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Davis, California

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Power struggle

The Big West Conference battle between UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara featured seven home runs hit between the two teams in the three-game series.

Freshman Kevin Barker accounted for two of those home runs, including a two-run blast on Saturday to help lead the Aggies, who had 16 total hits in the game, for their lone win against the Gauchos.

The Aggies may feel they could have come away with more, as a wild pitch allowed the winning run in a 3-2 loss in the series finale.

UC Davis drops to 16-23 overall and 4-8 in the Big West.

Friday — UC Santa Barbara 8, UC Davis 2

Senior starter Dayne Quist’s perfect season ended (6-1) as he suffered his first loss after a six-run second inning by UCSB.

UC Davis started off with the lead after Barker’s first career home run in the top of the second made it 1-0.

But the Gauchos’ freshman starter Andrew Vasquez settled in and shut down the Aggie bats, pitching seven innings with eight strikeouts and only giving up the solo shot to Barker.

UC Davis, in what seems like a theme for the season, hurt itself with two errors in that big second inning for the Gauchos.

“The errors have cost us opportunities to win games,” said head coach Matt Vaughn. “When you look at the whole picture, though, it’s not just one thing. We really haven’t played that terrible of defense.”

The Aggies added a run in the ninth after junior Austin Logan doubled to lead off and eventually scored on sophomore Adam Young’s sacrifice fly.

Saturday — UC Davis 10, UC Santa Barbara 6

Freshman Tino Lipson went 3-for-5, Barker hit his second home run in as many days, and the UC Davis offense exploded for 16 hits to take the second game of the series.

Senior starter Anthony Kupbens went seven innings and gave up just two earned runs while striking out three.

Down 1-0 in the top of the third, Lipson led off with a single. Senior David Popkins followed with a runs-batted-in double, but was picked off at second base. Junior Paul Politi singled and advanced to second on a fielder’s choice. Up stepped Barker who blasted a two-run shot over the left-centerfield wall to give the Aggies a 3-1 lead.

With the score 4-1 in the fifth, senior Scott Kalush hit a three-run homer after Logan singled and freshman John Williams walked, all with two outs. It was Kalush’s second homer of the season and the first time since April 30, 2011 that UC Davis hit multiple home runs in the same game.

UCSB rallied in the seventh with three hits and took advantage of an Aggie error to pull within one run at 7-6.

In the ninth, sophomore Spencer Brann was hit by a pitch with one out, and then Barker doubled down the left field line.

An intentional walk loaded the bases and a wild pitch brought home one run. Then, after another intentional walk, senior Ryan Allgrove doubled to left, scoring two and making it 10-6.

Sophomore Harry Stanwyck pitched the final two innings, holding the Gauchos hitless and striking out three.

Sunday — UC Santa Barbara 3, UC Davis 2

Senior starter Tom Briner carried a one-hitter into the sixth and senior Brett Morgan was 2-for-3, but UCSB eked out the win in the series finale.

The game was scoreless until the sixth inning when Popkins drew a walk and then moved to third on a single by Politi. Sophomore Nick Lynch hit a sacrifice fly that brought Popkins home for a 1-0 UC Davis lead.

Briner gave up a hit in the second inning, and then retired 12 straight Gaucho batters until Steven Moon hit a solo shot in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game at 1-1.

UC Davis scored again in the seventh after Morgan singled, advanced to second on a wild pitch, reached third on an error and then scored on a passed ball.

But UCSB’s power-hitting tied the game again in the seventh after another solo home run.

With runners on first and third and one out in the eighth, Stanwyck relieved Briner, but a wild pitch brought home the runner and gave UCSB its first lead of the game at 3-2.

The Aggies moved a runner to third base in the ninth but couldn’t knock him in. They stranded a total of 10 runners in the ballgame.

“We are hitting around .200 with runners in scoring position,” Vaughn said. “If we hit just 50 points higher, we’ll win a lot more games.”

UC Davis closes its eight-game road trip with a visit to Fresno State on Wednesday, first pitch at 6:05 p.m.

RUSSELL EISENMAN can be reached at sports@theaggie.org.


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