Cal Poly

Minnesota adds to long run of home baseball games for Cal Poly

The mid-December collapse of the Metrodome in Minneapolis has caused organizers from the amateur baseball teams that would have played more than 300 games there this season scrambling to find other venues.

But the destruction of the indoor arena’s roof, which sagged and burst under the weight of 17 inches of snowfall last month, ended up ensuring the Cal Poly baseball team of an abnormally long homestand where the Mustangs will only leave San Luis Obispo once during a month-long span.

Cal Poly will host a three-game series with Minnesota in late March that was originally scheduled for the Metrodome, which is undergoing repairs and estimated to be fully operational as early as April or as late as August, according to recent reports.

“They’re scrambling,” Mustangs head coach Larry Lee said. “They had 16 games in the Metrodome that they had to make up. Some were series, some were tournaments. It’s going to make it difficult on them both financially” and in the classroom.

Cal Poly will repay a visit to the Gophers, 32-30 overall and a participant in the Fullerton Regional last season, next year in the second half of the home-and-home series.

While the return visit might unbalance the Mustangs’ 2012 schedule, it presents a favorable situation this season. Cal Poly will play 17 of 18 games in Baggett Stadium from March 4 through April 3.

Beginning with a three-game series against Valparaiso and ending with a Big West Conference opening series with UC Riverside, the Mustangs’ only road game during the stretch is a midweek visit to Malibu to face Pepperdine on March 22.

The span also includes home series against Loyola Marymount and 2010 College World Series runner-up UCLA.

The Minnesota switch “really changes the complexion of the season,” Lee said. “It wasn’t planned that way, but being at home, hopefully, you get into a routine.”

Coming off a subpar 23-32 season in 2010, Lee is also hoping it’s a winning routine.

Several injured starters should be back healthy for the start of practice Jan. 28. The season starts with a seven-game road trip beginning Feb. 18.

Former freshman All-America second baseman Matt Jensen played in both the Cape Cod League and the Team USA trials after missing the final stretch of the collegiate season with a knee dislocation suffered in practice.

Jensen is back for his junior season, as is pitcher Mason Radeke, who got off to a blistering 3-0 start before missing the remainder of the season with elbow soreness.

Radeke will be joined somewhere on the staff by senior Steven Fishback, who missed all of the past two seasons while recovering from labrum surgery.

Injuries have dogged the team recently, especially its pitching staff, but Lee imagines having more options than usual.

“Last year we got into a situation because of injuries where we had bullpen guys in the weekend rotation,” Lee said, “and they just weren’t ready at that time.

“Usually where we maybe have three-to-five strong on the mound, we may be nine-or-10 strong on the mound this year.”