UC Davis won the first game of the weekend series against Big West Conference opponent UC Riverside with another strong pitching performance from senior starter Dayne Quist, improving his record to a perfect 6-0 on the year.
Senior David Popkins hit his team-leading fourth home run of the season in Saturday’s game, but the Aggies gave up six unearned runs and their rally fell short.
The Highlanders shut down the Aggie bats in the Sunday matchup for the series win.
UC Davis drops to 14-20 overall and 3-6 in the Big West.
Friday — UC Davis 7, UC Riverside 2
Senior Dayne Quist continued his season dominance with an eight-innings, 11-strikeouts performance in the series opener.
Quist allowed two runs, only one of which was earned, en route to his second double-digit strikeout game of the season. He struck out five straight in the first and second innings alone.
Seniors Eric Johnson and Scott Kalush led the Aggies offensively, each going 3-for-3 at the plate.
UC Davis jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning after Popkins doubled and moved to third on senior Paul Politi’s infield single. Sophomore Nick Lynch singled to score Popkins, and Johnson doubled to bring home both Politi and Lynch.
The Aggies struck again in the third with a two-out rally. Johnson walked, senior Brett Morgan singled to right field and Kalush walked to load the bases.
Freshman Evan Heptig drew a bases-loaded walk and redshirt freshman Tino Lipson singled off the first baseman’s glove, scoring Kalush and Morgan to give UC Davis a 6-0 lead.
The Aggies added one more in the fifth after Kalush tripled and Heptig grounded out to short for his second RBI of the game.
Sophomore Harry Stanwyck took over the mound from Quist for the ninth inning, retiring the side in order and striking out two.
Saturday — UC Riverside 7, UC Davis 6
Popkins hit his fourth homer of the season and Morgan went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, but UC Riverside had a five-run third inning and then held off a late UC Davis rally to claim the win in the second game of the series.
Popkins’ home run gave the Aggies a 2-0 lead in the third, but the Highlanders came storming back in the bottom half of the inning on a leadoff single and a UC Davis error to take the 5-2 advantage.
“The big error that led to the five-run inning was Anthony’s error,” said Head Coach Matt Vaughn. “He didn’t pitch terrible, he strikes out their three and four hitters after that, but then he gives up a base hit that scores a run and we didn’t buckle down after that. Unfortunately that’s been our thing all season — one little thing goes wrong and we make it much bigger than it is. But Anthony knows that and he’ll come back strong.”
UC Riverside tacked on another run in the fourth to extend its lead to 6-2, but the Aggies began to rally in the sixth. Politi led off with a single and moved to second on a throwing error. Sophomore Spencer Brann singled Politi to third base and Morgan’s base hit brought home the UC Davis third baseman to make it a 6-3 ballgame.
UC Davis tied it in the eighth when Morgan led off with a walk and scored on an RBI base hit from Lipson. UC Riverside regained a one-run advantage in the bottom frame.
The Aggies managed to put runners on first and second in the ninth, but a pickoff at first base gave UC Riverside the hard-fought victory.
Sunday — UC Riverside 8, UC Davis 0
Senior starter Tom Briner struck out five batters in six innings of work, but UC Riverside claimed the series over UC Davis after shutting down the Aggie bats in the finale.
UC Riverside’s Trevor Frank threw a complete game, limiting the Aggie offense to just three hits while striking out four. Lynch, Politi and Heptig were the lone players to record hits for UC Davis.
This isn’t the first time the Aggie bats have come up empty on Sundays with such a congested schedule, and Vaughn addressed that with his team before the game.
“We have to figure something out for Sundays,” Vaughn said. “You can say you’re tired, but everyone does it, everybody plays two weekends on the road in a row, and it’s nothing to whine or complain about. We just have to find a way to compete in every game we play in. We win Friday, have a great comeback effort on Saturday, and then not to compete [on Sunday] is just unacceptable.”
UC Davis will travel to the University of San Francisco today for a matchup against the Dons. Sophomore Evan Wolf will take the mound for the Aggies, making his fourth start of the season and looking for his first victory, first pitch at 2 p.m.
RUSSELL EISENMAN can be reached at email@example.com.