Event: NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament – Stanford Regional
Teams: UC Davis vs. No. 15 Stanford vs. Pepperdine vs. Arkansas
Records: Aggies, 34-22; Cardinal, 33-21-2; Waves, 36-19; Razorbacks, 34-22
Where: Klein Field at Sunken Diamond – Stanford
When: Today at 5 p.m.; Saturday, TBD; Sunday, TBD
Who to watch: Fresh off winning the Big West Conference Co-Player of the Year Award with Shane Peterson of Long Beach State, junior catcher Jake Jefferies will look to lead the Aggies this weekend both in the cleanup spot and behind the plate. The Merced, Calif. native tallied a league-leading 93 hits and finished just short of the .400 plateau with a .396 batting average. He leads the team with 54 RBI and a .540 slugging percentage.
Did you know? The Stanford Regional is the only one in the 64-team national field consisting of four at-large bids. Among the teams denied an at-large bid this year are Oregon State (28-24), the back-to-back defending national champion, and Clemson (31-27), which had its regional berth streak dating back to 1987 snapped.
Preview: The Aggies may be playing at the Stanford Regional for their first-ever series of Division I postseason play, but they should feel right at home.
Back on Apr. 9, UC Davis played at Stanford and defeated the then-No. 10 Cardinal in 12 innings, 9-8. Last season, the two teams battled for 13 innings before Stanford finally won 4-3. Dating back to 2006, the Aggies have won four of the last five meetings.
“For some reason, Stanford just brings out the best in us,” said head coach Rex Peters. “Hopefully, that’ll occur again on Friday.“
UC Davis has never faced Arkansas, but played Pepperdine in a three-game series last season and was swept in Malibu. At one point this season, the Aggies and Waves were the two most prolific offenses on the West Coast. Lately, the UC Davis bats have trailed off a bit, but Peters says that it is to be expected when facing good Big West pitching.
“Good pitching has a tendency to negate good hitting,” Peters said. “I think having to face good arms lately will help us in this regional. I don’t expect us to go out there and throw up 10 runs on the scoreboard. If that happens, it’s great, but I think they are going to be fairly close, low-scoring games.“
The Aggies are 17-11 this season in games decided by two runs or less.
With the team’s regional contest today, Peters joins a prestigious class of baseball head coaches who have led teams to the postseason at all three NCAA levels. Peters thrice led Chapman to the Division III playoffs, and once guided UC Davis to the postseason in 2003 when it was Division II.
“I think it’s very impressive,” said Greg Warzecka, athletic director. “I think it just shows a fantastic career and the ability to lead teams to a high level of competition.“
Pepperdine and Arkansas will kick off the double-elimination regional tournament at 1 p.m. today while UC Davis and Stanford will take the field at Sunken Diamond following that game.
Today’s tentative pitching matchup will feature junior Cardinal right-hander Austin Yount (4-3, 4.22) and senior Aggie right-hander Eddie Gamboa (6-3, 2.67), who joined four other teammates on the Big West All-Conference teams earlier this week.
The weekend matchups are to be determined by today‘s outcomes, and the team that wins the Stanford tournament will advance to the 16-team super regionals to face the winner of the Fullerton Regional. After that semi-final round, eight teams will travel to Omaha, Nebraska for the 2008 Men’s College World Series.