UC Davis baseball gives up three in ninth to lose 7-4 to UConn
The UC Davis baseball team opened up its weekend series with a 7-4 loss to the visiting University of Connecticut Huskies last Friday. An exciting game start to finish, the Aggies fell behind early and then rallied to take a slim lead behind some key at bats. But they could not close it out, as an offensive burst by the Huskies in the ninth inning sealed the Aggies’ fate, dropping them to 4-8 on the year.
The starting pitching matchup featured the Aggies’ 6’4”, left-handed sophomore Robert Garcia against the Huskies’ P.J. Poulin. At first, it was Poulin who looked the sharpest. He pitched a shutout through the first two innings while Garcia gave up a run in each of his first two innings. Down 2-0, the Aggies rallied to score three times in the bottom of the third to take a one-run lead. Back-to-back RBI singles from junior third baseman Brad Pluschkell and sophomore second baseman Cameron Briggs tied the game at two. A couple of at bats later, junior Guillermo Salazar, batting in the designated hitter spot, slapped down an infield single to knock in the third run.
“It was good that I was there in that spot,” Salazar said. “I wanted to [designated hit] and luckily I had another chance in my third at bat to take the lead again. I just wanted to execute every [at bat].”
Salazar did exactly that. After a scoreless fourth, the Huskies tied the game at three on a two-out double in the top of the fifth. In the bottom of the inning, the Aggies responded with a two-out rally of their own. Following back-to-back strikeouts, sophomore left fielder Ryan Anderson doubled on a line-drive down the third base line. Salazar stepped in and smacked a ball into left center field for another double that to drove home another go-ahead run for the Aggies.
“We battled well,” Salazar said. “[Poulin] was supposed to be pretty good coming in and we knew that. We put the pressure on early and answered back after we went down. Just couldn’t put it together at the end.”
In three innings, the Aggies managed to score three runs on six hits off of Poulin and added their last run on Salazar’s RBI double in the fifth. Just as Salazar mentions, however, the rest of the game proved frustrating for UC Davis. The Huskies scored on an RBI single in the seventh inning to tie the game at four, but the Aggies prevented further damage on the next at bat by turning a five-three-five double play.
The club played stout defense in the eighth as well. Pluschkell showed off his skills with a spinning grab on a sharply hit ball to third base, complete with a cannon toss over to first in time to get the second out of a three-up, three-down inning. The Aggies looked like they were about to score in the eighth inning when senior catcher Ignacio Diaz reached on a one-out single, completing his perfect four-for-four day at the plate. But on the next at bat, the Aggies hit into a six-three double play to end the inning.
The game finally broke open again in the ninth, as the Huskies ripped a one-out RBI double down the third base line to open up a four-hit, three-run inning. Junior pitcher Blake Peters, despite a solid three and one-third innings of work, was credited with the loss. He exited the game with one out and one runner on in the ninth, and was replaced by his fellow junior pitcher Zach Stone, who ultimately gave up the final two runs.
The Aggies, facing a three-run deficit in the bottom half of the inning, were in position to threaten the Huskies after both junior center fielder Alex Aguiar and senior pinch hitter Mark Cardinalli drew walks. With one out and two runners on, the Aggies’ next two batters were struck out to end the inning, shutting the door on any hopes of a comeback.
Despite the team’s late collapse, Salazar remained optimistic about UC Davis’ chances to take the next two games from UConn.
“[We feel] pretty confident,” Salazar said. “As long as our pitchers pitch the way that they can and if we keep hitting the way we were today I think we should be fine [and] we should take two and win the series.”
The Aggies looked to get back in the winning column on Saturday and Sunday for the final two games of their series against the Huskies, but came up short. On Saturday, the Huskies emerged victorious with a 9-6 win and on Sunday the Aggies won 8-7 to avoid a blowout.
Written by: Dominic Faria — email@example.com