The Cal Poly baseball team won’t be going anywhere this weekend.
The Mustangs and head coach Larry Lee felt strongly they had earned the right to host one of 16 NCAA regionals for the first time in 20 years of Division I program history.
But it wasn’t official until sites were revealed Sunday night, and even though the full field has yet to be introduced, Cal Poly feels strongly it’ll back up its selection with another first.
After winning the Big West Conference title for the first time, the Mustangs have never won a regional, going 0-2 in Tempe, Ariz., in 2009 and 1-2 in Los Angeles last season.
“Hosting a regional is one of those accomplishments that raises the bar,” Lee said, “and it raises the expectations of everyone in the program. You hope to continue to knock down obstacles and continue to advance and raise the bar even higher.
“We get to host a regional, but we haven’t won a regional. So, you put things in perspective. … When you’re 27-3 at home, hosting a regional gives you the best possible chance of advancing.”
The No. 5 Mustangs (45-10) lost only single games to Cal, UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine in 30 games at Baggett Stadium this season. That first loss, to the Golden Bears, didn’t come until the 22nd overall game of the year.
Though some considered Cal Poly on the bubble to lock down a home site, the athletic department has been selling tickets in advance since last week.
Only general admission seats remain available and can be purchased at GoPoly.com or by phone at 756-4TIX.
All-session for all six or seven games in the four-team, double-elimination tournament are $60 for adults and $40 for children younger than 13 and seniors.
If available, individual game tickets will go on sale Thursday and could range from $13 to $20 per game.
The Mustangs are the only host team in California, and No. 1 Oregon State is the only other team west of Texas hosting a regional.
Remaining regional sites include No. 14 LSU (44-14-1), No. 9 Indiana (42-13), No. 3 Virginia (44-13), No. 6 Miami (41-17), No. 15 South Carolina (42-16), No. 13 TCU (42-15), No. 7 Florida (40-21), No. 17 Rice (41-18), No. 2 Louisiana Lafayette (53-7), No. 12 Louisville (45-15), No. 19 Vanderbilt (41-18), No. 11 Oklahoma State (45-16) and No. 4 Florida State (43-15).
The highest ranked team to be passed over was No. 8 Washington (39-15-1), the second-place team from the Pac-12.
“I thought Washington would be the third western host with Oregon having an outside shot at a fourth,” Lee said, “but I thought Washington would get it. They’ve had a very outstanding season. The Pac-12 is obviously regarded as one of the power conferences. Not to get a second host site from that conference is pretty difficult to understand, but nothing surprises me.”
Until the rest of the field is revealed today on the selection show beginning at 9 a.m. on ESPNU, which the team will be watching from Charlie’s Place in San Luis Obispo, Lee is uncertain whether having limited regionals in the West will hurt or help Cal Poly.
The selection committee usually appears to place teams close to home to limit travel costs. Last season, Cal Poly, San Diego and San Diego State were placed in the all-California Los Angeles Regional hosted by UCLA.
But there are sure to be some western teams shipped east to fill brackets this year.
Regionals can include just one representative from any conference. So, only one Pac-12 and Big West team can be placed in San Luis Obispo. The same goes for Corvallis, Ore.
That could be a good thing for West Coast baseball.
“Depending on how many teams from the West get regional bids, with only two West Coast regional sites,” Lee said, “there’s a lot of West Coast teams that could possibly get shipped away.
“I just think teams from the West would rather play teams outside the region.”