Led by a 2-for-3 performance from David Popkins, the UC Davis baseball team scored at least one run in each of the first six innings to take an 8-4 Big West Conference win from Cal State Northridge on Sunday at Dobbins Stadium in Davis.
The win marked the first series sweep of the year for the Aggies, who now stand at 12-25 overall and 6-6 in the Big West. Cal State Northridge drops to 18-25 and 1-11 in league play.
“There’s a big difference between 6-6 and 5-7 in this conference, so this was a big win for us,” said head coach Rex Peters. “We got a lot of good, quality at-bats with guys on base and you need that to win games in the Big West.
“We swung the bats well, we pitched well and we played defense well enough to get three wins, and that’s hard to do in this conference.”
For the third straight game, UCD scored in the first inning, taking a 1-0 lead after Brett Morgan scored from second base on a base hit from Scott Lyman.
Morgan then came up with an RBI single of his own when his hit to right center field brought home Daniel Cepin in the second inning, putting UCD up 2-0.
Cal State Northridge cut the Aggie lead in half in the top of the third after Ridge Carpenter scored on Marty Bowen’s hit into left field, but Popkins led off the bottom half of the inning with a home run that cleared the wall in right center field, putting UC Davis up 3-1.
Lyman gave the Aggies a 4-1 advantage after scoring later in the inning on an RBI groundout by Daniel Cepin.
With two outs and the bases loaded, Eric Johnson connected on an 0-2 pitch for a double to right center field. Popkins and Seth Batty scored while Lyman attempted to score from first, but was thrown out at the plate.
The Aggies added to their lead in the fifth as Cepin took advantage of two straight errors on Matador reliever Jacob Petersen. After being walked by Petersen, Cepin moved to second on a failed pickoff attempt, then advanced to third after the Northridge pitcher overthrew another pickoff attempt. A wild pitch allowed Cepin to come home easily as UCD took a 7-1 lead.
Cal State Northridge cut heavily into the five-run deficit with three runs in the top of the sixth. Tommy Simis led off with a double down the left field line, then Miles Williams was hit by a pitch in the next at-bat.
Chris Allen hit a fly ball into left field for the first out of the inning, but Kyle Attl’s single to right field loaded the bases with only one out. TS Reed stepped up and hit a well-placed ball into left center field for a triple, plating Simis, Williams and Attl to bring the score to 7-4.
Popkins added one more run for UCD, though, with a double in the bottom half of the sixth to score Scott Heylman for the 8-4 final score.
Aggie starting pitcher Dayne Quist held the Matadors hitless until Bowen’s RBI single in the third. The lefty allowed only one hit in the fourth, then got out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth when he forced Steven Keller to fly out to center field.
After giving up the three runs in the sixth, Quist was replaced by Nathan Slater, who struck out Matador pinch hitter Josh Goossen-Brown and Muren in consecutive at-bats. Slater gave up one hit in the seventh and was relieved by Tom Briner in the eighth; he allowed only one hit and struck out two in two innings of work.
UCD closes a five-game homestand by hosting San Jose State at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at Dobbins Stadium.