(photo by Craig Jackson)
OMAHA, Neb. – UCSB freshman pitcher Noah Davis went about three weeks in between starts earlier this year because of a foot injury, an injury Gauchos coach Andrew Checketts said still bothers him.
In his three starts entering Monday’s elimination game against No. 3 national seed Miami, the righthander had allowed eight earned runs in 15.1 innings, a mark that practically mirrored his season’s ERA of 4.70.
When UCSB needed it most, Davis was splendid, working six innings with two hits, one earned run, two walks and three strikeouts. When UCSB needed it most, Davis didn’t look like a freshman.
“Yeah, poise is key,” Davis said. “If I’m scared, then they’re not going to be scared of me. So, I might as well come out there with confidence.”
Miami coach Jim Morris listed off what made Davis effective.
“He went right at us,” Morris started. “He got ahead in the count. He hit his spots. He threw his breaking ball over.”
Including Shane Bieber’s eight innings, Gauchos starting pitchers have combined for 14 innings, eight hits, two earned runs and nine strikeouts in two games in Omaha.
Miami starter Danny Garcia allowed a run in the first and had two walks to help the Gauchos load the bases in the second inning. He induced a weak chopper from Clay Fisher to third, where Edgar Michelangeli touched the bag and fired over to first to complete a double play to escape the jam.
That started a streak of 10 straight batters retired by Garcia.
“Obviously, I had that rough second inning,” Garcia said. “But I minimized damage and not even one run scored. And I just had a mind-set of just going up there and dominating and just throwing strikes, competing and having our offense come in and hit as quick as possible.”
Carl Chester had an eventful second at-bat. Chester grounded to short, where Gauchos shortstop Clay Fisher made just his sixth error of the season, a throwing error. Chester turned to second and after about 15 feet, ran out of his shoe, which caused him to tumble into a somersault. He dismounted rather cleanly and kept running to second where he nearly beat the throw from catcher Dempsey Grover, who was backing up on the play.
Speaking of Fisher, he had six assists, and his feel for the game is just a joy to watch. On the game-ending double play, he deftly handled a low throw with run from lefty closer Kyle Nelson to turn the 1-6-3 double play to preserve the 5-3 win. Fisher made a tricky play look very easy.
Hurricanes coach Jim Morris was asked if it’s harder to win it all in Omaha.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily harder to win it once you get here,” Morris said. “I think it’s harder to get here.”
He continued, “There are so many teams out there battling that are on the edge to get to Omaha. It’s really tough.”
- Gauchos third baseman Ryan Clark made a nice pick on a short-hop to nearly turn a 5-4-3 double play in the third inning. He later made a slick barehanded play on a do-or-die bunt by Christopher Barr in the fifth inning.
- Barr, for his part, fielded a cue shot with plenty of spin with his barehand to get Grover in the fourth. And Michelangeli, third baseman for the Canes, also made a barehand field-and-throw, getting a little help on the pick at first from Barr in the eighth.