Edit: RT JC
Headline: Aggies cool down after hot conference start
Layercake: UC Davis wins one of three against Long Beach State
By DOUG BONHAM
Aggie Sports Writer
Entering this weekend’s home series in sole possession of first place in the Big West Conference, UC Davis was slowed down by the great pitching of Long Beach State.
Despite dropping the first two games of the series to the 18-21 (6-3) 49ers, the now-16-24 (6-3) UC Davis pulled out a big victory on Sunday to keep within one game of new conference leader University of Pacific.
The series opener was plagued with defensive mistakes as four errors by the Aggies led to three unearned runs and a two-run loss to Long Beach State.
UC Davis settled down after the opener, and the second game featured a fantastic battle with last year’s Big West Conference pitcher of the year, 49er Erin Jones-Wesley. The Long Beach State ace outlasted Aggie junior Jessica Thweatt in the 3-0 pitchers’ duel.
The Aggies battled to avoid the sweep in the series finale as three hard-fought runs were all the support needed for UC Davis pitchers Thweatt and freshman Justine Vela.
Saturday — Long Beach State 4, UC Davis 2
Vela started the game for UC Davis and worked through numerous difficult situations all game long as the Aggie defense struggled with four errors.
Although Vela escaped bases-loaded situations in both the second and fifth innings with only one run allowed, the 49ers added three unearned runs in the sixth inning to give Long Beach State a 4-0 lead.
UC Davis almost pulled out a successful seventh inning rally as senior Kylie Fan hit a two-run home run to cut the lead to two. With two runners aboard, however, the Aggies were unable to sustain the effort when a pop-up by senior Kelly Harman ended the game.
Saturday — Long Beach State 3, UC Davis 0
Jones-Wesley demonstrated why she received so many post-season honors last season in the second game as she held UC Davis to just three hits.
With the Aggies not providing any offensive threats, all the pressure rested on starter Thweatt. Thweatt responded masterfully with six strikeouts and only two hits allowed through six innings.
Unfortunately for UC Davis, Thweatt’s outing ended abruptly in the final inning when the 49ers finally cracked open the scoreboard with an RBI double and a two-run home run.
Down 3-0 in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Aggies showed heart by getting runners on second and third base before a Jones-Wesley strikeout ended the game.
Sunday — UC Davis 3, Long Beach State 1
After making adjustments from the past two games, the Aggies came out with great confidence to take the final game of the series. The UC Davis batters never backed down from 49er starter Jones-Wesley as she was eventually relieved in the fourth inning after allowing two RBI singles by juniors Kelly Schulze and JJ Wagoner.
The game reached a crucial point in the fifth inning after Vela, following a defensive error, walked in a run in a bases-loaded situation to cut the Aggie lead to 2-1. With the 49ers on the brink of piling on additional runs, the count was 3-0 with two outs when Vela settled down to force the batter to pop out.
“She could have easily been rattled,” said Coach Karen Yoder. “But I was so impressed with how she battled back … and as a freshman I think that is wonderful.”
Thweatt would end all 49er hopes of a comeback as she dominantly finished out the last two innings with four strikeouts.
Freshman Amy Nunez also provided an insurance run with a solo home run in the sixth inning.
The Aggies continue play this weekend in a three-game series at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo starting Saturday.
DOUG BONHAM can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. XXX