Teams: UC Davis vs. Cal State Northridge
Records: Aggies, 32-21 (11-10); Matadors, 23-30 (7-14)
Where: Matador Field – Northridge, Calif.
When: Today at 3 p.m.; Saturday at 1 p.m.; Sunday at 1 p.m.
Who to watch: In addition to helping their team chase a playoff berth this weekend, sophomore third baseman Ty Kelly and junior catcher Jake Jefferies will both also be chasing .400.
Kelly (.405) would need to go at least 4-for-12 and Jefferies (.389) at least 8-for-12 this weekend to become just the second and third players in school history to reach the plateau. Dave Nix is currently the only player to have reached it, hitting .401 in 1995.
Did you know? The Big West Conference has sent three or four teams to the NCAA regional playoffs 13 times. UC Davis is currently just one game behind UC Riverside and No. 14 UC Irvine for fourth place in the conference standings going into the final Big West series.
Preview: The Aggies have their minds set on just one thing this weekend – a series victory.
“We definitely have to win this series,” head coach Rex Peters said. “We’ll just go down to Northridge and try to win at least two games.“
UC Davis is two games out of third place in the Big West, and a sweep would put it in the best position to earn an NCAA regional playoff berth.
The nationally-ranked teams in the conference, No. 6 Cal State Fullerton, No. 14 UC Irvine and No. 25 Long Beach State, are all in good position to make it to the postseason, but UC Santa Barbara (34-19, 13-8) and UC Riverside (19-32, 12-9) are both threatening to take the fourth Big West playoff spot from the Aggies.
“We just have to understand that we’re playing pretty good baseball and we’ve been in every game against tough opponents,” said Peters, who will be serving a league-mandated one-game suspension today for his actions following an ejection in last Sunday’s game. “It’s been a really good season, but if you get this far, you want to continue and take that next step and get into the postseason.“
The Aggies will send senior ace Eddie Gamboa (6-3, 2.55) to the hill today while the Matadors will counter with freshman right-hander Drew Muren (3-5, 5.03).
On Saturday, junior UC Davis right-hander Brad McAtee (7-4, 3.27) will take the mound against senior right-hander Phil Hann (4-5, 3.90). Junior Aggie right-hander Bryan Evans (3-3, 5.06) will close out the regular season in a matchup with freshman Matador right-hander Ryan Juarez (3-4, 6.45).
Cal State Northridge is only seventh in the conference in runs scored, but junior outfielder Richard Cates is among the top hitters in the Big West, batting .361 with 41 RBI, both team highs.
UC Davis is 15-11 on the road this season, third best in the conference. Meanwhile, Cal State Northridge is a mediocre 15-15 at Matador Field, just seventh among Big West home records