With a severely depleted roster, UC Davis was forced to play Pacific with one arm tied behind its back.
The newest injury has sidelined stud shortstop Justin Shafer and as a result, the Aggies must rely on some unfamiliar faces.
“We only have 22 healthy guys on our roster,” said coach Rex Peters. “You’ve got to go with what you have and hopefully it’s good enough to win. If the players are here playing at this level, they should be able to compete.”
The Aggies couldn’t deliver on the mound or push enough runs across the plate to take this Big West Conference series from the rival Tigers.
Friday – Pacific 12, UC Davis 1
At the beginning of the year, a start from Dayne Quist was practically an automatic win for UC Davis.
Unfortunately, the Aggie ace has faltered of late causing his earned run average on the season to balloon to 5.91.
Peters was worried that Quist may have been tipping his pitches. When Quist gave up nine runs on 12 hits against Pacific on Friday, Peters said that the pitcher just wasn’t on his game.
“He was just getting pitches up and they were hitting them,” Peters said. “Give them credit. When a pitcher leaves off-speed stuff up in the zone, you have to hit it and they did.”
In total, Quist pitched four innings and struck out four. CJ Blom gave the Aggies five innings of relief while allowing three runs on four hits and four walks.
Saturday – Pacific 7, UC Davis 5
After a disappointing defeat on Friday, the Aggies looked to improve against the Tigers on Saturday.
Though it suffered a loss, UC Davis played well enough to win as it out-hit Pacific 16-14.
“We swung the bats pretty well,” Peters said. “I thought we had a pretty good approach against their left-handed starter so we had a lot of hard hit balls. We left a lot of guys on base and they didn’t so the difference was they got their hits with guys on base.”
Third baseman Paul Politi, designated hitter David Popkins and second baseman Justin Andrade led the Aggie offensive attack with three hits apiece.
With Schafer out of the lineup due to a muscle injury, Politi hit third for the first time this season. Peters was pleased with what he saw from his freshman slugger.
“He’s come a long way as a hitter,” Peters said of Politi. “Every time he practices taking a swing it’s with a purpose. He’s probably been the most improved player we’ve had all year.”
With all the injuries UC Davis has experienced, the squad has been forced to experiment with different lineups and defensive alignments. With little wiggle-room, Peters looked for his team to show grit to get a win in the final game of the series.
“I don’t have any options,” Peters said. “We’re so banged up health-wise, we’ll use the same lineup. The guys just have to find a way to win.”
Sunday – Pacific 11, UC Davis 7
The shortened UC Davis roster was again the story of the game on Sunday.
Despite giving up eight runs, the Aggies left Lyman on the mound for 140 pitches, by far the most he’s ever thrown in one game.
“We didn’t have a lot of guys to go to in that pen,” Peters said. “We used some guys up on Friday and Saturday so we let him go a little longer than normal.”
In total, Lyman threw 5.2 innings while allowing 10 hits, seven walks, seven earned runs and striking out seven.
After taking a series from Cal State Northridge a week ago, UC Davis is understandably disappointed to be swept by Pacific.
“We had a couple opportunities defensively to make some plays and get out of some innings but we didn’t do it,” Peters said. “You can’t walk 10 guys and play shoddy defense against one of the better offensive teams in the conference and expect to win.”
MARK LING can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.