Heading into the 2011 season opener, coach Rex Peters said his Aggies were just anxious to play a team other than themselves.
Needless to say, to play Western Athletic Conference member and Causeway rival Sacramento State meant a little more than simply a change in opponent.
“Anytime you play your crosstown rival, you always want to come out on top,” Peters said. “We came up short, so obviously we’re disappointed that we couldn’t take the series.”
The Aggies dropped two of three to the Hornets in a series that evolved into one big duel on the hill.
What made Peters the happiest was his team’s overall dominant pitching performances.
“[Pitching is] something we’re going to have to do all year long to win games,” Peters said. “We did that all three games this weekend. Whenever you pitch like we did this weekend you’re going to have a chance to win.”
Sunday: Game 1 – Sacramento State 4, UC Davis 3
Lefty Dayne Quist shouldn’t be worried about nerves.
It took some time for the junior, opening-day pitcher to shake some off-season rust, however, as he gave up three of the Hornets’ four runs in the top of the first inning.
“Quist has been around long enough,” Peters said. “He shouldn’t have too many jitters. He’s been a notorious slow-starter, and then he gets into a rhythm and pitches well.”
Quist settled into a groove to walk just one batter in six innings, while posting two strikeouts.
Right fielder Scott Lyman and third baseman Paul Politi provided all the Aggies’ support at the plate – Lyman with a two-run homer in the third and Politi knocked a solo shot in the sixth.
Sunday: Game 2 – UC Davis 1, Sacramento State 0
Lyman also ran the offensive show for the Aggies in game two of Sunday’s doubleheader.
Lyman’s performance, coupled with the stellar outing on the mound by Anthony Kupbens, was enough for the Aggies to find the win column.
Kupbens pitched six innings, striking out six, walking one and giving up just three hits.
“That’s an outstanding first outing for Kupbens on the year and he pitched well,” Peters said.
Lyman singled through the right side in the bottom of the eighth inning to bring in Daniel Cepin. That run would wind up being the winning one.
While the Aggies managed a perfect defensive game, one element that Peters seeks to improve is a supporting cast for Lyman at the plate.
“Lyman swung the bat well all weekend,” Peters said. “He’s our most consistent hitter. We only scored six runs on the weekend, and he drove in four of them. We need to get more production out of the guys around him.”
Monday – Sacramento State 3, UC Davis 2 (10)
According to Peters, the final outs of a game are the hardest ones to get.
With the Sacramento State winning run at second and no outs in the bottom of the 10th, Tom Briner hit the mound for the Aggies looking to get his team out of the inning.
A wild pitch moved the runner to third, and a single by infielder Kirby Young was all the Hornets needed to drive in the run for the 3-2 victory.
While game three of the series wasn’t much different from the previous two, Peters said the third outing just came down to the team that made the fewest errors.
“We just made a couple mistakes that led to some unearned runs that cost us the ballgame,” Peters said. “We threw the ball away with a runner on third and two outs.”
After this afternoon’s game at San Jose State, the Aggies will look ahead to a weekend series against San Francisco beginning Friday at 2 p.m.
GRACE SPRAGUE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.