April 18, 2014
RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- For the second consecutive night, the UC Davis baseball team mounted a furious comeback only to come up just short, scoring five unanswered runs late in the game on Friday night before falling to host UC Riverside, 7-6, at the Riverside Sports Complex.
Just 24 hours after finishing with a career-high five hits, junior Kevin Barker stayed hot with a 2-for-5 performance for UC Davis (16-19, 3-8 in the Big West Conference), driving home a pair of runs in the sixth to help key the Aggies' rally.
Sophomore Tanner Bily also had a pair of hits in four plate appearances, finishing 2-for-2 with two runs scored and two walks in support of starter Spencer Koopmans (3-1), who was tagged with his first loss of the season after allowing five runs on eight hits in 4.2 innings of work.
Zach Varela (5-2) earned the win for the Highlanders (16-18, 5-3) after allowing four unearned runs on five hits, walking four and striking out five. Kevin Sprague collected his fourth save of the year, pitching a perfect ninth with a strikeout to shutdown any Aggie rally.
Seth Batty led-off the game with a single and moved to third on Barker's first hit of the night, eventually coming around to score on a double play ball to give UC Davis the early lead.
UC Riverside rallied to tie and take the lead with a pair of runs in the fourth on a David Andriese single up the middle and a sacrifice fly by Thomas Walker for the 2-1 advantage, then broke the game wide open with a five-run fifth inning, sending eight batters to the plate.
Cody Hough led-off the inning with his first home run of the season before the Highlanders plated four more with two outs in the frame -- the big blow coming on Walker's bases-clearing, three-run double to complete a four-RBI night. Matthew Ellis added an RBI single to cap the scoring and set the stage for yet another Aggies rally.
An error and back-to-back walks chased Varela from the game in favor of Jordan Kron, who induced a ground ball to the right side that erased the lead runner at the plate for the first out. Another ground ball to short led to UC Davis' second run before Barker plated two more runs two batters later to make it a 7-4 contest.
Two innings later, an RBI triple by Austin March scored Bily to make it 7-5 in the eighth before a groundout by Evan Heptig plated March, pulling the Aggies to within a run. A pair of strikeouts by Kron got Riverside out of the inning and Sprague clinched the win with two ground balls and a strikeout.
Joe Chavez finished 3-for-5 at the top of the Highlanders' lineup to lead all hitters, as eight of the nine Riverside starters finished with hits en route to a 12-8 advantage in that category.
UC Davis looks to salvage a game in the series on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. as senior right-hander Evan Wolf (3-3, 5.05 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound against southpaw Ben Doucette (2-3, 4.23 ERA) in the final game of the weekend. The game will be streamed live on ESPN3.com.