May 29, 2013 9:11 PM by Bill Halter

The Mustangs Leading Man

Denver Chavez has overcome a slew of injuries throughout his career at Cal Poly to become a Big West 1st Team selection as a senior. Chavez was a bottom of the order hitter in his first three seasons with the Mustangs who was often asked to bunt players over rather than swing away. In his sophomore season he led the Big West with 17 sacrifice bunts. Now the switch hitter bats at the top of the lineup and is a big reason Cal Poly earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Mustangs are the number two seed in the UCLA Regional and will play the University of San Diego on Friday in Los Angeles.

Chavez' play in the field at second base has always been excellent despite hamstring and wrist injuries that plagued him throughout his first three seasons. With a good bill of health Chavez has put it together at the plate this season and become an ideal lead-off hitter. Chavez led the Big West in hits, runs and tied for the lead in stolen bases. "Just trying to see a lot of pitches. A lot of times I'll go up there and take the first pitch and try to see off speed and all this and then I'll come back and let the other guys know that it's a fastball if it's straight or whatever" said Chavez about leading off.

Chavez was second in the Big West batting race this season with a .362 average. He was successful on 17 of 18 stolen base attempts. "He's our spark plug. He's been leading off all year, getting our offense going. He makes the pitchers come to him, he's got a smaller strike zone which makes it a little bit tougher to throw strikes in there but when it's in there he'll hit it and he'll hit it hard" said fellow senior Joey Wagman who will start for the Mustangs on Friday against San Diego.

Chavez is the only Cal Poly player who was also on the 2009 team that made an NCAA regional. He was a redshirt and didn't play as the Mustangs went 0-2 in the Arizona State regional. Chavez had to wait until his final season to experience the thrill of making the playoffs as an active player. "I think the main thing is take it a game at a time and not really build it up so it's like oh no we're in this regional now it's like a whole different situation. I think if we just play like we've been playing all year I think we'll be fine" said Chavez.

21st ranked Cal Poly plays 25th ranked San Diego at 2:00pm on Friday. The Mustangs will play UCLA or San Diego State on Saturday in the four team double-elimination tournament.



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