Mason Radeke pitched 8 1⁄3 strong innings to earn his second victory of the season in the opening game of a doubleheader against visiting San Francisco on Sunday, but the Cal Poly baseball team was blown out 11-5 in the nightcap.
And after dropping their first two weekend series of the season, both of which were played at Baggett Stadium, the Mustangs (3-4) are reeling. “You want to have an advantage when you play at home,” Cal Poly head coach Larry Lee said, “and obviously, so far in the season, we haven’t played very well at home. It’s a work in progress. It’s a long season. It’s about getting better as the season progresses. That’s what our hope is.”
Lee said he expected more of the offense — which is batting .293 as a team, yet has had trouble at times stringing together multiple hits in the same inning — but, the coach added, the pitching rotation will likely see a shakeup, too, by the next time the Mustangs play in San Luis Obispo.
Early Sunday, it didn’t appear pitching was a problem. Radeke allowed just three runs on four hits and struck out eight while not allowing a walk in the first seven innings before Mark DeVincenzi came on to record the final two outs in a 7-3 win.
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In the second game, Cal Poly starter Kyle Anderson gave up five runs on nine hits in 51⁄3 innings, and the Dons got another five runs off reliever Joey Wagman.
Anderson (0-1) saw his ERA rise to 6.39 in two starts, and Friday starter Matt Leonard (0-1) is faring less than a run better at 5.56. The team ERA thus far is 5.57.
The pitching staff’s morale is “definitely melancholy,” said Radeke, whose ERA stands at 2.51, “but it’ll turn around. I have complete confidence that we’ll turn around.
“Hitting just needs to come around, and it will. Our guys are getting good swings on the ball, they’re just not connecting together.”
Cal Poly had 10 hits in the second game against San Francisco on Sunday, but only three of the Mustangs’ runs were earned. Two of those came against Dons sophomore pitcher Bob Mott, a former Mission Prep standout, in the bottom of the ninth.
This was after Cal Poly put up nine hits against San Francisco on Friday but was held scoreless in a 5-0 loss.
“Some of our main guys haven’t got that rhythm at the plate,” Lee said, “and what happens then is now you start pressing, and it snowballs.”
Freshman outfielder Mitch Haniger leads the team with a .417 batting average and hit his second home run of the season in Radeke’s win.
After Haniger, four Mustangs are tied with a .333 average. One of those is senior first baseman David Van Ostrand, who has started in the past three games after sitting out the first four while awaiting an appeal to the NCAA for an extra season of eligibility to be approved.
Van Ostrand missed all of last season because of complications arising from a liver disease he was diagnosed with the previous year.
He was 2 for 5 with a run in the first game and 0 for 3 in the second.
“It’s amazing to be back in here,” said Van Ostrand, who was not allowed to practice with the team before his medical redshirt was granted. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to be back. All the guys around me stayed positive. The coaches never let me think anything else was going to happen.”
As Van Ostrand continues to get back into the swing of things, Lee expects the rest of the offense to do so as well. In any event, the lineup and bench rotation will likely stay as it’s been recently constructed. The pitching rotation could be another story.
Lee said Wagman, owner of a 6.00 ERA and a 12-4 midweek win over Pepperdine, could get a chance to join the weekend crew after the team returns from next week’s Coca-Cola Classic in Surprise, Ariz.Radeke could also move from Sunday afternoons to Saturday nights.
“When Mason’s on the mound on Sunday, you’re the better team, and you can’t always say that,” Lee said. “But that Saturday game is so important in giving you the momentum going into a Sunday game.”