Capito's Stellar Performance Wasted, Aggies Rally to Beat Gauchos 5-4

DAVIS, Calif. - David Popkins homered in the fifth inning and had a game-winning two-run single during a four-run rally in the eighth as UC Davis came back to beat UC Santa Barbara 5-4 in a Big West Conference baseball game at Dobbins Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The victory snapped the Gauchos two-game winning streak. It also improved the Aggies' overall record to 17-33 and their conference mark to 9-12. They remain tied for fifth in the Big West with UC Riverside which edged UC Irvine 2-1 on Sunday.

The Gauchos, who had shutouts while winning the first two games of the weekend series, dropped to 23-25 overall and 8-13 in the league.

Popkins finished the game 3 for 4 with 3 RBI's.

The Gauchos controlled the game for the first seven innings, leading 4-1 and riding the arm of starting pitcher Nick Capito who had allowed just two hits - both of them to Popkins who homered to lead off the fifth and then had a bunt single in the seventh.

But UC Davis' bats came alive in the eighth off reliever Nick Loredo, getting back-to-back one-out singles from Justin Andrade and pinch-hitter Daniel Cepin, and then a two-out RBI single from Scott Heylman that made it 4-2. Designated hitter Alex Dreyfuss then singled in Cepin, cutting the deficit to a run.

Reliever Bryce Uhrig came in for Loredo and promptly hit first baseman Eric Johnson, loading the bases for Popkins who hit an 0-2 pitch to right-center field that brought around Heylman and pinch-runner Corbin Cutshaw, giving UC Davis its first lead of the weekend, 5-4.

Tom Briner relieved Joe Biagini - who was effective for 2-1/3 innings while earning his second win - and put the Gauchos down in order in the ninth, earning his sixth save. Loredo took the loss, falling to 3-3. 

The Aggies' rally spoiled a strong outing for Capito who faced just three batters over the minimum in his seven innings of work. He retired 11 straight batters covering the first through fourth innings before Popkins broke up Capito's no-hitter with a towering home run to left field leading off the fifth. It was Popkin's fourth homer of the season.

Capito put down the next eight batters before Popkins reached on a two-out bunt in the seventh for his second hit. Capito finished with four strikeouts and just one walk.

The Gauchos scored all four of their runs in the third inning off UC Davis starter Harry Stanwyck, loading the bases with no outs on singles from catcher Byrce Tafelski and shortstop Steven Moon, and a walk by Derek Eligio. Stanwyck nearly got out of the inning unscathed after battling back to strike out designated hitter Brandon Trinkwon and second baseman Sean Williams. A wild pitch, though allowed Tafelski to cross with the game's first run.

Joe Wallace followed with a two-run single two batters later while Ryan Palermo added a run-scoring single to center, chasing Stanwyck who had five strikeouts and three walks to that point. Reliever Nathan Slater followed with three scoreless innings, setting up Biagini's effort.

The Aggies finished with seven hits. UCSB had six hits, two each from Wallace and Moon.

The Gauchos will return home to host Loyola Marymount on Tuesday, May 24 at 3:00 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.