We definitely expected Cal Poly to have a good club this season, but to finish 45-10 and as the clear-cut champions of the Big West Conference? Color us at least a little bit surprised. With that said, this is a very, very good team stacked up against what is a very underrated NCAA Regional field. Cal Poly enters the weekend hitting .300 with Mark Mathias (.378/2/36) and Nick Torres (.323/5/47) leading the charge. Meanwhile, Jimmy Allen is a spark plug for the Mustangs and Brian Mundell has some serious pop in his bat despite having just four homers this spring. Chris Hoo (.320/1/37) and Zack Zehner (.329/2/15) are other key bats to watch … On the mound, righthanded pitcher Casey Bloomquist has taken a big step forward this season and evolved into Cal Poly's most consistent starting pitcher, while lefthanded pitcher Matt Imhof, who can get up to 92-93 with good overall stuff and likely will be a first-round pick, has a 2.55 ERA in 91 2/3 innings of work. Meanwhile, the Mustangs have a solid bullpen with Taylor Chris (0.91) and hard-throwing righty Reed Reilly (1.67, 10 saves, 43 innings) leading the way.
Arizona State has quietly put together yet another solid campaign. Though these Sun Devils aren't overly flashy, they absolutely have the pitching necessary to make some noise this weekend. The Devils have a very good one-two punch in the weekend rotation with lefthanded pitchers Brett Lilek and Ryan Kellogg leading the way. Lilek has a big-time arm with very good overall stuff and has a 2.59 ERA in 83 1/3 innings of work, while Kellogg, whose big outings in the past have been well documented, has a 3.84 ERA in 96 innings. In the bullpen, keep an eye on hard-throwing righty Ryan Burr. Burr was put in the weekend rotation earlier this season, but it was quickly realized he belonged in the bullpen. Burr continues to flash a big-time arm and has 12 saves with a 3.32 ERA in 43 1/3 innings. The Devils have also gotten solid innings from Jordan Aboites (3.27) this season … Offensively, this isn't your dad's ASU offensive lineup, but it still can be scary at times. Athletic Drew Stankiewicz (.337/3/26) leads the offense, while Nathaniel Causey has been a consistent threat this season. Also watch out for Johnny Sewald (.306/0/19) and Dalton Dinatale (.300/3/34).
Pepperdine has flown under the radar much of the season, but it's worth will be proven this weekend in NCAA Regional play. The Waves have a very balanced overall club with an offense hitting .286 entering the weekend. Freshman catcher Aaron Barnett has been a consistent offensive threat with a .378 batting average and .402 OBP, while two-way star Aaron Brown continues to shine both at the plate and on the mound. Meanwhile, Hutton Moyer (.300/0/21), Bryan Langlois (288/3/29) and Austin Davidson (.265/4/31) all are guys to watch, while athletic Manny Jefferson provided a spark last weekend in the WCC tournament … On the mound, veteran righthanded pitcher Corey Miller (1.70) pounds the strike zone and is a consistent arm, while Matt Maurer (3.18) and Jackson McClelland (3.41) both are quality arms, especially McClelland, that have the ability to shut you down. Lastly, Chandler Blanchard (1.29), Eric Karch (1.80) and A.J. Puckett (2.78) are solid, consistent, arms out of the bullpen.
Sacramento State is a scary four-seed this weekend. Reggie Christiansen's club scuffled at times earlier this season, but are very solid overall. The Hornets are good enough to where Cal Poly is forced to throw lefthanded pitcher Matt Imhof in the opener. The Hornets are led on the mound by junior righthanded pitcher Brennan Leitao, who once again had a solid season with a 2.21 ERA in 110 innings, while there's been plenty of buzz about hard-throwing reliever Sutter McLoughlin, who has a 1.85 ERA in 43 2/3 innings … Offensively, athletic outfielder Rhys Hoskins might've gotten off to a slow start this season, but now is hitting .330 with 12 homers and 53 RBIs, clearly meeting expectations, while David Del grande is another power threat, and Nathan Lukes leads the team in hitting with a .357 average and 23 RBIs.