Cal Poly

Cal Poly baseball team picked second in Big West behind Cal State Fullerton

The baseball coaches of the Big West Conference picked Cal Poly second in the league, giving the Mustangs their highest preseason ranking in conference history.

Cal Poly, which opens its season at home against Kansas State on Feb. 14, is coming off a 40-19 season in which the Mustangs reached the Los Angeles 

Regional of the NCAA championships.Cal Poly is ranked No. 27 in the nation by Collegiate Baseball and received votes in preseason polls by USA Today and Perfect Game. The Mustangs return 19 letter winners, including MLB Draft picks Jimmy Allen (third base) and Reed Reilly (relief pitcher). Starting pitcher Matt Imof, a preseason second team All-American, returns to the staff after posting a 7-3 record and 2.74 ERA last season.

There was little surprise who finished ahead of the Mustangs in the preseason poll.

Cal State Fullerton, ranked No. 1 in the country by Collegiate Baseball and in the top five by most major outlets, garnered top honors in the Big West coaches’ poll. The Titans went 51-10 last year en route to a fourth straight conference title, and reached the Fullerton Super Regional before falling to eventual NCAA-champion UCLA. 

All-American Thomas Eshelman will be back on the mound this year for the Titans after going 12-3 with a 1.48 ERA and 83 strikeouts as the Collegiate Baseball Freshman Pitcher of the Year in 2013.

Fullerton received all but one first-place vote, earning 73 points.

Cal Poly had 68 points and UC Santa Barbara rounded out the top three with 60 points.

UC Irvine, Long Beach State, Hawaii, UC Riverside, Cal State Northridge and UC Davis filled spots 4-9. 

Irvine was the only team other than Fullerton to receive a first-place vote.