Teams: UC Davis at No. 14 Cal State Fullerton
Records: Aggies 11-13; Titans 18-10 (2-1)
Where: Goodwin Field — Fullerton, California
When: Friday 6 p.m.; Saturday 7 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m.
Who to watch: Freshman outfielder Kevin Barker leads the Aggies with a .349 average and seven doubles.
Add in a .414 on base percentage, and it’s no surprise he’s settled into the leadoff role.
Did you know? At least one Aggie was hit by a pitch in each of the first 21 games of the season. UC Davis has recorded a total of 49 HBPs in 2012, led by Brett Morgan who was hit eight times and Ryan Allgrove and Nick Lynch who have each been hit twice.
For head coach Matt Vaughn, the high number of HBPs shows his team’s strength.
“Our system is get to first base,” Vaughn said. “It shows toughness and buying in to a team philosophy. It’s an old cliché, but they really do take one for the team. We call it a 90-foot victory.”
UC Davis was hit a total of 63 times in all of 2011.
Preview: The UC Davis baseball team hits the road again this week to begin Big West Conference play against the two-time defending league champions, No. 14 Cal State Fullerton.
The Titans are favored to win the Big West again this year, and head coach Matt Vaughn knows this is the toughest team his Aggies will play in the conference.
“You see what you’re up against right away and the kind of team you have to place against in our conference,” Vaughn said. “They’re perennially a top-30 program in the nation, and it’s a good test for us right off the bat to find out where we’re at in relation to the conference.”
The pitching staff has been a major strength for UC Davis this season. Senior starters Dayne Quist, Anthony Kupbens and Tom Briner have all been pitching lights, totaling 97 strikeouts with only 14 walks between the three.
On the offensive side, the trouble for UC Davis hasn’t been getting runners on base, but knocking them home.
Vaughn stressed the importance of stringing base hits together and not leaving men on base.
The balance on the roster and the emergence of freshmen contributing regularly has the Aggies excited for the conference season. If pitching truly wins championships, then UC Davis is primed to make a run in the conference.
The journey begins Friday in Fullerton, first pitch at 6 p.m.
— Russell Eisenman