Feb. 21, 2014
CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. – UC Davis started its schedule at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic by facing Syracuse and No. 24 Notre Dame–two games that saw a collective 35 runs cross the plate. In the Aggies’ first game of the tournament, Syracuse squeaked past UC Davis by a 7-5 score; with only a brief break taking place between games, the Aggies experienced a heartbreaking result when Notre Dame downed UC Davis 12-11.
The Aggies will enter Saturday’s game against UNLV, its only matchup of the day, with a 4-11 record. With their respective results, Syracuse improves its record to 3-3 with Notre Dame now 9-1 for the year.
UC Davis wasted no time in lighting up the scoreboard by scoring twice in the first inning of its morning matchup against Syracuse.
With two outs already recorded, Amy Nunez reached base by splitting the first and second baseman with her single before advancing to second once Kelly Zboralske was hit by a pitch. Both Aggies scored when Lauryn Saunders slammed a single of her own to center to give her team an early 2-0 edge.
In the bottom half of the first, Syracuse rebounded by scoring three runs of their own to take its first lead of the day. For the next three innings, UC Davis starter Dana Cruse and Syracuse starter Lindsay Taylor matched each other’s effort by throwing three straight innings of shutout softball.
When the top of the fifth rolled around, it was the Aggies who snatched the lead away from Syracuse when Saunders recorded her another two RBI.
Brianna Warner led off the fifth with a walk and was soon joined by Nunez who reached first on another single. As was the case with her at-bat in the first inning, Saunders stepped up to the plate and delivered by blasting a double to right field that cleared the bases.
Entering the game as a pinch runner for Zboralske, who reached on a fielder’s choice after Nunez’ single, Janelle Gusiff scored the final run of the frame when Alicia Paine pushed the ball towards the opposite side of the infield.
On Paine’s 3-4-3 ground out, Gusiff hustled home to score the Aggies’ third run.
As quickly as UC Davis regained its lead, Syracuse took it right back by scoring three runs, on three hits of its own when the Orange returned to the plate in the bottom of the inning.
Leading 6-5 after five, Syracuse scored another run the following frame to extend its margin to 7-5.
What originally began as the first game of the tournament for UC Davis quickly turned into a precursor for the wildest game of the tournament when the Aggies returned to the diamond, after their respite, to battle No. 24 Notre Dame.
Unlike the previously played game, it was the Aggies’ opponent that was the first to score three runs in the first to jump out to an early lead.
Undaunted, UC Davis returned to the plate in the top of the second and scored three runs of its own to even the score.
Zboralske started the second by hitting her team-high third home run, a solo shot to right, to record the Aggies’ first run. Singles from Saunders and Caitlin Voss allowed Gusiff and Cat Guidry to score with two outs in the frame.
Gusiff pinch ran for Saunders after she reached safely, C. Guidry originally reached base on a fielding error committed by the Fighting Irish’s shortstop.
It was at this point of the game, with the score tied at three, when the scoreboard at Des Moines Field received its biggest workout of the weekend.
The excitement started when Notre Dame scored six runs in the second, and another in the third to take a 10-3 lead-a margin that placed the Aggies on the precipice of suffering a run-ruled result.
Another UC Davis inning that featured clutch hitting, with two outs, led to the Aggies trimming two runs off the Irish’s lead. On a single to the pitcher and a double to left center by C. Guidry and Voss, the pair placed themselves in scoring position with the top of their team’s lineup ready to take their swings.
Christa Castello, who entered this weekend’s tournament with the highest batting average of any Aggie, forced Notre Dame’s first baseman to commit a fielding error in a futile attempt to record the final out of the inning. Instead, Castello turned an error into a two-base miscue with each of her teammates scoring on the play.
After both teams scored a run in the sixth, it was the Aggies’ turn to create offensive explosion of their own, and did so by scoring five runs, on five hits, to even the game at 11-11.
A Zboralske double to left center, followed by a single through the middle from Jasmine Lee allowed Christina Guidry, who pinch ran for Zboralske, to trot home and plate her team’s first run. Another double to left center, this time from the bat of Chandler Wagner, led to another Aggie run once Lee scored.
With two runners on base, C. Guidry’s single to right helped her join Wagner who now occupied third, Voss cleared the bases with her shot down the left field line that cleared the fence, and tied the game. With one swing, the Aggie catcher posted her team-high third hit and game-high fourth RBI as the Aggies’ No. 9 hitter.
With C. Guidry, in the No. 8 spot, recording hits in all three of her plate appearances, the bottom of UC Davis’ lineup hit a combined 6-for-7, scored five runs and drove in four.
As was the case earlier in the game when the score was knotted at 3-3, Notre Dame snapped an 11-11 tie in the bottom of the seventh on a single, an Aggie miscue on a sacrifice bunt attempt and a play at the plate to hand UC Davis a one-run heartbreaking result.
For the second time this season, UC Davis will face UNLV in the Aggies’ only game at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic scheduled for Saturday. First pitch is slated for 10 a.m., live stats are available at ucdavisaggies.com.