The Cal Poly baseball team was picked to finish fourth in the Big West Conference this season, according to the preseason coaches poll released Thursday afternoon.
The Mustangs went 32-25 overall a year ago and placed fourth in the final nine-team conference standings. It was the 16th time in the past 17 years that Cal Poly ended the season in the upper half of the Big West standings.
Defending conference champion Cal State Fullerton — a team the Mustangs beat in two of three games in 2016 — was picked to repeat its first-place finish with eight of the nine first-place votes. The Titans, who won their 21st Big West title last spring, received 76 points in the poll.
Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara tied for second with 65 points, and Cal Poly was fourth with 55 points. UC Irvine (48 points) was fifth and received one first-place vote, followed by CSUN (33), UC Riverside (27), Hawaii (23) and UC Davis (13).
Cal Poly returns many key players from last year’s team, including all three weekend starters in the pitching rotation. Sophomores Kyle Marinconz, Alex McKenna and Nick Meyer were every-day starters as true freshmen a year ago, and they’ll be expected to take another step forward this season.
The Mustangs will play their annual alumni game at 1 p.m. Feb. 11. They open the regular season with a three-game series at Cal on Feb. 17.
Big West baseball preseason poll
1. Cal State Fullerton
T2. Long Beach State
T2. UC Santa Barbara
4. Cal Poly
5. UC Irvine
7. UC Riverside
9. UC Davis