Cal Poly

Cal Poly baseball learns regional field

The Cal Poly baseball team’s selection show party was a little more subdued than some recent similar celebrations.

There was a little less of an ovation Monday when Cal Poly popped up on the TV screens at a packed Charlie’s Place restaurant than similar moments for the men’s basketball team in March and the women’s basketball team the year before.

Then again, these Mustangs already knew where they were headed, having been handed one of 16 home regionals Sunday. The only real mystery that was left unsolved for the Big West Conference champions was their opponents.

There was some hope No. 5 Cal Poly would be awarded a top-eight overall seed, which guarantees the right to host a best-of-three Super Regional should a team advance, and there was somewhat of a groan uttered when that did not happen.

“We got what we deserve, which I think is a good region,” Mustangs Athletic Director Don Oberhelman said. “Obviously, we wanted to be a top-eight national seed, but I think we got the next-best thing.”

In a four-team tournament beginning Friday at Baggett Stadium, Cal Poly (45-10) will play Western Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament champion Sacramento State (39-22) at 6 p.m.

West Coast Conference regular-season and tournament champion Pepperdine (39-16) will square off with Arizona State (33-22), the third-place team from the Pac-12, at 1 p.m.

Winners and losers will play each other Saturday in the double-elimination format, which could stretch to Monday at the latest.

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The overall winner of the San Luis Obispo Regional will take on the winner of the Fort Worth Regional, which includes No. 7 overall seed TCU, Dallas Baptist, Sam Houston State and Siena.

Cal Poly has been to the regionals twice before, for the first time in 2009 and again last season, but has yet to advance past the initial stage. The Mustangs are gunning to be one of eight teams to advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., later this month.

Whether Cal Poly makes it that far or not, becoming a regional host has put head coach Larry Lee and the university on a new pedestal. 

“It puts us on a national map that I don’t think we were on before,” Oberhelman said. “People in California knew Cal Poly was always pretty good at baseball. Coach Lee’s done a great job of just getting a little bit better every single year and continuing to build this thing.

“It’s now a situation where we’re hoping to be a perennial NCAA team. Cal State Fullerton has been the bell cow of the conference for a long, long time. We’d kind of like to be on that same national radar screen as Cal State Fullerton seems to be all the time, where it would be like an afterthought to get an NCAA appearance,” he said.