College Sports

Cal Poly Baseball Earns No. 1 National Ranking

Larry Lee Cal Poly Coach

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Cal Poly's meteoric rise through the national Division I baseball polls this season has reached the top.

Coach Larry Lee's Mustangs achieved the school's second No. 1 national ranking in Division I as Collegiate Baseball Newspaper has placed Cal Poly atop its Top 30.

The Mustangs climbed one notch to No. 2 in both the Baseball America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association polls, remained No. 3 in the Perfect Game poll and rose one position to No. 3 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll.

Cal Poly compiled its third 4-0 week of the season -- the Mustangs also had a 6-0 week March 11-16 against Northern Illinois and Wagner -- by defeating Bakersfield 9-1 last Tuesday and sweeping Cal State Fullerton in a Big West Conference series in Baggett Stadium by scores of 8-0, 4-3 in 13 innings and 3-0.

The Mustangs' other 4-0 weeks included a Monday win over Cal and a weekend sweep of UC Davis four weeks ago and a victory over Saint Mary's and a sweep at Hawai'i two weeks ago.

Collegiate Baseball Newspaper noted the Mustangs have "a superb 2.73 team ERA as the pitching staff nearly has a 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (367 strikeouts, 133 walks). Defensively, Cal Poly has a .981 fielding percentage with only 28 errors in 39 games. Only 18 stolen bases have been allowed in 39 attempts. Offensively, the team is averaging 6.2 runs per game."

Cal Poly's sweep against Cal State Fullerton was its first since 1973 when both schools were members of the Division II California Collegiate Athletic Association. The Titans last were swept in a three-game series by LSU in 2011. Last Big West team to sweep Cal State Fullerton was UC Riverside in 2007, the year the Highlanders claimed the conference title.

Thursday's 8-0 win was Cal Poly's first shutout over the Titans in the 49-year history of the series (1966-2014) and the Mustangs also won Saturday's game by shutout, 3-0.

Only other Cal Poly intercollegiate athletic team to achieve a No. 1 ranking in Division I was the 1985 women's volleyball squad.

Cal Poly has won 10 straight games, 16 of their last 17 and 24 of 26. The Mustangs have swept six three-game series and have won all 10 series of three games or more this season. Cal Poly also split two games against USC in a rain-shortened series and is 6-0 so far in midweek games.

The Mustangs have not had a losing week this season and have not lost back-to-back games.

Cal Poly is 34-5 overall and is 11-1 for first place in the Big West, 1 1/2 games ahead of UC Irvine, which played out of conference over the weekend and lost two of three games at home against San Diego State.  The Anteaters are 8-1 in conference games and visit Cal Poly in three weeks.

The Mustangs were 17-3 midway through the 6-0 week for their second-fastest 20-game start in school history (the 1997 club was 18-2) and at 25-5 three weeks ago produced their fastest 30-game start.

Lee's squad earned their 20th win March 24, the fastest since the NCAA implemented its uniform start date in 2008. The Mustangs collected win No. 30 in the final contest of the Hawai'i series, their 35th game of the season, resulting in the fastest Cal Poly team to reach the 30-win milestone. In terms of the calendar, Cal Poly's 1977 squad won its 30th game on April 5, eight days earlier than the current squad.

Cal Poly has won 29 of its last 31 home games, including the final seven of the 2013 season, and 93 of its last 118 contests at home for a winning percentage of 78.8 percent. The Mustangs are 23-2 at home this season.

Other Big West teams ranked this week include UC Santa Barbara (24-10), as high as No. 19 by Perfect Game; and UC Irvine (24-11), ranked No. 21 by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. Cal State Fullerton (18-16) has dropped out of those polls but is receivig votes.

Before this season, Cal Poly's highest ranking since moving to Division I prior to the 1995 season was No. 12 by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper after jumping to a 17-4 start in 2009. The Mustangs went on to achieve their first Division I postseason playoff berth.

Last year Cal Poly was ranked as high as No. 16 by Collegiate Baseball and finished 21st with a 40-19 record, placing second in the Big West and earning a spot in the NCAA Division I regionals for the second time.

Cal Poly's first Division I national ranking came in 1997 when the Mustangs were as high as No. 27 by Collegiate Baseball. Cal Poly was ranked as high as No. 22 by Baseball America in 2006 after sprinting to a 9-2 start, but lost 12 of its next 19 games to fall out of the polls.

The Mustangs were briefly ranked by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper in 2007 after winning 10 of 12 games early in the season.

Ranked No. 1 in the other four polls this week is Virginia (33-7).

Cal Poly hosts San Jose State (12-28) on Tuesday night before travelling to Long Beach State (18-19, 5-4 Big West) for a three-game Big West series Friday through Sunday at Blair Field.

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