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Thursday, May 16, 2024

UC Davis Baseball wins series against UC Riverside after 11-6 victory

Multiple Aggies shine in high-scoring game against the Highlanders


By PATRICK FIGUEROA — sports@theaggie.org

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On April 24, the UC Davis Aggies faced the UC Riverside Highlanders in the final game of their three-game series. The Aggies won the first game 13-11 but lost the following one 7-5. In order for the Aggies to win their second series of conference play, they needed to defeat the Highlanders in the third matchup of the series. 

Right-handed second-year Carter Delaney was the starting pitcher for the Aggies in game three. Delaney had a respectable 4.00 earned run average (ERA) in 27 innings but was yet to receive a win this season going into the game. The Highlanders’ starting pitcher was right-handed redshirt third-year Blake Burzell, who has struggled this season with a 14.36 ERA in 15.2 innings. 

Following a 1-2-3 top of the inning from Delaney, the Aggies’ batters ambushed Burzell. After the first two batters, third-year outfielder Damian Stone and second-year outfielder Mark Wolbert, were walked, third-year infielder Alex Gouveia hit a single to right field that drove in the first run. The Highlanders immediately removed Burzell from the game for right-handed first-year pitcher Cameron Tracy. Then, the Aggies’ second-year infielder Nick Leehey hit a sacrifice (sac) fly to score a second run. After one inning, the Aggies were up 2-0. 

Highlanders’ third-year infielder Anthony McFarland earned a walk at the top of the second inning. Second-year outfielder Jacob Badawi came up to the plate and put the ball in play. Delaney fielded it but made an errant throw to first base that allowed the runners to advance to second and third bases. Two sac flies would drive in both runners and tie the game 2-2. 

The Aggies’ offense quickly made up for the error at the bottom of the second inning though. The team’s first five batters all got on base and were able to score two runs to regain the lead. With Highlanders’ left-handed fourth-year Jack Weeks now pitching, Gouveia hit a sac fly that scored another run. The Aggies would add on yet another run before the inning ended, giving them a 6-2 lead. 

 The Aggies extended their lead to 9-2 after a three-run fourth inning. However, at the top of the fifth, the Highlanders began mounting a comeback. After back-to-back hits by third-year utility player Tyler Weaver and third-year outfielder Marcellus Pearson, redshirt fourth-year catcher Jacob Shanks smacked a single to center field that drove in Weaver. An Aggie defensive error allowed another runner to score. After 71 pitches, Delaney’s day was over, and third-year Danny Carrion entered the game. 

Carrion had been one of the Aggies’ best pitchers with a 2.55 ERA entering this game. Still, the Highlanders added another run after third-year infielder Dominic Martinez hit a single to right field. Shortly after, a passed ball would allow another Highlander to score. The score was now 9-6, and the Highlanders had a runner on third. Yet, Carrion managed to get out of the jam by striking out the next batter and forcing the following batter to hit a pop-up.
At the bottom of the fifth inning, the Highlanders brought right-handed third-year pitcher Tucker Juline out of the bullpen. He held the Aggies scoreless that inning, but Carrion responded with a scoreless inning of his own at the top of the sixth. The back-and-forth pitching duel continued as Juline held the Aggies scoreless again at the bottom of the sixth inning, followed by Carrion at the top of the seventh inning. 

The Aggies finally got to Juline at the bottom of the seventh inning as the first four hitters all got on base. This included third-year catcher Jack Gallagher getting his third hit and second extra-base hit of the day and third-year utility player Nick Iverson hitting a single that drove in a run. With the bases loaded and Highlanders’ right-handed redshirt second-year Corbin Barker pitching, Stone hit a sac fly that gave the Aggies an 11-6 lead. 

The Aggies held this lead to the very end. Aggies’ right-handed redshirt third-year Kaden Hogan pitched the final two innings and held the Highlanders scoreless for an Aggie victory. With this win, the Aggies improved their record to 14-21 overall and 5-10 in conference play. Meanwhile, the Highlanders fell to 7-29 overall and 1-14 in conference play.

After the game, UC Davis Head Coach Tommy Nicholson spoke about what this series’ victory means to the team. 

“It’s building our confidence. Our guys have been working hard for it all year long,” Nicholson said. “It’s something that we wanted to do. We didn’t win a whole lot of series last year, and it’s one of our goals to win as many series as we can.” 

Nicholson reiterated that winning series is important for building the team’s confidence.

While the offensive downpour and standout performances from players like Gallagher, Iverson and Gouveia were important, Carrion’s efforts on the mound were crucial to maintaining the Aggies’ lead. 

“We went into that inning with a 9-2 lead, and it got a little dicey there with some runners on base,” Nicholson said. “But [Carrion] is our best guy, and we wanted to go right to him to stop any momentum that they were building.”

Nicholson added that Carrion did a great job pitching two more innings and holding the Highlanders to no runs before the Aggies could add to their lead. 

The Aggies still have another month before the season is over, leaving plenty of time for the team to build momentum and add wins to their record. 

After defeating UC Riverside, UC Davis hosted the University of Pacific on April 25 but lost by a score of 5-6 in a non-conference game. The Aggies will look to regroup as they travel to Southern California on April 28 to face UC Santa Barbara, who are 25-12 overall and 10-5 in conference play.


Written by: Patrick Figueroa — sports@theaggie.org