67.4 F

Davis, California

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

‘Eaters devour Aggies

The Aggies needed a break.

Before this game, UC Davis had five games in six days and, as a result, was short on pitchers.

“We needed the rest,” said coach Rex Peters. “I’m not really pleased with the way we played but physically it’s not good to be tired.”

Fortunately for the Aggies, they used only seven pitchers during the weekend series. The downside is that they were swept by the Anteaters by a total score of 31-5.

“We have to just face reality,” Peters said. “They’re a better team than us. They’re bigger, faster, stronger and play the game better.”

Friday – UC Irvine 8, UC Davis 1

Daniel Bibona is pretty darn good.

The Anteater pitcher, who will likely be playing professionally a year from now, shut down the Aggies in the first game of the series as he allowed just three hits, one walk and one earned run while striking out eight in eight innings pitched. The most impressive statistic is that Bibona faced only 28 UC Davis batters.

Despite the strong performance from UC Irvine, this game was closer than it appeared.

After seven innings, the Aggies trailed by a score of just 3-1 as starter Sean Watson was at the top of his game.

“He was throwing strikes,” Peters said. “He didn’t really walk anybody all game. He gave us a decent start and a chance to win.”

The 6-foot-9 southpaw out of Lafayette, Calif. returned to the mound in the eighth inning when the Anteater bats came alive. Thanks to an early error UC Irvine scored five unearned runs on both Watson and reliever David Popkins to blow the game open. The eight UC Irvine runs would prove to be too much for UC Davis to overcome.

“We just didn’t do enough offensively,” Peters said.

Only three Aggies recorded a hit as shortstop Justin Schafer, second baseman Scott Heylman and third baseman Paul Politi had one base-knock apiece.

Saturday – UC Irvine 13, UC Davis 0

The Aggies weren’t sure if things could get much worse after losing 8-1 in the first game of the series.

Unfortunately for UC Davis, they did.

Not to be outdone by his Friday counterpart, UC Irvine’s Saturday starter Christian Bergman dominated as he twirled a complete game one-hit shutout. UC Davis leadoff hitter Daniel Cepin [cq] singled on the first pitch of the game but was then caught stealing on a pitchout. Bergman then set down the next 26 consecutive batters, facing the minimum of 27 hitters in total.

“[Bergman] is like all their guys,” Peters said. “They’re not overpowering but they know how to pitch. We didn’t have a very good approach at the plate so we didn’t do much offensively.”

UC Davis starter Dayne Quist’s struggles continued as he lasted only five innings while allowing 11 hits, 10 earned runs and two walks in addition to recording four strikeouts. The large difference between Quist’s performance at the beginning of the year and now leads the Aggies to believe that he may be giving information away to the opposition.

“He might be tipping his pitches,” Peters said, “They had some pretty good swings on some pitches that you don’t normally see.”

Scott Heinig came in to relieve Quist and completed his longest outing of the season as he lasted four innings while allowing four hits, three runs and two walks.

“In a game like this you need a guy to come out of the bullpen and give you some innings,” Peters said. “That’s why he went a little bit longer than normal.”

Sunday – UC Irvine 10, UC Davis 4

While the final game of the series was more of the same, the UC Davis bats began to come alive.

In the end, the Aggies out-hit the Anteaters 11-9 but UC Irvine made the most of its opportunities as it won by a score of 10-4.

“They only walked three guys all series,” Peters said. “We walked seven alone in this game. You’re going to have a tough time winning if you do that.”

The Aggie hitters improved as Heylman, Politi and first baseman Eric Johnson each recorded two hits.

The UC Davis pitching staff, meanwhile, could have been better.

Starter Scott Lyman had trouble putting the Anteaters away as he allowed eight earned runs on seven hits and three walks while mixing in two strikeouts.

“He’s struggled with his command,” Peters said. “He’s not consistent enough. He hasn’t put together good starts on a regular basis.”

UC Davis will host California on Tuesday before another Big West series this weekend.

MARK LING can be reached at sports@theaggie.org.


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