Sunday, September 21, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Aggies hope a year’s diamond experience aids them in rugged Big West

0211ucdbaseW

UCD second baseman Steven Patterson throws to first to complete a double play in a game last season. Patterson hit .324 for the Aggies last season. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise file photo

By
From page B1 | February 11, 2014 |

In 35 years of Division I play, UC Davis’ Big West Conference rival Cal State Fullerton has never had a losing season.

The Titans have made 16 College World Series appearances and won four NCAA championships.

After a 51-10 season in 2013 — including a 23-4 league mark — veteran-filled Fullerton is not only picked to win the Big West, it is ranked No. 1 in the land.

Lucky UCD.

The Aggies, coming off a 19-37 mark and a last-place conference finish, don’t care about all the pre-season rankings. A recent poll of Big West coaches has UCD picked dead last.

That’s water off a duck’s back to coach Matt Vaughn. Not a pitch has been thrown this spring. Those first curveballs will be served up Friday at 2 p.m. when Seattle comes to Dobbins Stadium for a four-game opening series.

Vaughn likes his young team. He expects it to improve from a defense-challenged 2013.

Is it going to push Fullerton, Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara for the league’s top rung? Don’t bet on it. But this is baseball. Stranger things have happened.

Vaughn believes his guys have learned from last year.

“We’re a year older,” the third-year skipper told The Enterprise. “Everyone has a year under their belts … not quite as many nerves. You focus on playing the game, not the opponent or the circumstances.”

That said, Vaughn has a handful of intriguing players who will be trying to prove the Big West majority wrong in their assessment of the Aggies as a cellar-dweller.

Brilliant second baseman Steve Patterson, a senior by way of San Joaquin Delta College, returns. He is lauded by his coach “as a player we will build around” after hitting .324 as a junior while driving in 33 runs with a .412 slugging percentage.

Junior Nick Lynch — who is in a dogfight for time at third base — led the 2013 Aggies at the plate with a .359 average. The St. Ignatius High grad is battling senior Adam Young for hot-corner status.

UCD struggled at shortstop last season and it was Young who moved to the position and gave the locals some stability there.

But Paul Politi has graduated. Gone with the former third baseman are a team-high five home runs, 36 RBIs and 41 runs.

If El Cerrito High junior Tino Lipson (.339, 31 runs and 10 steals) can hold down shortstop, it gives the Aggies depth on the left side.

Lipson and Evan Heptig at short, Young and Lynch at third.

Mix in sometime-pitcher/.356-hitter Spencer Henderson at first base and — at least going into the opening set against Seattle — there is experience and some punch in the infield.

Furthermore, Patterson and Lipson should be keys to the Aggies playing a more aggressive brand of baseball.

Behind the plate, Vaughn has a situation that most college coaches would love …

UCD has three capable catchers — and Vaughn sees each being used, similar to last season when Cameron Olson (.274), Spencer Brann (.272) and Izaak Silva (.220) shared time.

Sophomore Olson of River Valley High (Yuba City) led the trio with 16 runs batted in and hit the only homer in the group. San Benito grad Brann had the most starts (31) but only nine RBIs. He provides senior leadership with the pitching staff. Soquel junior Silva had 12 starts.

“No one really ran away with the position … they’ve all done really well in the fall and each is catching pretty good, so it’s probably going to be the guy that’s swinging it best that is going to be back there,” says Vaughn, adding that moving those starts around is OK by him.

“(Catcher) is a position where you need two or three good players anyway. All those guys are going to help.”

In the vast reaches of the Dobbins Stadium outfield, Vaughn has seven rostered outfielders from which to choose, and five have emerged.

In left, junior Austin March (Junipero Serra) and senior Seth Batty are competing to get their names penciled into the lineup card.

March started 16 games in 2013 and hit .217 — but did blast one of the Aggies’ 13 homers. Batty, who is by way of Buchanan High (Fresno), is a three-year varsity senior who got 24 starts last season while hitting .281. His nine doubles were UCD’s third-best number.

In center, Kevin Barker is another St. Ignatius product. He hit .244.

Right fielder John Williams of St. Francis High (Mountain View) is a returning left-handed hitter (.282) whose 38 RBI led all Aggies last season. Williams will get some backup help from Tanner Bily (.212).

On the mound, Vaughn points to a veteran trio that collectively went 8-22 in 2013.

