Sophomore Ryan Anderson extends hitting streak to 15 games
72 degrees and sunny skies over Phil Swimley Field set the stage on Sunday for an unfortunate loss by the UC Davis baseball team to the UC Riverside Highlanders, 11-6. Despite the loss, the Aggies still captured the three-game weekend series 2-1. Going into Sunday’s game, UC Davis had already clinched the series, making this its second consecutive Big West series win and fourth overall since the start of the season.
Starting on Friday, the weekend series began with an extra-inning walk-off single by sophomore right fielder Ryan Anderson into deep right-center field to top UC Riverside 4-3. This was his third game-winning hit of the year and extended his hitting streak to 13 games. Senior designated hitter Cameron Olson went yard for his seventh home run of the season along with a clutch pinch-hit by senior left fielder Mark Cardinalli to tie up the score and force extra innings.
Friday’s game was followed by another UC Davis win in shutout fashion, led by senior right-handed pitcher Justin Mullins. The final score was 2-0. Mullins allowed only four hits through eight innings, striking out seven Highlanders and giving up just four walks before junior right-handed pitcher Zach Stone took the mound to close out the game. Scoreless through seven, a key double by senior shortstop Jacob Thomas and a single by Anderson drove in one run — continuing his hitting streak to 14 games — and senior catcher Elijah Ontiveros hit an RBI for a 2-0 final score after nine innings.
On Sunday, UC Davis’ sophomore left-handed pitcher Robert Garcia (2-5), named Big West Pitcher of the Week after his three-hit shutout against UC Santa Barbara last week, faced off against UC Riverside’s junior right-handed pitcher Richard Delgado (0-2) to wrap up the series. While closing out the top of the first in three-up-three-down fashion, the Aggies were unable to respond at bat through the fifth inning.
The scoreless game finally broke open at the top of the fifth as UC Riverside ripped three doubles and a single to bring in four runs, sending the Aggies to the bottom of the fifth inning in a 4-0 deficit.
The Aggies answered back in the bottom of the fifth as a walk to first by freshman right-handed pitcher Andreas Lara and a double down the infield line by Cardinalli put two runners in scoring position. Next at bat was sophomore second baseman Cameron Briggs, who ripped a single right up the middle to score Lara and Cardinalli and give UC Davis two runs. After a sacrifice bunt by senior first baseman Mason Novak and an infield ground out by Ontiveros, Briggs advanced to third base. With the Aggies just 90 feet away from a crucial run, junior center fielder Alex Aguiar struck out swinging to end the inning.
In the top of the sixth, the Highlanders tacked on one more run with the score of 5-2 remaining until after the seventh-inning stretch. After a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh gave Cardinalli a free ride to second base, putting him in crucial scoring position, Ontiveros was able to drive a single to third base, scoring Cardinalli and bringing the score to 5-3.
Anderson extended his hitting streak to 15 games in the bottom of the eighth with a single to left field, placing him in the number five spot on the UC Davis Division I-era all-time list, four games shy of a UC Davis franchise record.
“I try not to think about [the hitting streak],” Anderson said. “I just want to focus on the ball and making contact […] game by game.”
Going into the top of the ninth inning, the close-scoring game was blown wide open by UC Riverside as it rallied six runs, in part due to two costly errors by UC Davis. An intentional walk to junior right-handed pitcher Blake Peters to force the fielder’s choice backfired as two singles and a double by the Highlanders ended the inning with a comfortable 11-3 lead going into the bottom of the ninth. A late-game rally began to form as a double by Novak and single by Aguiar yielded three runs for the Aggies, but after freshman shortstop Jacob Thomas struck out looking, the game’s final score was UC Riverside 11, UC Davis 6.
The errors made on Sunday by the Aggies were hard to take in but need to be understood in order to wrap up the final eight games of the season, including one more Big West series down south at UC Irvine.
“It’s the end of a long weekend,” said head coach Matt Vaughn. “The team that comes out on Sunday and wants it more, focuses more will win the game. Towards the end [of the game] we had two errors that opened the door for them to make it a runaway game. We didn’t give ourselves a chance with the defense.”
Anderson remained optimistic despite the third-game loss.
“There were a lot of things that could have been done better in [Sunday’s] game for a different outcome,” Anderson said. “Overall, we won the series, so that’s good.”
Vaughn is looking forward for the team to learn from Sunday’s loss and apply it in the latter games of the season.
“It was a disappointing performance after how we played the last two days,” Vaughn said. “We’d have liked to do better. We weren’t good enough in any aspect of the game today, that’s something we’ve got to work on going forward. Hopefully they take the positive of the series win and move forward.”
UC Davis will have another opportunity to improve its ball handling this week when the Aggies host Grand Canyon University for another three-game homestand at Phil Swimley Field.
Written by: Ian Jones — firstname.lastname@example.org