DAVIS, Calif. — Trailing by four heading into the bottom of the eighth, UC Davis scratched its way back to within one of the visiting Titans thanks to a three-run effort that began with a single off the bat of junior Caleb Van Blake, who finished the day 2-for-3 with two runs scored. But the rally would prove too little too late for the Aggies, as Cal State Fullerton was able to hang on with a 5-4 victory in the series opener on Friday afternoon at Phil Swimley Field.
The Aggies fell to 15-25 on the season and 7-9 in Big West play with the loss, while the visiting Titans—who received votes on the NCBWA poll for the second consecutive week— improved to 23-20 overall with a 10-3 league mark.
Matt Blais suffered the loss for UC Davis, charged with four earned runs on eight hits while striking out four over seven innings of work. Colton Eastman (7-3) was credited with the win for the Titans after allowing one run on one hit and striking out five over seven innings on the mound, while Blake Workman earned his second save of the season after recording 0.2 innings of scoreless, hitless relief.
Fullerton was first to get on the board on Friday afternoon after Ruben Cardenas recorded the Titans' first hit of the day on a double to left center field, and later scored on a wild pitch to make it 1-0 in the first. Cardenas paced the Titan offense with a 3-for-5 finish at the plate along with two runs and a pair of RBI.
Following three scoreless innings by both squads, the Titans tacked on three more in the fifth on a pair of doubles, two hit-by-pitch at bats, and an RBI-single by Jake Pavletich, who ended the day 3-for-4 with one run and one RBI.
Trailing by four, UC Davis remained silent at the plate until the home half of the sixth, recording its first hit of the afternoon on a single through the right side by Van Blake. A hit-by-pitch at bat for Logan Denholm and a sacrifice bunt from junior Garret Kelly gave the Aggies two runners in scoring position before freshman Tanner Murray made it 4-1 with a run-scoring groundout.
But the Titans answered with another one-run effort in the eighth, reclaiming their four-run advantage on a pair of singles.
Now facing right-handed reliever Brett Conine on the mound for the Titans, momentum began to sway in favor of UC Davis in the home half of the eighth, after a hit-by-pitch at bat for Cameron Briggs and back-to-back singles from Van Blake and Denholm brought one run across. Murray then recorded his second run-scoring groundout of the day to get the Aggies within two, before a single to center field off the bat of senior Brad Pluschkell made it a 5-4 ball game, as UC Davis erased three of its four-run deficit.
Denholm went on to finish 1-for-2 with one run and an RBI, while Pluschkell ended 1-for-4 with one RBI.
The UC Davis defense kept it a one-run affair in the ninth, supported by a key strikeout from freshman Joseph Torres to record the second out of the inning.
The Aggies had their chances in the bottom half of the inning after a lead-off single by senior Ryan Hooper, a sacrifice bunt from pinch hitter Colton Evans, and an error by the Fullerton defense put runners on the corners with two outs. But the Aggies could not convert, resuting in a 5-4 victory for the league-leading Titans.
Games two and three of the series are scheduled for Saturday (May 5) at 1 p.m. and Sunday (May 6) at 1 p.m. at Phil Swimley Field.
Cal State Fullerton 5, UC Davis 4 (05/04/18 at Davis, Calif.)
Cal State Fullerton. 100 030 010 - 5 10 1 (23-20, 10-3 BWC)
UC Davis............ 000 001 030 - 4 5 0 (15-25, 7-9 BWC)
Pitchers: Cal State Fullerton - Eastman, Colton; Conine, Brett(8); Workman, Blake(9) and
Cope, Daniel. UC Davis - Blais, Matt; Wieser, Tim(8); Torres, Joseph(9) and Denholm, Logan.
Win-Eastman, Colton(7-3) Save-Workman, Blake(2) Loss-Blais, Matt(3-6) T-2:54 A-259
ABOUT UC DAVIS
Providing a small-town community feel while providing a world-class academic experience, UC Davis is home to more than 37,000 students and centrally located between San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and the Napa Valley. The No. 6-ranked public university in the nation according to the Wall Street Journal, and among the top 10 public universities nationwide according to U.S. News and World Report, UC Davis offers nearly 100 graduate programs and more than 100 academic majors across four colleges and six professional schools, ranking among the world and nation's best in numerous disciplines, including veterinary science, agriculture, and animal science programs.
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