DAVIS, Calif. — The UC Davis baseball team will play a total of 53 regular season games, 28 of which will be played on campus at Dobbins Stadium, announced Head Coach Matt Vaughn on Wednesday. In all, the Aggies will play 24 games against Big West Conference competition and 29 more against non-conference foes from eight different conferences.
UC Davis will play a total of 17 games against six teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament a season ago, including 2016 College World Series participant — and Big West rival — UC Santa Barbara on May 5-7 in Santa Barbara, Calif. The Gauchos went 3-0 to win in the Nashville Regional, swept past top-seeded Louisville in the super regionals, and finished 1-2 with a win over Miami in Omaha, Neb., before being eliminated by eventual national runner-up Arizona.
Among the other postseason qualifiers on the 2017 schedule: home series against UConn (No. 3 seed at the Gainesville Regional) on March 10-12, Utah Valley (No. 4 seed at the Baton Rouge Regional) on Feb. 24-26, and conference rival Long Beach State (No. 3 seed at the Coral Gables Regional) on April 28-30, while taking on defending Big West champion Cal State Fullerton (No. 2 seed at the Starkville Regional) on the road on April 7-9.
The Aggies will also host a pair of mid-week games against Saint Mary’s — the No. 3 seed at the Raleigh Regional — on March 14 and May 2.
The Gaels are one of three conference regular season or tournament champions on the UC Davis schedule as Saint Mary’s shared the regular season and took home the West Coast Conference tournament trophy in 2016. Utah Valley won the Western Athletic Conference Tournament to earn its berth to the postseason while UConn claimed the American Athletic Conference Tournament crown.
Opening the season on the road for only the second time in the last eight years — and the fourth time overall in the program’s Division I Era — UC Davis travels to the desert to participate in a round-robin tournament hosted by UNLV on Feb. 17-19 at Earl E. Wilson Stadium in Las Vegas. The Aggies open against a familiar foe in Saint Mary’s, while also taking on Omaha and the host Rebels during the weekend.
UC Davis returns home to open a four-game home stand by hosting former conference rival Pacific in a mid-week game on Feb. 21, before welcoming Utah Valley to town for a three-game series on Feb. 24-26 at Dobbins Stadium. The Aggies then bid farewell to the friendly confines to open a run of five straight games against Pacific-12 Conference foes Stanford (Feb. 28), Oregon State (March 3-5), and Oregon (March 6), away from home.
Another five-game home stand follows as UC Davis welcomes Penn State to Northern California in a mid-week clash on March 8, before hosting UConn in a three-game series on March 10-12. Another duel with the Gaels follows to cap the home stand two days later, and the Aggies close out the bulk of non-conference play with a three-game road series at Creighton on March 26-28.
Remaining non-conference contests include a home-and-home with Causeway rival Sacramento State on April 4 in Davis and April 11 in Sacramento, a home-and-home against Nevada on April 18 in Reno and April 25 in Davis, a clash with Pacific on May 9 in Stockton, and a three-game set with Grand Canyon on May 18-20 in the final home series of the year.
Big West Conference play opens at home on March 31 as CSUN visits for three, with the Aggies hosting Cal Poly (April 13-15), Long Beach State (April 28-30), and UC Riverside (May 12-14). League road series include trips to Cal State Fullerton (April 7-9), Hawai’i (April 21-23), UC Santa Barbara (May 5-7), and UC Irvine (May 25-27).
UC Davis is looking to rebound from a 2016 campaign that saw the Aggies finish 17-36 overall and 5-19 in Big West play, tentatively returning 27 letter winners and losing just two position starters off of last season’s squad. Senior outfielder Mark Cardinalli led the Aggies with a .333 average last season with 12 runs scored and 19 RBI, while sophomore catcher Logan Denholm and fifth-year senior Cameron Olson — who was granted a medical hardship waiver for another season of eligibility following an injury-plagued sophomore campaign in 2014 — hope to build on a 2016 season that saw them combine for 22 doubles, 53 runs scored, nine home runs, and 55 RBI.
Led by sophomore All-Big West selection Robert Garcia (3-5, 2.73 ERA), who assumed the mantle of Friday night starter for the Aggies last season, the staff also returns senior starter Justin Mullins (2-4, 4.79 ERA) and regains the services of left-hander Orlando Razo, who was 4-2 with a 3.27 ERA in 2015 — and finished with a 1.34 ERA in 19 relief appearances as a true freshman in 2014 — before missing the better part of the last two seasons due to injury.
Junior Zach Stone, the Aggies’ career record holder for saves (22) who was also granted a medical hardship waiver after missing all but two games as a starter on the mound, also returns after going 1-1 with nine strikeouts in eight innings before going down last season and is 7-8 with a 2.61 ERA in 60 career appearances.