Sophomore Spencer Koopmans (1-9, 5.54) and senior Evan Wolf (3-5, 4.58) join senior Harry Stanwyck (4-8, 4.79) in what figures to be the local starting rotation.

“Stanwyck on Fridays,” Vaughn says. “He did a great job in that role last year … gave us a chance to win most the games he pitched in. He’s a year more experienced, so we feel really good about him in that spot.”

Stanwyck (Castro Valley) should be followed by Koopmans (St. Teresa of San Jose) and Wolf (Clovis).

The trio didn’t blow anyone away — just 96 strikeouts in 237 innings last season — but with fewer than 90 walks and respectable ERAs, they could vault forward if the Aggies can cut down on errors (49) in crucial moments.

Max Cordy (McClatchy) and Craig Lanza (Monte Vista) were UCD’s closers a year ago (each had one of the team’s two saves), but Vaughn sees Cordy sneaking into extended chores while Lanza ultimately might become the closer. Time will tell.

And then there are freshman hurlers Orland Razzo and Zach Stone …

“These two guys, hopefully, will be ready to go,” Vaughn says with enthusiasm.

“Zach is from Eureka, the kind of place you don’t see a whole lot of guys come out of. But he’s a very good pitcher and had a great fall.

“He’s a very athletic kid who we think we can put in the games right away.”

Razzo is a 5-foot-11 lefty from Serra High (San Mateo) and Stone is a 6-1 right-hander.

It all starts Friday at home with Seattle.

Notes: The First Pitch BBQ will take place in the Bruce Edwards Club Room at Aggie Stadium after the final game of Saturday’s 11 a.m. twinbill. Dinner and a hosted bar cost $15. RSVP through Michelle Wolff at mgwolff@ucdavis.edu or call 530-754-7548. … If UCD gets off to a fast start in the Big West, it will be especially noteworthy — the Aggies’ first six games are at No. 27 Cal Poly (March 28-30) and top-ranked Cal State Fullerton (April 4-6). … UCD was outscored last season, 363-297, while opponents outhit the Ags, .306-.283.

— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at bgallaudet@davisenterprise.net or 530-320-4456.

Comments

comments

Bruce Gallaudet

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Elementary school counselors: necessary, but poorly funded

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
     
    Bet Haverim hosts High Holy Day services

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1

     
    Teams assess damage as wildfire burns

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Driver arrested for DUI after Saturday morning crash

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Help raise funds for juvenile diabetes cure

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Jewelry, art for sale at Senior Center

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Davis Community Meals needs cooks

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Hawk Hill trip planned Sept. 30

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    UC campus chancellors granted hefty pay raises

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Send kids to camp!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Da Vinci awarded $38,000 for restorative justice program

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

    Outdoor yoga marathon celebrates community

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Wise words

    By Sue Cockrell | From Page: A12

     
    .

    Forum

    Awareness is key to this fight

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Where is this going?

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A6

    We’re living in the Golden State of emergency

    By Debra DeAngelo | From Page: A6

     
    Options for protection come with flu season

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

    Are we there yet? Not enough hours in the day to goof off

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A6Comments are off for this post

     
    Don’t sell city greenbelt

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Paso Fino project is flawed

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Paso Fino — it’s not worth it

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Archer will get my vote

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    It’s time for Davis Scouts to stand up for what is right

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

    Mike Keefe cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

     
    Building something at schools’ HQ

    By Our View | From Page: A10

    Speak out

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    Maybe David can beat Goliath again

    By Lynne Nittler | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    .

    Sports

    DHS gets on its Morse to beat Edison

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    JV Blue Devils drop low-scoring affair

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B2

     
    Republic FC’s fairy tale season continues

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Wire briefs: Giants rally falls short in San Diego

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Four local swimmers qualify for Olympic Trials

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

    ‘We’re a way better team’ than record, says UCD’s Shaffer

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B4 | Gallery

     
    UCD roundup: Aggie men pound Pomona-Pitzer in the pool

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B4

    Davis 15-year-old making a splash in European F4 series

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B8 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    ‘Ladies Foursome’ adds shows

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    .

    Business

    UCD grad’s startup earns kudos at TechCrunch event

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    Styles on target for November debut

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A7

    MBI hires VP of marketing

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Taylor Morrison unveils new Woodland community next weekend

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Rob White: What is an ‘innovation center’?

    By Rob White | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Carol L. Walsh

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, September 21, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B8