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Davis, California

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Aggies quick to take series from Dirtbags

All season long, the Aggies have been plagued by inconsistency.

UC Davis may have found the cure in its convincing series win over Long Beach State this weekend.

The Aggies took two of three against the Dirtbags on the road, outscoring them 20-5 for the series.

Coach Rex Peters said a convincing series victory over the Dirtbags served as a bit of a confidence-booster.

“It was a good weekend in a lot of ways, and I think this team found out what it needs to do to be competitive in [the Big West] Conference,” Peters said. “We realize that we have to do it together, take it one pitch at a time and stay focused.”

UC Davis moves to 7-9 overall and 2-4 in conference play.

Friday – UC Davis 8, Long Beach State 1

The Aggies snapped their four-game skid in convincing fashion over the Dirtbags.

Senior Scott Heylman led UC Davis at the plate with three hits and six RBI, as the Aggies cruised to the 8-1 win.

Peters praised Heylman’s all-around effectiveness.

“Heylman played really well this weekend both on offense and defense,” Peters said. “He played just as beautifully defensively as he did offensively.”

Despite giving up a first-inning run, junior pitcher Scott Lyman kept the Dirtbags at bay, surrendering just seven base runners over eight innings.

“That was by far his best game of the year,” Peters said. “He commanded the zone with two pitches. When he’s got one thing to concentrate on, I think it helps his focus.”

Junior reliever David Popkins took over pitching duties in the ninth inning. Facing just four batters, Popkins proved to be the Aggies’ go-to guy.

“We need a couple of guys in the bullpen to get the big outs at the end of a game,” Peters said. “The most reliable [relief pitchers] are Popkins and Briner, so we’re going to go to them in the late innings to get outs for us.”

Saturday – UC Davis 11, Long Beach State 1

Apparently a seven-run win wasn’t good enough for the Aggies – they needed a double-digit victory.

Heylman led at the plate once again, going 4-for-5 with three runs. Seven additional Aggies contributed to the active offense, gathering a collective 15 hits on the outing.

After Long Beach State took a 1-0 lead in the first frame, UC Davis tied up the game in the second and broke it open in the fourth with six runs.

Peters said his team was simply ready to face the Dirtbags.

“I think we had a pretty good plan and approach to who we were facing,” Peters said. “We created some big innings, and it was a really good team effort.”

In addition to their strength at the dish, junior starter Anthony Kupbens took charge on the hill. Kupbens surrendered only one run in eight innings of work.

Sunday – Long Beach State 3, UC Davis 1

A common issue for the Aggies showed up on Sunday – failure to convert on scoring opportunities.

UC Davis had 10 hits for the afternoon, yet just one runner crossed home plate.

One bright spot was junior transfer Ryan Allgrove who went a perfect 3-for-3 on the day to lead the Aggies.

“Some opportunities were going to come their way,” Peters said. “[Allgrove] has been swinging the bat well in batting practice, and he came through with three hits.”

While they earned a pair of victories, the Aggies more importantly found out what they had been lacking all along.

“I think we learned a lot about ourselves as a team this weekend, and what it means to compete in this conference,” Peters said. “We swung the bat and got some big hits when we needed to, and we got some pretty good starts out of our starting pitchers.”

GRACE SPRAGUE can be reached at sports@theaggie.org.


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