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Davis, California

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Bullpen and defensive woes plague Aggies

After reaching a high of a four-game sweep of Utah the week before, the Aggies’ (7-7) bullpen and defense failed them this past week as they dropped four straight contests before salvaging a Causeway Classic victory.

In the four losses, UC Davis relievers allowed 17 runs in 12 innings, while the Aggie defense committed 13 errors.

“If we cleaned that up, we’d have four wins [at home] this week,” sophomore outfielder Kyle Mihaylo said.

Wednesday – San Francisco 7, UC Davis 6

Junior Jake Jefferies is having a dream-like start to his junior season, but even the catcher’s four-hit performance wasn’t enough to wake up the Aggie bullpen Wednesday.

The Dons scored four runs in the final two innings at the Dobbins Baseball Complex to squeeze by the Aggies, 7-6.

Three UC Davis relievers combined to give up four runs – three earned – on six hits and two walks to spoil junior right-hander Bryan Evans’ two-earned-run quality start.

“We’re pitching behind in the count way too much,” said head coach Rex Peters. “We’re throwing fastballs right at the belt, and they’re getting teed off on.”

Thursday – Portland 11, UC Davis 10

Going into the top of the eighth inning with a 10-6 lead, the Aggies had a victory in sight. Then, their bullpen struggles reared their ugly head again.

The Pilots struck for five runs in the last two innings to throttle past UC Davis, 11-10, in the Aggies’ first game of the fifth annual River City Classic Tournament.

Jefferies went 2-for-4 with four RBI, three of which came courtesy of his three-run home run in the sixth inning.

“Scoring runs hasn’t been a problem,” Peters said. “When you’re scoring that many runs, you’d think you’d win some ballgames.”

On the mound, senior Aggies right-hander Eddie Gamboa didn’t get much help from his defense, which committed five errors in the contest. Despite having four of his six runs allowed coming unearned, Gamboa still went six strong innings while striking out eight Portland batters.

Friday – San Jose State 6, UC Davis 3

The good news for the Aggies on Friday was that their relief corps allowed just one run in three innings of work.

The bad news was that they didn’t have a lead to protect.

San Jose State took advantage of three hits and an error in the third inning to score three runs en route to a 6-3 win over UC Davis.

For the third straight game, an Aggie starter had a quality start in a losing effort. Junior right-hander Brad McAtee allowed nine hits and five runs overall in six innings, but only three of the runs were earned.

Saturday – BYU 11, UC Davis 8

What began as a streak of temporary defensive and pitching lapses Wednesday turned into a serious problem Saturday.

The Cougars feasted on the Aggies’ four errors and continued bullpen deficiencies to come out with an 11-8 comeback victory.

“We’re absolutely self-destructing in crunch-time innings,” Peters said. “We’re not making good pitches, and we’re not catching the ball on defense. You put those two things together and it’s a bad formula.”

UC Davis trailed 3-0 going into the bottom of the fourth inning before Kyle Mihaylo delivered a three-run shot over the left field wall to knot things up.

The Aggie bullpen couldn’t protect an 8-4 lead, allowing seven runs in the last three innings.

Sunday – UC Davis 12, Sac State 3

The Aggies went into the diamond edition of the Causeway Classic on a mission to redeem themselves, and they did so with flying colors.

UC Davis concluded the River City Classic by salvaging a win in the fourth and final game of the tournament with a 12-3 rout of rival Sac State.

After a week of severe bullpen struggles, senior right-hander Jeff Reekers gave his teammates the day off. The Moraga, Calif. native repeated his 2007 complete game against the Hornets by going the distance again Sunday, allowing just three runs on nine hits and a walk.

“This is a positive way to end the weekend,” Peters said. “Every team goes through a losing streak, and hopefully this win gets us going back in the right direction.”

RAY LIN can be reached at sports@californiaaggie.com.


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