UC Davis committed two errors in the sixth inning that led to a four-run rally, allowing Sacramento State to come from behind and win the Causeway rematch 8-5.
Junior Paul Politi and sophomore Spencer Brann had two RBIs apiece, and the Aggies led by as many as three runs, but the defensive mistakes and the power of the Hornets were too much to overcome.
The loss drops UC Davis to 13-19 on the year.
UC Davis got going quickly against the Hornets in the first inning when senior Brett Morgan led off with a double and scored after senior David Popkins’ sacrifice fly and Politi’s RBI groundout to short.
Sac State responded for one in the top of the second during a two-out rally against freshman Spencer Koopmans, who was making his third start of the season. He was able to get a strikeout to retire the side to minimize the damage.
The Aggies returned the favor with a two-out rally of their own in the third. With Popkins on first, freshman Nick Lynch and junior Austin Logan walked to load the bases. Freshman Austin Marsh, making his first start in right field, came through with an RBI single. Brann pinch hit for senior Scott Kalush with the bases still loaded and, like Marsh, responded with a two-RBI single, giving UC Davis a 4-1 lead.
In the top of the fourth with one out and a runner on third, Koopmans got a ground ball to the left side of the infield, but the ball skipped through sophomore Adam Young’s glove, allowing the runner to score. The Hornets then loaded the bases with back-to-back singles and got an RBI groundout, the first unearned run crossing the plate and cutting the lead to 4-3.
The Aggies got another run in the fourth on a sacrifice bunt from Politi with Morgan on third, but UC Davis recorded only one hit the rest of the game.
Sac State scored one in the fifth on a play at the plate, the throw from Morgan in centerfield appearing to get there in time, but Brann was unable to hold on.
The Hornets led off the sixth inning with a single against senior pitcher Ryan Lucas. Two straight singles and an error tied the game. Junior Ben Burke replaced Lucas in a situation as tough as it gets: tie game, bases loaded and no outs.
Burke induced a ground ball to short, but Young’s throw was wide at home, giving Sac State its first lead. Freshman Rhys Hoskins followed with a two-RBI single, giving the Hornets an 8-5 lead. Burke was able to stop the bleeding and retire the side after that.
“Burke was awesome,” Head Coach Matt Vaughn said. “If you really look at that inning, he might be able to get out of that inning with no runs scored if we had been able to make a play. That’s the second time in a row he’s done a good job, and he’s becoming a go-to-guy for us from the ‘pen.’”
Vaughn has been looking for depth in the bullpen and tinkering with the lineup all season to find the right combinations.
UC Davis will journey for an eight-game road trip, starting with a series against Big West Conference opponent UC Riverside. The Aggies will look to senior starter Dayne Quist once again to set the tone for the weekend. Quist was named Big West Co-Pitcher of the Week after his masterful three-hit, nine-strikeout complete game shutout against Pacific last Saturday.
First pitch at the UC Riverside Sports Complex will be Friday at 6 p.m.
RUSSELL EISENMAN can be reached at email@example.com.