Despite its ace pitcher sidelined by injury, UC Davis cooled the Cal Poly hitters while keeping its bats hot in taking the series.
Returning home after an eight-game road trip, junior third baseman Paul Politi sent the fans home happy with a walk-off single on Friday. Senior first baseman Eric Johnson singled in the bottom of the eighth to put the Aggies ahead in the series finale, and freshman Craig Lanza earned his first collegiate win.
UC Davis moves to 18-25 overall and 6-9 in the Big West Conference.
Wednesday — Fresno State 11, UC Davis 4
Sophomore Spencer Brann went 3-for-4 with his first home run of the season, but Fresno State scored early and often to win the nonconference matchup in Fresno.
Brann was a triple shy of the cycle, hit a two-run homer in the top of the fourth and picked up two RBIs while scoring twice.
The Aggies scored first when sophomore Nick Lynch drove in freshman Kevin Barker with a sacrifice fly.
The Bulldogs, however, put up eight unanswered runs over the next three innings to take an 8-1 lead.
Brann’s two-run homer in the fourth cut into the lead, but the Aggies were only able to muster one more run, dropping the game 11-4.
Friday — UC Davis 5, Cal Poly 4
The UC Davis bats connected with the ball all afternoon, picking up a total of 16 hits led by Politi’s 4-for-6 performance and walk-off single on a 0-2 count in the bottom of the 11th.
Senior catcher Scott Kalush hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning, which gave the Aggies a 4-2 lead.
Senior Anthony Kupbens received the Friday start after a minor injury kept senior Dayne Quist out of action. Kupbens pitched seven innings, giving up just two runs while striking out five.
“[Cal Poly is] the best offensive team in the conference,” head coach Matt Vaughn said. “The thing that was really special about today was that we had to move our pitchers up, and to get that effort out of [Kupbens] today on short rest is a special effort on the mound.”
The Aggies took a 4-2 lead into the ninth, but a Cal Poly rally tied the game off sophomore closer Harry Stanwyck to force extra innings.
Politi stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 11th with two outs and runners on second and third. After falling behind in the count 0-2, Politi drove a single into right-center field for the walk-off victory, getting mobbed by his teammates shortly after touching first base.
“Paul set the tone today,” Vaughn said. “He just put on a clinic in hitting and that’s contagious.”
Saturday — Cal Poly 12, UC Davis 7
Both Lynch and senior Brett Morgan hit home runs, and senior Tom Briner struck out five batters in seven innings of work, but Cal Poly scored eight runs in the final three innings, including a five-run eighth, to claim the victory.
Down 4-0 in the third, Morgan led off the inning with a solo shot to left, his first of the season.
Lynch then tied it up in the fifth when he hit the first pitch he saw over the left field wall to knot the game at 4-4 with a three-run shot.
The Aggies continued to rally in the inning to take a 6-4 lead.
In the top of the seventh, the top hitter in the conference, Mitch Haniger, tied the game with a bomb of a two-run homer to left field. Cal Poly then scored five runs in the eighth inning off junior Ben Burke and added a solo home run off freshman Raul Jacobson in the ninth for a 12-6 advantage.
UC Davis added one in the bottom of the ninth after Lipson led off with a triple and scored on senior David Popkins’ sacrifice fly.
Sunday — UC Davis 5, Cal Poly 4
Lynch gave UC Davis an early lead with a two-run shot in the bottom of the first. The Aggies doubled their advantage in the second to extend the lead to four.
Freshman Spencer Koopmans made his fourth start of the year, keeping the Cal Poly hitters at bay until a solo shot from Haniger in the top of the fourth.
The Mustangs tied it up in the fifth after a two-run homer, a string of base hits and an error by the Aggies. Despite fading at the end, Vaughn was impressed with the spot start from the freshman.
“This was a tremendous start for him,” said Vaughn. “It’s a great learning experience for him as a freshman; it’s going to be key for him going forward.”
The UC Davis bats were quieted until the eighth, when Eric Johnson’s two-out single drove in Barker to give the Aggies the lead and ultimately the victory.
Lanza pitched 4 and 2/3 innings in relief, limiting the Mustangs to three hits and striking out six batters, including the first two in the top of the ninth, and then getting Haniger to fly out to right to end the game.
UC Davis makes a short trip to Reno on Tuesday to face Nevada.
RUSSELL EISENMAN can be reached at email@example.com.