DAVIS, Calif. - In the top of the seventh inning, fans who witnessed Friday's Big West Conference series opener between CSUN and UC Davis saw centerfielder Brianna Warner record the second out of the inning with a rare 8-5 play, thanks to a lazer of a throw to third that easily beat Matador baserunner Savannah Horvath to the bag. In that same frame, the Matadors took the lead away from the Aggies and held a 7-6 advantage before the home team took its final swings of the afternoon.
As entertaining as Warner's putout at third was to Aggie fans in attendance, the activity that took place in the bottom of the seventh brought everyone clad in blue and gold to their feet after witnessing just as unique a play, as UC Davis scored twice to win the series opener, 8-7, thanks to a walk-off fielder's choice combined with a CSUN throwing error.
"To see us respond the way we did after CSUN scored was huge," said UC Davis head coach Erin Thorpe after the game.
UC Davis will enter Saturday's doubleheader, the final day of the 2017 season, with a 22-30 overall and 7-12 Big West record after collecting its fourth victory in its last five played. CSUN will arrive to La Rue Field tomorrow with records of 29-22 and 9-10.
After Saturday's doubleheader concludes, the program will conduct its Senior Day ceremony, and honor the team's six graduating student-athletes: Alexis Carney, Christa Castello, Taiya McInnes, Taylor Peters, Andrea Reynolds and Warner.
In a game that saw six lead changes, the final one led to UC Davis opening the final series of the season with a dramatic victory, thanks to clutch at-bats and heads-up baserunning by the Aggies.
Following Peter's lead-off bunt single -- which caught CSUN's entire infield off-guard -- she advanced to scoring position after Castello dropped a textbook sacrifice bunt. Caroline Figueroa then entered the game and joined her teammate on base after drawing a four-pitch walk, placing the game-winning run at first in the process.
After Alex Sotomayor re-entered for Figueroa, CSUN decided to intentionally walk Ashley Lotoszynski, load the bases and set up an all-freshman showdown between Isabella Leon and Matador reliever Cheyenne Noll.
On a 2-1 count, shortstop Horvath had to hustle to record the force out at second after collecting Leon's ground ball. With the first-year Aggie racing down the line at first, Horvath attempted to turn the double play, which would have ended the game with a win for her team. Instead, first baseman Katie Hooper had to hop off the bag to even have a shot at collecting her teammate's sidearm throw, which ultimately sailed past her and rolled to a stop along the fence next to the Aggies' dugout.
Even if Horvath's attempt was on point, Leon would have reached base safely. Instead, all Hooper could do was listen to the crowd roar once Peters touched the plate to tie the game as she scurried to pick up the loose ball.
At that point, it was a sheer footrace to see how Friday's game would proceed.
Sotomayor, who sprinted towards third, rounded the corner and never broke stride when Horvath stepped on second. By doing so, Hooper's only option was a throw home. That never happened because Sotomayor scored before Hooper was able to turn her body and even attempt a play at the plate.
UC Davis will look to win the series, and record a potential weekend sweep, when both teams return to the diamond in the morning. First pitch for Saturday's doubleheader is set for 12 p.m., live stats and internet audio links for both games are available at UCDavisAggies.com.
UC Davis 8, CSUN 7
CSUN................ 100 210 3 - 7 10 2 (29-22, 9-10 BWC)
UC Davis............ 020 301 2 - 8 14 2 (22-30, 7-12 BWC)
Pitchers: CSUN - Pofek, Daphne; Troost, Taylor(3); Bell, Rebecca(4); Noli, Cheyenne(6) and
Habitz, Karlie; Rascon, Alejandra. UC Davis - Kibby, Katie and Carney, Alexis.
Win-Kibby, Katie(15-8) Loss-Noli, Cheyenne(0-2) T-2:24 A-277
Weather: Sunny, 72 degrees
Bell, R. faced 4 batters in the 6th.
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