May 17, 2003
HAYS, Kan. - Dave McKae fired the first nine-inning no-hitter in school history and it came against the nation's top-hitting NCAA Division II team as No.4-seed UC Davis advanced to the championship game of the NCAA Division II West Region Championships with a 3-0 victory over No.2-seed Fort Hays State Saturday afternoon in front of 550 at Larks Park.
With the win the Aggies improve to 34-22 on the season and will face Sonoma State at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. The Seawolves eliminated Fort Hays State on Saturday night and need to sweep the unbeaten Aggies twice on Sunday in order to advance to the NCAA Division II National Championship, next week in Montgomery, Ala.
Battling a Fort Hays State team that leads all of Division II in hitting with a team average of .379 entering the tournament, the day belonged to McKae from the start. He retired the first 13 batters he faced before issuing a one-out walk in the fifth inning. His next pitch turned into an inning-ending double play, resulting in McKae facing the minimum number of batters through five innings. His mastery continued through the later innings as he mowed down the Tiger batters, throwing 10 pitches in the sixth inning, nine in the seventh and 16 in the eighth.
Heading into the ninth inning with a 3-0 lead, McKae got leadoff hitter Brad Fannin to ground out to David Butterworth at first. Pinch-hitter Josh Bickel then worked a one-out walk, only the second Tiger runner to reach base. Chris Lipowicz then flied out to left on the first pitch and Jeff Runyon ended the game on a 0-1 pitch as he grounded out to Dustin Soderman at third, resulting in the first Aggie no-hitter since Dave Schwartz's seven-inning win over San Francisco State on April 14, 1990.
"About the sixth inning it started to sink in as I looked at the scoreboard and saw all zeros," said McKae. "I kept thinking that the most important thing was to keep them (from scoring). It was very exciting and I just tried to get ahead of the hitters and finish them off with something down. I have the best defense in the tournament behind me and Andy did a great job of calling the game," McKae said in reference to catcher Andrew Reisinger.
UC Davis gave McKae all the support he would need in the fourth as with two outs and nobody on, Reisinger, Matt Kamigawachi and Butterworth strung together three consecutive singles with Butterworth's scoring Reisinger with the game's first run. The Aggies had collected six hits in the first three innings, but didn't push a run across until the fourth. The lead grew to 2-0 as back-to-back singles by Matt Blankenheim and Tyler LaTorre led off the sixth inning. Kyle Irving pinch-ran for Blankenheim and scored on Mark Wells' RBI groundout to second. Butterworth closed out the scoring in the seventh as he connected for a leadoff home run to right, his 10th of the year, extending the lead to 3-0.
In all the Aggies pounded out 15 hits in the game, 11 coming with two outs. Butterworth's home run was the only extra-base hit of the game as UC Davis had hits in all but one inning on the day. The Aggies left 14 runners on base, but they were not needed as McKae was masterful.
"I was nervous because we left too many runners on base against a good offensive team," said Aggie Head Coach Rex Peters. "Dave was so good on the mound we only needed the three runs. The way he was pitching, that was enough. We had to scratch and claw for our three runs. We were a few hits away from breaking the game open but we left the bases loaded three times.
"We can't ask to be in a better position," Peters continued. "Now we have to go out on Sunday and finish it off."
A win on Sunday will give UC Davis its first West Region Championship since the 1995 season, also the last time it advanced to the NCAA Division II National Championships.
UC DAVIS BASEBALL
No.2 Fort Hays St. (45-14) 000 000 000 - 0 0 0
No.4 UC Davis (34-22) 000 101 10x - 3 15 0
WP - Dave McKae (6-4). LP - Scott Chew (8-4). UC Davis: Dave McKae and Andrew Reisinger. FHSU: Scott Chew, Ben Ford (6), Kyle Allis (6).
TOP HITTERS: UC Davis: David Butterworth, 3-4, HR, RBI; Matt Kamigawachi, 3-5; Tyler LaTorre, 2-4, Run; Andrew Reisinger, 2-3; Kyle Irving, 1-1, Run; Robby Tulk, 1-4, RBI; Ross Warner, 1-4; Matt Blankenheim, 1-3; Mark Wells, 1-4, RBI. FHSU: None.