage of .410, Wise walks at a higher rate than anyone else on the team, and he serves as an important bridge between hits leader Mike Miller in the leadoff spot and RBI leader Mitch Haniger at No. 3.
“He always gets a lot of quality at-bats,” said Haniger, who was 2 for 3 with two doubles and two runs scored. “I know his average isn’t off the charts, but if you watch every game, and if you’re not just looking at the stats, you see how he sees pitches, he draws walks and he gets on base for the middle of the order. He wears a pitcher down, and he just has quality ABs.
“He’s kind of the total package in the two spot.”
Part of Wise’s success has been his selective nature at the plate, something helped along by his laid-back personality.
He might have sounded like he was past due for his first homer of the season. But he’s not going to allow the thought of hitting another take him out of his game.
Wise has settled into his role as a table-setter quite nicely.
“I’ve kind of just stepped in and gotten used to it,” Wise said. “I like to step in and be patient. Ball on the corner I’ll leave and just get a better hit to pitch. It’s kind of led to a lot of walks, and I kind of like it.”
Friday’s home run was Wise’s third of his collegiate career. He had his first two homers in a 21-0 victory at Pacific late last May.
When the 6-foot-4 former Westlake High standout arrived in San Luis Obispo last season, he was only 165 pounds, Mustangs head coach Larry Lee said. Now nearing the 190-pound range, Wise is set to spend the offseason working on building his strength for next season, when he could be needed to drive in more runs.
“His hitting skills are where we want them,” Lee said. “He just needs to get stronger, and that’s his ticket to the next level.”
Jimmy Allen was the only other Cal Poly player with multiple hits, going 2 for 4 and driving in Haniger for the final run of the game in the bottom of the seventh. Miller drove in Chris Hoo with an RBI groundout to tie the score at 1 in the third.
The Tigers took the initial lead with back-to-back extra-base hits against Wagman in the top of the second.
Allen Riley hit a triple to right center that was beyond the reach of a diving David Armendariz, and Brett Christopher doubled to right in the following at-bat.
But Pacific only had two more players advance past second the rest of the game.
The victory was the 21st in the past 27 game against the Tigers for Cal Poly, which has won 12 straight series against Pacific.
Losing their past two Big West series, the Mustangs sit in fourth place with 11 conference games left to play.
Having already dropped 2-1 series to conference front-runners Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State, it will be hard for Cal Poly to get back into the top two, but the Mustangs haven’t conceded yet.
“Lately, we’ve been playing well,” Haniger said. “We’ve been losing close games, but we’re trying to keep a positive attitude. If we can keep playing well, things will go our way. Our heads are up.”