Teams: UC Davis at No. 1 UC Irvine
Records: Aggies, 10-36 (3-15); Anteaters 31-11 (17-1)
Where: Anteater Ballpark – Irvine, Calif.
When: Friday at 6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.
Who to watch? Infielder Justin Schafer has been on a tear as of late.
The Los Gatos, Calif. native has eight hits in his past four games, pushing his average to a team-leading .345. He also leads the club with a .415 on base percentage.
Did you know? The Anteaters‘ one Big West Conference loss came at the hands of Cal State Fullerton.
The Titans, the Big West’s other top-10 ranked club (No. 7), grabbed the final game of a three-game homestand with a 5-4 win in extra innings.
Preview: The Anteaters are the No. 1 ranked team in the nation, but the Aggies are a hot team with nothing to lose.
UC Davis has hit its stride late in the 2009 campaign. Winners of three of their last four, the Aggies have been hitting the ball well as of late, averaging seven runs a game over that four-game stretch.
A revitalized Aggie pitching staff has stepped up as well. UC Davis is allowing an average of just over four runs per game in its last three victories, down significantly from its season ERA of 6.97.
In Tuesday’s 9-1 win at Santa Clara, Aggie starter Anthony Kupbens pitched six shutout innings of one hit ball.
None of that, though, changes the fact that when UC Davis steps onto the field at Anteater Ballpark, it’ll be facing off with the nation’s best team.
“They are a very fundamentally sound team,” coach Rex Peters said. “They’re going to throw strikes and play very good defense. They’ll put the ball in play offensively and play a short game that will put a lot of pressure on your defense. They are a good college baseball team that just plays the game well. They don’t beat themselves.
“We’re going to have to play a clean game to have a chance to beat them. I’ve said it all year – we can’t get caught up in our opponents. We have to play our game first. We need to throw strikes and play defense. We’ve been better at that lately, and we’ll need to be flawless this weekend.“
– John S. Heller