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Davis, California

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Aggies claim two of three from Highlanders in opening Big West series

Sunday’s come-from-behind victory kicks off conference play for UC Davis baseball

To kick off Big West season play, the UC Davis baseball team faced off in a three-game weekend series against the UC Riverside Highlanders. After a rocky preseason, the Aggies looked to start conference play off on a strong note.

The Friday series opener turned out to be a very pleasing start for the Aggies, as they blew out UC Riverside 10-2. The Saturday afternoon game, however, did not end up in their favor. UC Davis fell to the Highlanders in a tight 4-3 ballgame.

Rounding out the series on Sunday afternoon, the Aggies looked to capture their first Big West series win of the season, with senior southpaw Chris Brown taking the mound.

On the first play of the game, the Aggies committed an error that eventually resulted in an unearned run against Brown. Soon after, the Highlanders designated hitter Connor Cannon launched a two-run home run well over the left-center field fence. Although Brown did not have an ideal opening to the game, he settled down after the first inning until he was relieved by sophomore Nick Johnson.

Behind 4-1 to begin the bottom of the sixth inning, UC Davis rebounded by scoring two runs on a string of hits into the outfield, and closed the deficit to one run.

Kicking off the bottom of the 7th inning, junior outfielder Cooper Morrison drew a tough walk that sparked a four-run inning when he was later brought home on a two-run double by junior catcher Logan Denholm. Morrison came in for senior outfielder and leadoff batter Garret Kelly, who went down with an injury. Morrison was not fazed by the moment at all, as he’s batted second and fourth in the previous two games. The seventh inning rally was capped by junior infielder Alejandro Lara, who hit a line drive to left center that scored a run and gave the Aggies a 7-4 lead.

Possessing a lead for the first time in the game, the eighth inning began with UC Davis letting a runner get on base. But junior righty Steve Ouellette ended the inning swiftly and gave up no runs. Morrison then delivered once again in the bottom of the inning with two outs, driving in senior infielder Cameron Briggs to extend the lead to 8-4.

Attempting to close out the game, Ouellette gave up a two-run shot with one out in the top of the ninth, bringing the score to 8-6. Nevertheless, the Aggies were able to finish with a 8-6 victory. The win put the Aggies at 2-1 in Big West conference play and 8-12 on the year, with Johnson earning his first win of the season.

“What I’m proud of is, this was an adversity day,” said Head Coach Matt Vaughn. “Our guys fought back after essentially giving them four runs to start the game, so that’s a good thing going forward. This conference is really good and we need to keep getting better every day.”

Sunday’s game was the only one of the series where Morrison did not start, but when he was inserted back into the lineup, he was eager to make his mark and did so, going 2-2 with an additional walk.

“I was focused on the bench, so when my opportunity came, I felt the need to take advantage of it, and everything worked out,” Morrison added. “We came back, and [just] good vibes honestly.”

The Aggies’ next full series will start on Friday at the University of Hawaii and will continue on into the weekend.

“Hawaii is a tough place to stay focused,” Vaughn said. “You get off the plane there and it feels like you’re on vacation so hopefully we can get there and understand what we’re there for and just keep getting better.”

The next home series for UC Davis is set to start on April 12, when the Aggies will take on Cal Poly.

“The series [against UCR] went very well,” Morrison said. “It was good to win a series at home. It was big to come back in the 6th, 7th and 8th. Kind of carries into next week, next game — Pacific, then Hawaii — which is a lot of fun. It’s key to win games at home in conference so hopefully we can keep it rolling.”

Written by: AJ Seymour — sports@theaggie.org


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