The UC Davis baseball team’s weekend featured a doubleheader, a walk-off home run and stellar pitching as it took two of three from Big West Conference foe Pacific.
The Aggies dropped a midweek clash in the Causeway matchup versus Sacramento State, but will have a chance to avenge the loss today in a rematch against the Hornets.
UC Davis is now 13-18 overall and 2-4 in conference play.
Wednesday — Sacramento State 11, UC Davis 4
Freshman Tino Lipson went 3-for-4 and junior Paul Politi and sophomore Nick Lynch contributed two hits each, but UC Davis could not convert and fell to its capital-city rivals.
Trailing 8-1 in the top of the seventh, the Aggies made their move to get back in the game. Lynch led off with a single and advanced on a wild pitch. Senior Brett Morgan singled and senior Scott Kalush hit a sacrifice fly to score Lynch. Freshman Kevin Barker and junior Austin Logan hit back-to-back singles to score Morgan. Lipson hit a sacrifice fly to score Barker and UC Davis was right back in the ballgame with the score 8-4.
The Hornets responded in the bottom half of the inning, however, recording four hits, with three of them doubles to retake a commanding lead.
The Aggies rallied in the eighth and ninth innings but couldn’t knock in the runners.
Saturday (Game 1) — UC Davis 1, Pacific 0
UC Davis was happy to return to Dobbins Stadium for the first time in eight games, as senior Dayne Quist and third baseman Politi made it a homecoming to remember.
With plenty of Major League Baseball scouts on hand, Quist (5-0) outlasted a pitcher’s duel with Pacific’s Michael Benson. Quist gave up only three hits and one walk while striking out nine.
“I feel I’ve been throwing a lot of strikes and commanding all my pitches well, but really being in the moment and being excited to go out there for every single pitch has allowed me to have some success,” said Quist, in the understatement of the season. “Part of being a senior and realizing this is my last go-around has really helped me stay in the moment and enjoy that moment.”
Despite the dominance from Quist, UC Davis headed into the bottom of the ninth inning tied with the Tigers with no runs. With one out, Politi stepped to the plate and drove the first pitch he saw over the left-field wall.
“I was looking for a first-pitch slider, something in that I could drive, and that’s what the pitch was,” Politi said, who had very little time to celebrate his first home run of the season. “It was kind of a struggle, because you get really pumped up, but then you have to get ready for the next game.”
Saturday (Game 2) — UC Davis 9, Pacific 7
Nick Lynch went 3-for-5 with six runs batted in, and sophomore Harry Stanwyck picked up the two-inning save as UC Davis held off Pacific in a back-and-forth ballgame.
The Aggies took a 3-0 lead after senior Eric Johnson drove in Barker in the second inning and Lynch’s single down the left-field line in the third scored Popkins and Lipson.
The Tigers tied it in the fourth, but UC Davis responded in the bottom half of the inning. Kalush doubled, freshman Evan Heptig walked and Lipson was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Popkins’ sacrifice fly brought home Kalush, then Lynch hit another two-RBI single to score Lipson and Heptig.
In the bottom of the sixth, Lynch hit a double that scored Popkins and Lipson, and then Morgan’s RBI base hit allowed Lynch to come around for the Aggies’ second three-run inning of the ballgame.
Stanwyck was called upon in the top of the eighth with two runners on base and the score 9-6. He limited the damage and got a 4-6-3 double play to end the game in the ninth after giving up a leadoff single.
Sunday — Pacific 1, UC Davis 0
Senior Tom Briner pitched a four-hit complete game and UC Davis compiled 10 hits, but the Aggies were unable to bring home a runner and lost the series finale.
“We pitched well enough to win three games, but this weekend is kind of the story of our year,” said Head Coach Matt Vaughn. “Quist’s effort and Briner’s effort were outstanding. We got a great effort out of the bullpen [Saturday]. We’re not scoring a lot of runs. Fortunately, our pitchers are keeping them from scoring a lot of runs so we can stay in these games.”
Briner didn’t give up a hit until the fourth inning, and Pacific scored on a groundout in the top of the fifth.
The Aggies led off the bottom of the ninth with back-to-back singles from Popkins and Politi. Lynch attempted to sacrifice bunt, but the ball went quickly to the pitcher who threw Popkins out at third. Johnson struck out swinging and Morgan then grounded out to second base to end the game.
UC Davis has a rematch against Sac State this afternoon, this time at Dobbins Stadium. The Aggies will look to shut down the power-hitting Hornets in the Causeway matchup, first pitch at 2:30 p.m.
RUSSELL EISENMAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.