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Friday, October 15, 2021

Aggies can’t close out Mustangs

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Headline: Aggies can’t close out Mustangs

Layercake: UC Davis loses series, finishes on positive note

By MARK LING

Aggie Associate Editor

These losses are the hardest to swallow.

In the first two games of the weekend series against Cal Poly, UC Davis had the lead in the ninth inning and ultimately lost.

“It’s beyond me,” said starting pitcher Sean Watson. “I haven’t played on a team where it’s been like this. It’s brutal.”

Despite the blown leads, the Aggies bounced back in the final game of the series to take care of the visiting Mustangs.

Friday – Cal Poly 6, UC Davis 4 (12)

The starting pitching was impeccable.

Sophomore Dayne Quist was back to his dominant ways as he threw seven innings of one-run ball and recorded four strikeouts.

The only blemish on the day was the five walks he issued to Cal Poly hitters. Despite the free passes, coach Rex Peters was pleased with Quist’s performance.

“[Dayne] gave us a quality start and gave use a chance to win with a lead late in the game,” Peters said. “That’s all you can ask. When pitch counts get up you have to get guys out of the game. He did his job.”

After Quist exited, relievers Nathan Slater, Matthew Lewis, CJ Blom and Scott Heinig combined to allow five earned runs over five innings to lose the lead.

When asked if he trusted his bullpen, Peters had a simple response.

“Obviously not,” he said. “We’re trying to find somebody who can go out there and show some toughness and compete to get outs late in a game. The last six outs of the game are the toughest to get. Nobody on our staff wants to go get them.”

One positive note that can be taken from the contest was the production of the UC Davis offense.

In total, the Aggies had 10 hits, highlighted by Scott Lyman who went 2-for-5 with three RBI and hit a two-run home run.

First basemen Eric Johnson and David Popkins also had two hits apiece.

To lose a game in this fashion is hard to swallow, though. “Terrible,” Watson said. “Here we are for four-and-a-half hours then lose in the 12th inning. It’s hard to handle.”

Saturday – Cal Poly 5, UC Davis 4

Unfortunately for UC Davis, the second game of the series was a spitting image of the first.

Watson gave the Aggies one of the best starts of his career as he went eight innings while allowing only two earned runs on six hits and walked one.

“My changeup was definitely working for me,” Watson said. “I threw it for a strike all day long. I threw every pitch for a strike, really. I’m not trying to throw the ball hard every time. I’m just doing whatever it takes to get guys out.”

UC Davis gave Watson an early lead thanks to some timely hitting and shaky command form the Cal Poly pitching staff.

“We executed a hit and run early in the game to set that inning up for us,” Peters said. “We got a couple of good at-bats with guys on base to score some runs. We didn’t swing the bats very well but Watson gave us a chance to win and we couldn’t finish it for him.”

They couldn’t finish because of another shaky performance from the bullpen.

Watson entered the ninth inning having thrown over 100 pitches and proceeded to give up a run. He ultimately exited with runners on base and no outs.

Popkins and Slater were called upon to close out the game. But for the second night in a row, UC Davis relievers struggled to get the job done. The pair gave up two more runs in the inning, giving Cal Poly a 5-4 lead it would not relinquish.

“Watson was over the 100 pitch limit,” Peters said. “I don’t know if he’s thrown that many pitches all year. He didn’t get the first couple guys out so we had to get him out of there.”

Sunday – UC Davis 8, Cal Poly 2

After suffering two tough losses at the hands of the Mustangs, the Aggies showed what they’re made of.

Lyman took the mound and threw 7.2 innings while allowing nine hits, five walks and two runs.

At the plate, the Aggies recorded 11 hits, with two apiece coming from Lyman, Kyle Mihaylo, Scott Heylman and Justin Schafer .

This time around, reliever Scott Chew was able to close out the game as he pitched 1.1 innings with one hit and one strikeout.

While the win to end the series is encouraging, UC Davis remains disappointed in its overall performance.

“We’re better than this,” Watson said. “We know we’re better than this.”

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

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