DAVIS, Calif. — The UC Davis baseball team will play 55 regular season games in 2018, of which 28 will take place at Phil Swimley Field at Dobbins Stadium, as announced by Head Coach Matt Vaughn on Wednesday. The Aggies will play 31 games against non-conference opponents hailing from five different conferences, in addition to 24 games against Big West Conference colleagues.
UC Davis will also play 13 of its games against five teams that advanced to last season’s NCAA Tournament, including Big West rival, Cal State Fullerton, who also participated in the College World Series. The Titans went 3-0 to sweep the Stanford Regional as the second seed, then went 2-1 against archrival Long Beach State in the super regional. In the College World Series, Fullerton was edged, 6-5, by the No. 1 seed Oregon State, then lost, 6-4, to Florida State in the elimination game.
Among the other post-season qualifiers, the Aggies will play three at home against St. John's (No. 3 seed in the Clemson Regional) on Mar. 2-4 as well as a home-and-home with Causeway rival Sacramento State (No. 4 seed in the Stanford Regional) first at home on April 17, then on the road on May 8. Sandwiched in-between games against the Hornets, UC Davis will travel to face conference foe Long Beach State (No. 1 seed in the Long Beach Regional) on April 27-29, then turnaround to face Fullerton (No. 2 seed in the Stanford Regional) on May 4-6 at Phil Swimley Field at Dobbins Stadium.
Opening the season on the road for only the third time in the last nine years, UC Davis heads south to take on CSU Bakersfield on Feb. 16-18. The Aggies will then return home to enjoy an eight-game home stand beginning with Stanford on Feb. 19.
UC Davis returns to the road, heading north to the ‘Beaver State’ to play four games against Oregon before returning home on March 16-18 to open another five-game home stand including a single mid-week clash against Santa Clara, and four against Northern Colorado over the weekend.
“Anytime you’re playing a team in the Pac-12, especially on the road, it's always a good test,” said Head Coach Matt Vaughn.
The rest of the non-conference schedule includes a three-game series against Creighton on Feb. 23-25, a home matchup against San Jose State on Apr. 3, three home-and-home sets with Saint Mary’s, Stanford, and San Francisco, as well as a three-game series at New Mexico during the Aggies' conference bye week on May 18-20 in Albuquerque.
“We try to set ourselves up with our non-conference schedule to prepare us for conference play. The Big West is one of the best baseball conferences in the country and we need to be ready not just to play, but to compete in every game,” Vaughn added.
The Aggies play their first conference games on the road against UC Riverside (Mar. 29-31) before opening Big West action at home on April 6-8 when Hawai'i visits for three. UC Davis also hosts UC Santa Barbara (April 20-22), Cal State Fullerton (May 4-6), and finishes the regular season against UC Irvine (May 24-26).
“If you look at our overall record from this past year, it’s not where we wanted to be. However, after being picked to finish last in the Big West, we ended up fifth, so we made progress and that’s what we need to continue doing this season,” said Vaughn.
Coming off a 2017 campaign that saw the Aggies finish 21-30 overall, and 10-14 in Big West play, UC Davis is slated to return its top two hitters off last year's squad, including All-Big West second team selection Ryan Hooper. The senior outfielder finished second on the team with a .310 average to go along with 30 runs scored, six home runs, and 29 RBI. He stood second only to junior teammate Ryan Anderson, who led the Aggies with a .313 average in 51 games, collecting 14 doubles, six home runs and a team-high 39 RBI, collecting hits in 19 consecutive games at one point to tie the school's Division I record. Fellow returning senior Alex Aguiar started 46 of 50 games last season, posting 14 doubles, scoring 26 runs, and driving in 17.
“Hooper and Aguiar are both guys that played almost the whole season for us last year," Vaughn said. "We have a strong group of leaders going into this season and the biggest challenge we have to overcome is what we lost on the mound.”
