Solid pitching, quality at-bats, late-inning heroics – the young UC Davis baseball team ended its season-opening weekend with all the look of last year’s playoff team.
The Aggies bounced back from a pair of losses on Friday and Saturday by picking up an extra-inning road win on Sunday against No. 12 UCLA.
“We knew we were coming down and playing a good team this weekend,” coach Rex Peters said. “We were hoping to get two [wins]. You definitely want to get one win, and you want to get all of your guys‘ feet wet. We did that. We came away with one win, and we got a lot of innings in for our young guys.“
UC Davis hosts San Francisco (1-3) at Dobbins Stadium today at 2:30 p.m. in its home opener.
Friday – UCLA 13, UC Davis 1
The Aggies pitching staff had a few cobwebs to shake off in its season opener.
Rob Rasmussen and the Bruins, meanwhile, looked to be in midseason form.
Rasmussen threw five innings of scoreless two-hit ball while UC Davis‘ struggles to find the plate caught up with it in the fourth inning of a 13-1 UCLA win. Five Bruins walked and another was hit by a pitch as part of the seven-run inning.
In total, the Aggies walked 12 batters, beaned two others and threw a pair of wild pitches in the game.
“We got to throw strikes, limit our free passes,” Peters said. “That’s really got to be a staple of ours every day, and we didn’t do it very well on Friday at all.“
Saturday – UCLA 5, UC Davis 2
Andy Suiter couldn’t fight back his excitement.
The junior lefthander was at his former ballpark, facing his former team in his first collegiate start.
In the end, the emotions may have gotten the best of him.
Suiter issued six walks, gave up three hits and four earned runs in 2.0 innings, and Bruins protected the lead despite strong bullpen work by the Aggies for a 5-2 win.
“It was definitely an emotional game for him, and I think that got to him a little bit,” Peters said. “I think he tried to overthrow and do a little too much because of it. Again, Andy’s a guy that’s got really good stuff, but when he gets excited, he can lose his command because of that. It was just an emotional game that he got caught up in.“
UCLA was held to only one run and three hits in the final five innings by a trio of Aggies making their college debuts.
Freshman Tyler Bremer followed Suiter with four innings of one-run relief. Redshirt freshman Dayne Quist and former Aggie water polo standout Adam Bennett then finished off the game by allowing no hits in either of their frames.
Quist induced an inning-ending double play after walking two batters and beaning another to load the bases. The Aggies walked 11 for the game and hit three Bruins.
“We kind of got away with it,” Peters said of the control issues. “The first two days we didn’t command the strike zone well at all, but it’s early in the year. Pitchers will get their command as the year goes on, and hopefully we improve and just keep getting better.“
On offense, Fresno City College transfer Jared Thompson helped manufacture both of UC Davis‘ runs.
The outfielder hit a sacrifice fly to right in the fourth to score Ty Kelly from third. In the seventh, after reaching on a base hit and advancing to third on a Kyle Mihaylo walk and Grant Hirneise single, Thompson was sacrificed in by a Rikki Foster fly ball to left.
Sunday – UC Davis 8, UCLA 7 (11)
Peters called it a team effort.
Anybody who saw Jeremy McChesney sprinting home at Jackie Robinson Stadium would have had a tough time disagreeing.
The Aggies‘ Friday starter entered Sunday’s game as a pinch runner in the ninth. The senior went on to cap a game-tying, two-run rally by scoring from second on a Tony Bongiovanni single, and back-to-back doubles in the 11th by Mihaylo and Hirneise provided the winning run in UC Davis‘ 8-7 victory over UCLA.
“It was just a good team win,” said Peters, who played 16 position players and six pitchers. “The kids showed some character to fight back and tie it up and eventually take the lead and hold on to it against a very quality UCLA team. It was a very positive way to end the weekend.“
Bennett and Quist both built on Saturday’s performances. Bennett allowed one walk and a hit in 3.0 scoreless innings, and Quist (1-0) held the Bruins in check for the game’s final 1.2 innings to pick up the win.
MICHAEL GEHLKEN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.