A date with conference-leading Cal State Fullerton at Goodwin Field this weekend gave UC Davis a chance to make a good impression against the four-time national champions.
The Aggies (26-15,7-5) played threeclosely-decided contests with the15th-ranked Titans (26-15,11-4) and managed to take oneof three in the weekend set.
“We knew going in thatwe could compete with them,“ saidhead coach Rex Peters. “We would’ve loved to win a series on the road against a quality program likeFullerton, [but] we did get one.We felt like we had to at least do that.“
Friday– CalStateFullerton5,UC Davis3
UC Davis has come to expect a quality start every Friday,butit is learningthata quality startby itself isn’tenough.
Senior right-hander Eddie Gamboa allowed only three earned runs in seven innings,but seniorTitanright-handerJeff Kaplan was slightly better in the series-opener and carried Cal State Fullerton to a5-3win.
“We knew that our starterswere going to give us a chance to win,” Peters said.“But we knew we were going to face some good arms too.“
Gamboa scattered four overall runs on eight hits,but also struck out five while walking none.On the other side,Kaplan went eight innings and allowed just two runs while fanning eight.
Sophomore third baseman Ty Kelly led the Aggie offense,going3-for-5with his fourth home run of the season.The two-run shotcame in the fifth when UC Davis knotted things up at2-2before Cal State Fullerton responded with a pair ofitsown in the bottom half.
Saturday– UC Davis3,CalStateFullerton2
The Aggies haven’t beenfazed by early deficits much this season,and Saturday was no different.
Cal State Fullerton put up a pair of runs on the board early,but UC Davis responded with a three-run fifth to edgethe Titans,3-2,for its second win against a ranked opponent in two weeks.
Junior right-hander Brad McAtee turned in one of his best starts of the year,allowing just two runs– one earned– on four hits while striking out a season-high seven batters.The performance earned the Poway,Calif.native Easton Big West Pitcher of the Week honors.
“He did a great job,” Peters said.“He got a lot of ground balls and had good movement in the strike zone.Brad gave us a good start.“
Junior outfielder Ryan Scomakeyed the Aggies‘ pivotal fifth with a two-run double that supplied the last two runs of the inning and the game.
“We just needed that one inning to get the lead and hold on [with] some help from thebullpen,” Peters said.
Sophomore reliever Andy Suiter and junior closer Justin Fitzgerald shut the door on the Titans with two scoreless innings to finish thecontest.
Sunday– CalStateFullerton8,UC Davis5
If the first two games were evidence of anything,the Aggies and Titans were in store for another close game to end the weekend.
Unfortunately for the Aggies,their gloves created too much distance for them to make up.
A throwing error by freshman shortstop Scott Heylman in the seventh inning led to three unearned runs,which proved to be the difference for Cal State Fullerton as it took the weekend set with an8-5victoryin front of2,346.
“There were some things that we didn’t do as well as we would’ve liked on defense and in our offense execution,” Peters said.“And at some point,our bats are not going to be as hot as they were in the past.Weare going to have to do some[other] things to win games.“
Going into the bottom of the fifth,the contest was still tied3-3before the Titans plated two runs on an RBI double and steal of home by sophomore outfielder Josh Fellhauer.
JuniorAggieright-handerBryan Evans struggled in his start,lasting only four innings while giving up five runs on six hits and two walks.
“I think most importantly,we showed that we could play with these types of teams,” Peters said.“We could’ve easily won two games this weekend.“
UC Davis returns home for a rematch withNo.3Stanford on Wednesday at2:30p.m.at Dobbins Stadium.In the two teams‘ last meeting on Apr.9,the Aggies topped the Cardinal in12innings,9-8.
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