UC Davis will be looking to rebuild its weekend rotation after left-handers Robert Garcia (15th round, Kansas City) and Orlando Razo (16th round, Seattle) were taken in last year's Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft, and right-hander Justin Mullins (4-3, 3.55 ERA) was lost to graduation. Together, Garcia and Razo accounted for 67 percent of the total innings pitched and 78 percent of the strikeouts by the Aggies’ weekend rotation in 2017 as Vaughn will be looking for arms to pick up where the trio left off.
“Having lost so much of our pitching, it will be fun to see how we respond on the mound," said Vaughn. “We’ll play very good defense, led by senior Brad Pluschkell who will start at shortstop, and we will score runs. It will just be a matter of throwing strikes and competing in the strike zone."
Senior right-hander Matt Blais, who was mainly used as the Aggies' mid-week starter in 2017, is the veteran of the staff after posting a 3.86 ERA in 17 games (nine starts) and striking out 32 in 58.1 innings of work last season, including a complete-game one-hitter against Sacramento State, striking out eight in the process.
“We feel the incoming freshmen class is a great group,” Vaughn said. "There are a few impact players that will be thrown into the mix this year as freshmen and we’ll see how they do. There is also a very good group of returning sophomores and juniors that will be an integral part of our plan this season and will be counted upon to step up and provide some key innings for us," Vaughn added.
Postseason qualifiers on the 2018 schedule
Long Beach State (3 games): No. 1 seed in the Long Beach Regional, NCAA Super Regional qualifier
Cal State Fullerton (3): No. 2 seed in the Stanford Regional, College World Series participant
Sacramento State (2): No. 4 seed in the Stanford Regional
Stanford (2): No. 1 seed in the Stanford Regional
St. John's (3): No. 3 seed in the Clemson Regional
Non-Conference opponents by conference
West Coast (3): Saint Mary’s, Santa Clara, San Francisco
Mountain West (2): New Mexico, San Jose State
Western Athletic (3): Sacramento State, CSU Bakersfield, Northern Colorado
Pacific-12 (3): Oregon, Stanford, California
Big East (2): Creighton, Saint John's
2018 UC DAVIS BASEBALL SCHEDULE
Feb. 16-18 at CSU Bakersfield, 6-6-1 p.m.
Feb. 19 vs. Stanford, 2 p.m.
Feb. 23-25 vs. Creighton, 2-1-1 p.m.
Mar. 2-4 vs. St. John's, 2:30-1-1 p.m.
Mar. 5 vs. Saint Mary’s, 2:30 p.m.
Mar. 8-11 at Oregon, 6-6-2-12 p.m.
Mar. 13 vs. Santa Clara, 2:30 p.m.
Mar. 16-18 vs. Northern Colorado, 2:30-12-3-1 p.m.
Mar. 27 at California, 7 p.m.
Mar. 29-31 at UC Riverside*, 6-6-1 p.m.
April 3 vs. San Jose State, 2:30 p.m.
April 6-8 vs. Hawaii*, 2:30-1-1 p.m.
April 10 at Stanford, 6 p.m.
April 13-15 at Cal Poly*, 6-6-1 p.m.
April 17 vs. Sacramento State, 2:30 p.m.
April 20-22 vs UC Santa Barbara*, 2:30-1-1 p.m.
April 24 vs. San Francisco, 2:30 p.m.
April 27-29 at Long Beach State*, 6-2-1 p.m.
May 1 at Saint Mary’s, 3 p.m.
May 4-6 vs. Cal State Fullerton*, 2:30-1-1 p.m.
May 8 at Sacramento State, 6 p.m.
May 11-13 at CSUN*, 3-1-1 p.m.
May 15 at San Francisco, 3 p.m.
May 18-20 at New Mexico, 6:30-2-1 p.m.
May 24-26 vs. UC Irvine*, 2:30-2:30-1 p.m.
TBD- NCAA Regionals (Campus Sites)
TBD- NCAA Super Regionals (Campus Sites)
TBD- NCAA College World Series
All games in bold will take place in at Phil Swimley Field in Davis, Calif.
*denotes Big West Conference game
All game times listed as Pacific Time unless noted…Dates and times subject to change
Schedule as of Nov. 15, 2017
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