UC Davis baseball blanks Cal Poly 3-0 in important conference win
In front of the beautiful sunset backdrop of Sacramento’s Raley Field — home of the San Francisco Giants’ Triple-A affiliate, the Sacramento River Cats — the UC Davis baseball team shut out its conference rival, the Cal Poly Mustangs, in a 3-0 victory on Friday, April 14. The change of scenery proved to be beneficial for the Aggies, as the team ended its five-game losing skid and responded in winning fashion to Thursday’s 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Mustangs.
Junior pitcher Orlando Razo stole the show, tossing a complete game while only allowing two hits and striking out 10 batters. Razo finished the night with six one-two-three innings and, at one point, retired 15 Mustangs in a row.
“Establishing the fastball early” was the key to the night’s success, according to Razo.
“We made a point to do that since the beginning of the season, establish fastball in the bottom half of the zone and then work off-speed after,” Razo said. “Today the curveball was working well from the beginning so I was throwing more of those. I’m fortunate to be able to have two off-speed pitches that I can rely on and throw for strikes.”
Razo’s off-speed and curveball pitches were untouchable for most of the night. After walking two batters in the first inning, Razo turned up the heat to pitch four straight three-up, three-down innings, utilizing his drop-off changeup to strike out six batters over that span. Despite this impressive individual performance, Razo gave all the praise to his teammates.
“We were able to establish a good rhythm tonight and Ignacio Diaz did a great job behind the plate,” Razo said. “Just putting [his] fingers down and blocking the ball because we were going out of the zone a lot. He just did a phenomenal job and the defense did a phenomenal job as well.”
UC Davis came alive offensively in the second inning. After senior first baseman Cameron Olson reached on an error by the Cal Poly third baseman, senior catcher Ignacio Diaz singled to put two Aggies on base with no outs. Next up to bat was junior center fielder Alex Aguiar, who connected on a pitch and lined the ball to right center for a two-run double that put UC Davis ahead. Later in the inning, junior right fielder Ryan Hooper added another run on a sacrifice fly that scored Aguiar.
The Aggies tallied six hits on the evening and stayed ahead 3-0 throughout the rest of the contest. A three-run lead was plenty to work with for Razo, who had a no-hit bid through five innings that was eventually broken up when a ground ball squirted into left field with two outs in the sixth. Even though the chance for a no-hitter was lost, the game certainly was not. Razo remained in the game until the very end, holding the Mustangs scoreless en route to pitching his first complete game as an Aggie and earning his fourth win of the season. Again, Razo hailed his teammates for having his back defensively in each of his nine innings of work.
“It’s just being able to trust your teammates,” Razo said. “Being able to know that there is a good defense behind you, throwing strikes, and getting ahead [in the count]. It’s really tough to pitch behind in the count, when [the other team is] zeroing in on one pitch, so you keep them guessing the whole time, getting ahead and just being aggressive.”
With the win, the Aggies improved their record to 9-17 on the season. That is still not where the team wants to be, but head coach Matt Vaughn believes the victory is important for starting the Aggies off on the right foot for the second half of the season.
“It feels really really good,” Vaughn said. “Based on the way we lost a couple games last weekend, we needed something big, and Orlando delivered it for us. For me, he put this team on his back and said ‘come on you guys, I’m gonna get this one.’ And he did. He’s a bulldog, he’s tough and I think our guys feed on it a little bit. We can still do some things better offensively and we have to figure that out as we go, but hopefully we have time and we can build on his effort today. [He’s] just a really really tough kid. He’s a leader.”
The Aggies finished the home series against Cal Poly the following day, when the Aggies lost 9-6.
“There is a lot of season left,” Vaughn said. “I’m hoping that our guys are seeing that we’re competitive all the time and if we can just eliminate a mistake or two here and there, we can get back in this thing. I know it’s boring and I know it sounds cliché, but it’s a one pitch, one game at a time deal.”
Written by: Dominic Faria — firstname.lastname@example.org