The Aggies had a rough start to conference play, getting swept by the Long Beach State 49ers. They started their series against the 49ers with a doubleheader on March 30. This was a long day for UC Davis as the 49ers clearly had the Aggies’ number.
In the first game of the doubleheader, the 49ers were led by shortstop Shayna Kimbrough and second baseman Cya Neal. Kimbrough went 2-3 with a walk, a run and an RBI. Neal went 2-4 with a run and an RBI.
The Aggies simply could not stop the 49ers’ batting order; starting pitcher freshman Dana Cruse only went 3.1 innings and gave up four earned runs. Sophomore Leah Munden came in to relieve Cruse and fared no better, giving up four runs — though none of those were earned — in two innings pitched.
Besides the lack of ability to stop the 49er bats, the Aggies’ bats were silent, struggling to even get hits against Long Beach State’s Erin Jones-Wesley. Jones-Wesley was stellar against the Aggies, giving up only two hits in six innings pitched.
Sophomore designated player Kelly Zboralske, who is hitting .313 for UC Davis, struggled against Jones-Wesley. Zboralske went hitless in three at-bats and struck out twice in a frustrating outing. With the lack of hitting from the Aggies and the hot bats of the 49ers, the Aggies lost 8-0 in six innings.
With the second game of the doubleheader occurring right after the 8-0 defeat, the Aggies were not entering the second game with positive momentum. It showed, as once again the 49ers’ bats lit up the Aggies’ pitching. Kimbrough and Neal once again led Long Beach State. This time, Kimbrough went 3-4 with two RBI and a run. Neal went 3-4 as well, with an RBI and a run.
The dynamic duo of Kimbrough and Neal once again sparked the 49ers’ offensive display against the struggling Aggie pitching, which gave up nine runs. Starting pitcher sophomore Alicia Paine struggled as she couldn’t get out of the second inning, only pitching 1.1 innings. Paine gave up five hits and four runs, all of them earned, in this short span. She was relieved by sophomore Marissa Chapa who was blasted for nine hits and five earned runs in 5.1 innings.
The problem for the Aggies was that their bats were once again cold. Long Beach State’s Amanda Hansen pitched a complete game and only gave up one run. UC Davis’ sole run came from sophomore outfielder Cat Guidry’s single to third, which drove in senior second baseman Chandler Wagner. UC Davis was simply outclassed and fell in the second game of the weekend, 9-1.
The final game of the weekend series against Long Beach State was not even on a weekend. The game, which was played on Monday, March 31, was a much closer battle between the Aggies and the 49ers than the weekend games had been.
Munden, the starting pitcher for the Aggies, struggled early giving up five hits and three earned runs in only 2.2 innings pitched. However, the Aggies received brilliant relief play from Cruse, who pitched 4.1 innings of shutout ball. Cruse only allowed one hit in those four innings.
However, while UC Davis’ pitching woes were qualmed by Cruse, the poor hitting was still blatantly obvious. Jones-Wesley once again stymied the Aggies’ batters, holding them to one earned run in 4.2 innings pitched. UC Davis’ one run came from an RBI single by sophomore shortstop Christa Castello, which drove in pinch-runner sophomore Jasmine Lee. From that point on, the Aggies were completely shut down by a combination of Jones-Wesley and Hansen, which ended with a final score of 3-1.
This pitching duel ended up going in the 49ers’ favor, as they simply had enough clutch hitting to build a substantial lead. The third inning spurt, where Long Beach State scored all three of its runs, was catalyzed with a single by Neal. Neal then advanced to third on a single by third baseman Hannah De Gaetano and was driven home by a sacrifice fly.
The Aggies simply could not get anything started with their bats and struggled mightily against the strong Long Beach State pitching staff. They hope to turn around their fortunes in Big West play, as they head to Northridge, Calif. to face the Matadors.