Teams: UC Davis vs. Pacific
Records: Aggies, 16-30 (3-15); Tigers, 12-31 (4-14)
Where: Klein Family Field — Stockton, Calif.
When: Friday at 6 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m.; Sunday at 1 p.m.
Who to Watch: With the Aggies struggling again as of late, there is a scarce amount of players who have really shown that they are capable of being a consistent threat. However, sophomore Tino Lipton has been pretty consistent.
The first statistic which jumps out when looking at Lipton’s stat line are his stolen bases. Lipton leads the team in stolen bases with seven steals in nine attempts. This is a pretty solid conversion rate and definitely helps the Aggies get more runners in scoring position.
Lipton, who is also hitting a respectable .298 and has two triples on the season, has been able to get on base quite frequently. As a result, he boasts a solid .376 on-base percentage. Lipton’s ability to get on base has allowed him to be third on the team in runs scored, with 23 runs scored this year.
Once again, the Aggies simply need to find a way to drive in the much needed runs. Hopefully, senior Paul Politi, sophomore John Williams and junior Steven Patterson — the three RBI leaders on the team — can drive in some runs over the weekend.
Did you know? UC Davis is tied for first place in the Big West conference in terms of team batting average, alongside UC Irvine. With a .285 team average, after the weekday game against Sacramento State, the Aggies have been hitting the ball pretty well.
With players like junior Nick Lynch, who is hitting a blistering .362 this season, it is no surprise that UC Davis is so highly ranked in terms of batting average. However, the Aggies’ struggles lie not in getting on base, but in keeping runs off the board.
UC Davis is ranked second-to-last in the conference in ERA. With a team ERA of 5.36, the Aggies’ pitching staff is simply not giving the offense any room for error. UC Davis simply cannot allow other teams to score this many runs, as it forces the Aggies’ batting order to have a phenomenal game every game, which is simply unrealistic.
Preview: There is hope for the slumping Aggies as they play the second-worst team in the division, the Pacific Tigers, during this upcoming three-game weekend series. The Tigers, who have struggled mightily this year, are last in the Big West in both team ERA and batting average.
They simply have not been able to hit the ball, with the leading run producer, freshman Brett Sullivan, hitting only .233. Sullivan has only two home runs and 23 RBI, which are far from gaudy numbers. This is very much the norm for the toothless Tigers’ batting order. Pacific only has four batters who have contributed significant at-bats and are also hitting above .270.
In comparison, the Aggies have been hitting the ball well, especially of late. With eight of the UC Davis players who have received significant at-bats, hitting over .270, the Aggies definitely have the edge in terms of hitting prowess.
Senior Paul Politi has a chance to have a monster weekend. As the Aggies’ major power hitter, with five home runs and 31 RBI, Politi should fare well against a Pacific pitching staff which has given up 19 home runs this season.
This weekend will be a true pitching battle between the Aggies and the Tigers. However, it will probably be for all the wrong reasons, as both teams have struggled tremendously pitching the baseball. With Pacific boasting a massive 5.55 ERA and UC Davis holding a marginally superior 5.36 ERA, this weekend will most likely be a run-scoring frenzy.
Whichever team is able to manage to slow the other team’s offense down at least a slight bit, should have a significant edge. Junior Evan Wolf did pitch pretty decently in his last start against Cal State Northridge, surrendering only three earned runs in six and two-thirds innings.
The weekend series seems to be the perfect scenario for the Aggies to pull out of their struggles. The Tigers have had a bad year hitting the ball, so they should pose no significant threat for the Aggies in the one area which UC Davis has struggled with all year: pitching.
The hot bats of the Aggies should be able to tear up the poor Pacific pitching staff and UC Davis should be able to provide plenty of run support for their pitchers. Hopefully, the Aggies can bypass the Tigers on their way up from the bottom of the conference with a few wins.
— Kenneth Ling