The Big West Conference’s automatic NCAA regional berth will go to the winner of today’s season finale between Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State.
Cal Poly just hopes that, whatever the outcome, there’s enough at-large credibility on its résumé to snag some leftovers.
The Mustangs beat UC Riverside 15-9 to push their winning streak to six games Saturday and remain tied with the 49ers for second in the conference standings.
Senior left-hander Kyle Anderson pitched six innings to improve to 10-1, and David Armendariz collected three of Cal Poly’s eight doubles to drive in three runs.
If Cal Poly (35-20, 15-8 Big West) pulls off today’s sweep of the Highlanders (21-31, 9-14 Big West) in the final game of the regular season, the Mustangs would finish the season16 games over .500 and either tied for the conference championship or alone in second place.
They’re hoping that would be enough to get a postseason invite when the NCAA announces the regional fields Monday, but an NCAA RPI of 74 coming into the week will be hard to overcome.
Even so, Cal Poly is ending the regular season with a bang. After scoring 11 runs in Friday’s win, the Mustangs pounded out 16 hits and led Saturday’s game 14-0 before UC Riverside scored its only run against Anderson in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Cal Poly has won 13 of its past 16 games and is averaging 12.5 runs per game in the past four.
Armendariz was 3 for 4 with three runs and two walks to raise his season average to .299. Tim Wise was 3 for 5 with two doubles and two RBI, and Mike Miller, Jimmy Allen, Nick Torres and Chris Hoo added two hits apiece.
Both of Allen’s hits were doubles, and though conference home run and RBI leader Mitch Haniger was only 1 for 4, he drove in three runs and scored twice.
The Mustangs opened the game with single-run rallies in the first and second innings and pulled away with eight runs in the third and another four in the fifth.
Anderson allowed five hits and no walks while striking out five to lower his ERA to 3.40.
UC Riverside closed the gap with a run in the sixth, six runs in the seventh and two more in the eighth before Cal Poly reliever Reed Reilly came on for a 1-2-3 outing in the ninth.
Freshman right-hander Bryan Granger (0-1, 4.50 ERA) starts today’s finale against Highlanders’ sophomore lefty Dylan Stuart (7-6, 3.77 ERA).
TRACK & FIELD
NCAA West Regional
Oregon’s Jordan Hasay and Cal Poly’s John Prader advanced to the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 6-9 with their performances on the final day of the three-day meet in Austin, Texas.
Hasay, a former Mission Prep star, won the women’s 1,500-meter run in 4 minutes, 16.29 seconds to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the third straight season.
She was third in the NCAA meet in 2010 and seventh in 2011.
The top 12 finishers in each event qualify for the NCAA meet.
In the men’s pole vault, Cal Poly’s Prader equaled his personal record of 17 feet, 6 1⁄2 inches to finish in a tie for seventh and qualify for the NCAA meet.
One of the vaulters he tied with for seventh was Arizona State’s Derick Hinch, who competed at Cuesta College before transferring to the Sun Devils.
Cal Poly senior Kyle Inks finished tied for 23rd in the pole vault at 16-8 3⁄4.
In the men’s discus, UCLA senior Tom Nagengast, a Paso Robles High graduate, finished 18th with a best of 177-1 in the final college meet of his career.