Cal Poly earns Big West title and automatic berth in NCAA Regionals
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -- Danny Zandona earned his second victory of the week, pitching 3.1 scoreless innings in relief, and Reed Reilly notched a two-inning save, his 10th of the year, as Cal Poly clinched its first Big West Conference baseball championship with a 3-2 victory against Cal State Northridge on Sunday.
With its sixth consecutive win, Coach Larry Lee's Mustangs finised the regular season with a 45-10 record and earned the automatic bid to the NCAA regionals.
It will be Cal Poly's third trip to the regionals, all in the last five years.
"It took long enough," said the 12-year Mustangs head coach said of the school's first Big West title in 18 seasons in the conference. "It feels good to get that first one out of the way and shows how difficult it is to win the Big West.
"I am proud of the way our players went about doing everything we asked of them," added Lee. "This is a good group, they play hard and know how to win. It's a very tight-knit group."
Zandona allowed just one hit, no walks and struck out one, retiring nine of the 10 batters he faced, to improve to 4-0 on the year.
The loss went to Matadors right-hander Jordan Johnson (3-5) as he allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings with three walks and three strikeouts.
"Our players deserve all the success they have achieved so far," said Lee. "Hopefully this is just the start of bigger and better things to come."
Cal State Northridge scored first, tallying a run in the second inning on a two-out double by Nick Blaser and an RBI single by Alexis Mercado.
Cal Poly answered with a run in the fourth. Zack Zehner and Chris Hoo singled and Peter Van Gansen's groundout scored Zehner.
The Mustangs snapped the 1-1 tie in the sixth inning. Zehner drew a walk and Jimmy Allen reached base when a bunt to Johnson was thrown into center field. Hoo's groundout to shortstop broke the tie and John Schuknecht singled to left field, scoring Allen.
Cal Poly's last conference title was in its final year in Division II, earning its fourth consecutive California Collegiate Athletic Association crown in 1994. The Mustangs finished second in the Big West three times -- 2005, 2012 and 2013 -- before breaking through this spring.
Torres, Zehner and Hoo each had two of Cal Poly's nine hits. Mathias added a double, giving him 41 hits in his last 44 games. Cal State Northridge's seven hits included a single and double by Chester Pak and Brett Balkan.
Cal Poly has won nine of its last 10 games.