May 27, 2003
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Matt Blankenheim had a pair of hits and starter Michael Potter went 6.2 strong innings, allowing just one earned run, as UC Davis defeated Abilene Christian, 5-3, in an elimination game at the 2003 NCAA Division II National Baseball Championships Tuesday in front of 563 at Paterson Field.
With the win the Aggies improve to 36-23 on the season and will advance to face Franklin Pierce in another elimination game on Wednesday. Abilene Christian sees its season end with a 45-20 record and a South Central Region championship.
With both teams needing a win to advance, it was UC Davis which struck first as in the bottom of the third, Matt Kamigawachi's RBI groundout to short scored Blankenheim with the game's first run. Blakenheim led off the inning with his first of two hits on the afternoon. The Aggies increased the lead to 3-0 in the fifth as Mark Wells reached on an error by ACU shortstop Luis Munoz to open the inning. Blankenheim then drilled a 1-1 pitch just over the bag at first for the RBI double as Wells scored all the way from first. Blankenheim would later come around on an RBI single from Andrew Reisinger.
Abilene Christian scored an unearned run in the sixth to cut the lead to 3-1, but the Aggies responded in the bottom of the frame as freshman Tyler LaTorre connected for his second home run of the season, a deep blast over the right field fence.
The Wildcats finally got to Potter for an earned run in the seventh as with two outs and Ryan Barker on third following a leadoff single, Matt Callahan connected for an RBI double down the left field line. The run cut the lead to 4-2 and ended the day for Potter. Reliever Joel Needham came on and fanned leadoff hitter Brad Massey to end the inning. UC Davis quickly got the run back in the bottom of the seventh as Kamigawachi's RBI single scored Robby Tulk, who led off the inning with a walk.
Abilene Christian manufactured a run in the ninth as Barker led off with a single and scored on an RBI groundout to Kamigawachi at short. With two outs and nobody on, Munoz ended the game by grounding out to Kamigawachi at shortstop, one of three Kamigawachi assists in the inning.
"This is what UC Davis baseball is all about, throwing strikes, playing defense and coming up with some big hits," said Aggie Head Coach Rex Peters. "Michael gave us an outstanding start on the mound today and we thought going in that he would be a good matchup against Abilene. Michael has impressed me all year. He has pitched well in big games and though he is only a freshman, he has the composure of a senior.
"At this point we are in survival mode," Peters continued. "We just have to take it one pitch at a time and hopefully we get better each day and be around at the end."
For ACU, Massey suffered his first loss of the season as he lasted 5.1 innings, allowing eight hits and four runs, striking out four. Justin Whitlock came on to throw 2.2 innings in relief, allowing one run on one hit. Barker led ACU at the plate, collecting two hits while Munoz added a pair of singles and an RBI on the afternoon.
The Aggies will be looking to improve upon their only other appearance in Montgomery, when they went 1-2 during the 1995 championships and finished tied for fifth. A win on Wednesday would push the Aggies into the semifinals against either Tampa or Kennesaw State on Thursday.
UC Davis will play on Wednesday at 12:30pm (PDT) against Franklin Pierce in an elimination game at Paterson Field.
UC DAVIS BASEBALL
No.4 Abilene Christian (45-20) 000 001 101 - 3 8 3
No.9 UC Davis (36-23) 001 021 10x - 5 9 1
WP - Michael Potter (9-4). LP - Brad Massey (2-1). Save - Joel Needham (6). UC Davis: Michael Potter, Joel Needham (7) and Andrew Reisinger. ACU: Brad Massey, Justin Whitlock (6) and Chris Churchill.
TOP HITTERS: UC Davis: Matt Blankenheim, 2-3, 2B, RBI, 2 Runs; Ross Warner, 2-3; Matt Kamigawachi, 1-4, 2 RBI; Tyler LaTorre, 1-4, HR, RBI; Andrew Reisinger, 1-2, RBI; Robby Tulk, 1-3, Run; Mark Wells, 1-3, Run. ACU: Ryan Baker, 2-4, 2 Runs; Luis Munoz, 2-4, RBI; Chris Churchill, 1-4; Creighton Bryan 1-3, Run; Marcelino Escalante, 1-4; Matt Callagan, 1-3, 2B.