SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Cal Poly has had a charmed season in 2014. The Mustangs won the Big West Conference title for the first time in program history with a 19-5 conference record. The 45 total wins shattered the previous record of 38 wins in a season in 2009. Lastly, Cal Poly will host its first-ever regional at Baggett Stadium this weekend while conference mates Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine and Long Beach State must travel to play.
The first game of the regional will be on Friday at 1 p.m. PT and will pit No. 2 Arizona State against No. 3 seed Pepperdine. Cal Poly will face No. 4 seed Sacramento State at 6 p.m. PT. The losers bracket game will be at 1 p.m. on Saturday with the winner’s bracket game at 6 p.m. The final game will be Sunday at 6 p.m. PT (Monday at 6 p.m., if necessary.)
NCAA Baseball Regional Preview – San Luis Obispo
Cal Poly (45-10)
The Mustangs ran away with the Big West Conference title and were crowned champion last week when UC Irvine fell apart down the stretch. Since joining the Big West Conference in 1995, the Mustangs had never won the conference championship and had only qualified for the postseason twice, in 2009 and 2013. Cal Poly has a mere 1-4 postseason record and has been eliminated in two Pac-12 ballparks, Arizona State and UCLA.
The Mustangs finished the regular season on a six-game win streak with nine victories in its final 10 games. They have been ranked in the top 10 most of the season and finished at No. 5 in three polls and at No. 6 in the other two major polls. Cal Poly has an unique opportunity to avenge its 2009 regional loss in Tempe when it hosts Arizona State.
Arizona State (33-22)
The Sun Devils had a shaky start to the season…and the middle wasn’t that great either. However, when it counted down the stretch, Arizona State closed the door on any questions and all doubters. Head coach Tim Esmay’s squad won nine of its 10 final games including a series win over Oregon in that stretch. The Sun Devils also won series over the current No.1 team in the country as well as the past two national champions. With that impressive resume, Arizona State was ranked No. 18 by Collegiate Baseball newspaper and received votes by all other major polls. The Sun Devils finished third place in the Pac-12 above nationally ranked Oregon.
Arizona State has an awe-inspiring 52 straight seasons of 30+ wins and has been to the postseason 14 of the past 15 years. (They missed the postseason in 2012 due to NCAA sanctions.) Its 22 College World Series appearances is third most all time as well as its 10 College World Series finals and five National Championships.
The West Coast Conference’s regular season and conference tournament champion Waves finished the season with seven wins in its final 10 games including an unblemished 3-0 conference tournament record. Pepperdine is nationally in all five national polls ranging from No. 23 to No. 25 across the board.
Although the Waves missed out on postseason play last season, this will be their 10th appearance in the past 16 years. Pepperdine has advanced to Omaha twice in program history, in 1979 when it placed third and in 1992 when they defeated Cal State Fullerton in the final to claim its only national championship.
Sacramento State (39-22)
Another regular season and conference tournament champion, the Hornets out of the Western Athletic Conference almost didn’t make the postseason. They lost the first game of the double elimination WAC Tournament to Bakersfield and had to defeat Utah Valley twice and did so, 10-4 in back-to-back games to earn the automatic bid. Sacramento State finished the season winning seven of its final 10 games and 2 games ahead of Grand Canyon University for the regular season crown.
This will mark Sacramento State’s first-ever postseason appearance. The Hornets play in the Big Sky Conference in most sports but is an affiliate member of the WAC in baseball only.