May 12, 2012
DAVIS, Calif. - Senior right-handed pitcher Tom Briner threw his third complete game of the year, using just 79 pitches to dismantle Long Beach State and lead the UC Davis baseball team to a 5-0 win on Saturday at Dobbins Stadium in Davis.
UC Davis wins the series, marking its second straight series victory, and improves to 20-26 overall and 8-9 in Big West play. Long Beach State drops to 24-23 overall and 11-6 in league action.
Briner struck out one batter and scattered six hits with no walks in the win to move to 3-6. He faced just three batters over the minimum and 60 of his 79 pitches were strikes.
"To get that outing on this weekend was phenomenal," said head coach Matt Vaughn. "His attitude when he goes out there every time is to give us a chance to win and, not only did he do that today, but he just took it over. We're playing the second-place team in the conference and we're in a weekend where we have to play five games and need to stretch our pitching out as far as we can. He gave us the series win right off the bat and the chance to go for the sweep. It's just special."
After getting out of a jam in the second, Briner retired the side in the third and fourth, then gave up a one-out single in the fifth inning. He forced Jeff Yamaguchi to hit into a double play, however, to end the frame before retiring the side in the sixth.
He gave up just three hits over the course of the final three innings with his lone strikeout of the game coming in the top of the eighth. Then, after a single by Jeff McNeil in the top of the ninth, the Aggies turned their second double play of the day to seal the win.
Briner's performance was complimented by an equally-strong offensive outing by Eric Johnson, who went 2-for-3 with a home run, a double and an RBI while also scoring three of the Aggies' five runs.
Johnson hit his first home run of the season in the second inning, taking a 2-0 pitch just over the wall in left field. In the sixth, he drew a four-pitch walk, moved to second on Kalush's single then advanced to third on Brett Morgan's sacrifice bunt. Ryan Allgrove's base hit into right field allowed the senior first baseman to score his second run of the day.
He capped off his day with a lead-off double in the eighth. He moved to third on a passed ball, then scored on Kalush's RBI base hit down the left field line.
"I'm really proud of Eric," said Vaughn. "This year did not start the way he wanted it to start, and he battled through a couple of things. He's never lost sight of it and he's kept working hard. Yesterday was a great moment for him, and he's turning a corner at the plate and, as you can see, it makes us a much more offensive team. It gives us a lot more chances to drive guys in."
Kalush also had a standout day at the plate for UC Davis, going 3-for-4 with two RBI. He also scored twice, combining with Johnson for all five Aggie runs.
After Johnson's second-inning homer, Kalush hit one over the right field fence in the very next at bat, marking the first time since Apr. 30, 2011 that UC Davis has hit back-to-back homers in an inning. It happened in the fifth inning against Cal State Northridge in a 6-0 win. The batters? Johnson, followed by Kalush.
The Aggies have now hit 13 home runs in the last 14 games.
After his second-inning homer, Kalush singled in the sixth inning, then came around to score on Tino Lipson's base hit up the middle. In the eighth, his RBI base hit scored Johnson for the fifth and final run of the game.
UC Davis will try for the series sweep against Long Beach State on Sunday at 1 p.m.