Teams: UC Davis vs. UC Santa Barbara
Records: Aggies, 21-27 (5-13); Gauchos, 21-26 (7-11)
Where: Caesar Uyesaka Stadium – Santa Barbara, Calif.
When: Friday at 2 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.
Who to watch: If there was one player that the Aggies relied on offensively, it would be David Popkins.
The sophomore, who hails from San Diego, Calif., added to his impressive numbers on Tuesday as he went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored against Nevada.
On the season, Popkins leads the team in batting average (.357), on base percentage (.457), slugging percentage (.526) and runs scored (33).
Did you know? UC Davis has a bright offensive future.
Of the top-seven Aggie starters ranked in terms of batting average, none are seniors and only two are juniors.
Preview: UC Davis’ biggest weakness will need to be its strength this weekend against UC Santa Barbara.
With a 6-2 lead entering the fifth inning, the Aggies were on the right track against the Wolfpack on Tuesday. Unfortunately for UC Davis, Nevada posted four runs in the fifth to tie the game at six, then plated two more runs in the seventh to ultimately win 8-6.
The game against the Wolfpack was a microcosm of the Aggies’ recent struggles during which they have lost eight of their last 11 contests.
Their problem is not building a lead. What they struggle with is closing out opponents once they have the lead.
The good news is that UC Davis will have its three best pitchers on the mound to start each game of the series. Though they have been inconsistent, Dayne Quist, Sean Watson and Scott Lyman are all capable of going the distance in any given game.
Last weekend against Cal Poly, Quist pitched seven, Watson threw eight and Lyman lasted 7.2 innings. In order to win the series, UC Davis will need good, long starts out of these three hurlers.
When the Aggies faced the Gauchos a season ago at Dobbins Stadium, UC Davis lost the series 2-1 and was outscored 30-13.
No Aggie starter lasted more than 5.1 innings, including Quist, who allowed seven runs and three walks while only striking out one.
However, as UC Davis has consistently proven, the 2009 season was not a good ruler with which to measure this year’s performance.
A much more successful Aggie squad with an improved offense should have little problem dispatching the Gauchos if they can avoid giving up runs after the sixth inning.
– Mark Ling