The rabbits were bound to run out.
After weeks of dramatic comebacks, the UC Davis baseball team (25-13, 6-3) ran out of its rally magic this weekend, hitting a wall of quality pitching from Cal Poly (17-19, 5-7), to drop its first series of the season.
“Cal Poly always plays us tough, [so] it doesn’t surprise us,” saidhead coach Rex Peters. “It’s just a disappointment that we couldn’t win the series at home.”
Friday – UC Davis 3, Cal Poly 2
UC Davis wasn’t at the top of its game as a team Friday. Fortunately for the Aggies, their two best players were.
Junior catcher Jake Jefferies drove in all three of his team’s runs, including a walkoff single, to back senior right-hander Eddie Gamboa’s second complete game of the year in a 3-2 UC Davis win.
With two outs in the ninth and the bases loaded in a tied game, the leading hitter in the Big West Conference stepped up and delivered.
“I was just looking for a pitch to hit up the middle and got it,” said Jefferies, who finished 2-for-5.
Meanwhile, Gamboa continued to flash his signature efficiency on the mound, needing only 97 pitches to finish what he started.
“You can’t ask for much more from your Friday guy,” saidpitching coach Matt Vaughn.
“That’s just ‘Everyday Eddie,'” Jefferies said. “We just expect that kind of stuff from him.”
The Mustangs scored an unearned run in the very first inning, but then Gamboa (6-1, 2.22) retired 11 of the next 13 batters before allowing the last Cal Poly run in the sixth – also unearned.
“That’s the luxury of being a starter – you have time to make [it] up and readjust your pitches,” Gamboa said. “We also played some really good defense, got the leadoff guy out as much as we could and it led us to victory.”
Saturday – Cal Poly 10, UC Davis 5
It wasn’t quite the kind of open house the Aggies had in mind.
Cal Poly made itself right at home Saturday, getting comfortable with an early lead that it never relinquished, to spoil UC Davis’ Picnic Day celebration, 10-5, in front of a season-high attendance of 756.
“I think we just got outplayed,” Peters said. “We got outpitched, outhit and outdefended. They were better in all phases of the game today.”
A day after squeezing just a pair of unearned runs out of the Aggies’ ace, the Mustangs hit junior right-hander Brad McAtee hard and early.
Cal Poly struck for three runs on three hits in the first inning before adding another in the second. In all, the Mustangs knocked McAtee (5-3, 3.60) around for a season-high eight runs on 15 hits.
“He wasn’t getting ahead in counts like he normally does and his pitches were a bit up today,” Peters said. “(Cal Poly) is always a good offensive club, so you’ve got to compete hard on the mound to get them out.”
Sunday – Cal Poly 4, UC Davis 2
For the second straight day, Cal Poly jumped on the scoreboard early. For the second time this weekend, a starting pitcher took care of the rest.
Four runs of support in the first four innings was all Mustangs right-hander Steven Fischback needed as the sophomore went the distance in a 4-2, series-clinching victory over the Aggies.
“He was good and threw all three pitches for strikes,” said Jefferies, who finished 1-for-4. “If you can command three pitches, you’re going to keep hitters off balance, and for the most part, he did that.”
“I just threw fastballs away [to righties], cutters into lefties and a lot of offspeed pitches to keep them off balance,” said Fischback, who issued just one walk and struck out three. “They’ve got a good offense and they hit the ball hard, but I got a lot of ground balls too.”
The loss was only UC Davis’ sixth in its past 25 games. The Aggies will head back on the road to take on No. 15 Cal State Fullerton beginning Friday at 7 p.m.
RAY LIN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.