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Cal Poly nabs three major Big West Baseball honors

Cal Poly had 11 players earn All-Big West honors

SAN LUIS OBIPO, Calif. - After a fantastic turn-around effort from 2023, Cal Poly (35-22, 20-10 BW) raked in the conference honors as eight different Mustangs shared eleven total distinctions, led by Ryan Stafford, Alejandro Garza, and Griffin Naess who all won major awards.

Throughout 2024, Cal Poly experienced numerous record-breaking feats from the athletes awarded on Thursday. In particular, Ryan Stafford, the nation’s #3 catcher as ranked by D1Baseball, became Cal Poly’s career doubles leader while four-year veteran and fan favorite Joe Yorke shattered the program’s career RBI mark.

Ryan Stafford
Big West Defensive Player of the Year

Stafford, who has received at least one conference nod every year of his career, put an exclamation point on what could be his final season of college baseball before being drafted.

For his prowess behind the dish that earned him a spot on the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, Stafford was honored by the Big West as Defensive Player of the Year after starting all 57 games this season.

The junior backstopper added yet another accolade to his decorated Mustang career, Stafford is also a semi-finalist for the Buster Posey Award.

Nominated for being one of the best catchers in NCAA Division I baseball, pacing the entire conference by a wide margin with 22 runners caught stealing certainly helped Stafford's case.

That also takes him to 45 for his career and third in Cal Poly’s Division I era. Stafford also held a .990 fielding percentage and set a personal career-high 438 putouts.

Alejandro Garza
Big West Freshman Field Player of the Year

A true freshman from Bakersfield, Garza made such an immediate and definitive impact on the Mustangs that head coach Larry Lee trusted him to man third base for the remainder of 2024.

On top of making a surprising amount of highlight-reel athletic plays from the hot corner, Garza was easily one of the team’s most consistent contact hitters day-in and day-out.

Garza collected 20 multi-hit games and at one point held the team’s fourth-longest hitting streak of the season at 10 games.

He was also 3rd on the team with .346 AVG and fourth with 71 H, as well as fifth with 27 R, 28 RBI, and 17 BB.

Most impressively, Garza was the 3rd toughest batter to strikeout in the entirety of Division I baseball after getting sat a paltry 10 times on strikes during 205 at-bats.

Griffin Naess
Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year

Like his teammate, Naess had a shocking and sudden rise into a regular starting role for the Mustangs after beginning the year as a reliever and pitching well enough to entrench himself in the third spot of Larry Lee’s starting rotation.

Naess’ first career start yielded Cal Poly’s sole series win over a Big-10 team in the program’s D1 era with the Laguna Beach native tossing 5 scoreless innings while allowing only 3 hits to the Ohio State Buckeyes.

However, the Laguna Beach native’s crowning achievement during his freshman year came almost three weeks later. Naess helped throw the program’s first one-hitter since 2005 as the 6-foot-6 right hander held a no-hitter into the game’s final inning alongside posting a personal season-high 7 strikeouts.

Naess finished the season with a 3.58 ERA through 73.0 IP and 62 strikeouts, all coinciding in his flawless 7-0 record.

(Article courtesy of Cal Poly Athletics)

Article Topic Follows: College Sports

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Mike Klan

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