Teams: UC Davis at Cal State Fullerton
Records: Aggies, 12-9; Titans, 12-11
Where: Goodwin Field – Fullerton, Calif.
When: Today at 7 p.m.; Friday at 7 p.m.; Saturday at 1 p.m.
Who to watch: First baseman Eric Johnson is a force to be reckoned with.
The 6-foot-5 sophomore out of Los Altos, Calif. has started all 21 of UC Davis’ games this season and is second on the team in batting average (.367) and on base percentage (.446).
Never one to back down at the plate, his nine hit by pitches ranks second in the Big West Conference.
Did you know? Before the season began, Baseball America ranked Titans shortstop Christian Colon and centerfielder Gary Brown sixth and 24th respectively, as the best college prospects for the 2010 Major League Baseball draft.
When asked about the duo, UC Davis coach Rex Peters had high praise.
“Colon’s an incredible player, both offensively and defensively,” Peters said. “The bad thing about it is they have guys around him that can hit. Gary Brown is an electric player who can wreak havoc on the bases.”
Preview: Few things are more important in college athletics than conference play.
As a result, the Aggies have an opportunity to make a statement as they begin their Big West schedule against a team that is among the best in the nation.
“They’re an elite program that has a lot of tradition,” Peters said. “They’ll be tough to beat especially in their park and in that environment.”
Armed with the knowledge that they’ll be facing a dangerous opponent, the Aggies believe that sticking to their game plan is the best course of action.
“We’re going to go down there and play our game,” Peters said. “Hopefully [we’ll] throw strikes, play defense and do enough offensively to score some runs – just do what we do best.”
After playing 21 games this season, UC Davis is beginning to figure out what works best.
One of the more recent adjustments is allowing pitcher/outfielder Scott Lyman to take the day off at the plate when he is scheduled to start the game on the rubber.
“His two best outings on the mound were the starts that he wasn’t in the lineup,” Peters said. “It just gives him a chance to focus on his pitching and relax between innings. We’re going to continue to do it if it helps him pitch better.”
Now that the Aggie game plan is ready, all the team has to focus on is translating their talent into wins against vaunted conference opponents.
“There’s no easy weekends in the Big West,” Peters said. “We’re going to have to show up every series and fight for some wins because it’s going to be a close race down to the end.”
– Mark Ling