Stern test (Baseball)

The U baseball team may face its toughest test yet this weekend as the Utes travel to California for a three-game set with UC-Davis.

Despite being relative newcomers to Division-I, having just achieved the status last season, the Aggies may be one of the stiffest challenges the Utes will face all season.

“There’s no doubt they will be the best team we’ve played up to this point and maybe the best team we play for a long time,” Kinneberg said. “They just turned Division-I, but they’ve got something going; they’re pretty good.”

The Aggies are 4-2 this season and are coming off consecutive wins over California-a 13-9 victory over the Bears on Tuesday-and No. 13 San Diego.

The San Diego Tritons faced off against UC-Davis for a three-game series and dealt the Aggies their first two losses of the season. But thanks to a strong performance on the mound from Justin Fitzgerald, the Aggies were able to salvage one game of the series with the nationally ranked Tritons, a 6-2 victory on Sunday afternoon.

Fitzgerald, who didn’t yield an earned run to earn his first victory of the season, will be on the hill once again this Sunday to close out the series with the Utes.

The Aggies, who finished 27-29 last season, are expected to make some noise in the Big West. They return their top seven hitters from last season, including sophomore Daniel Descalsco, who hit a team-high .320 last year as a true freshman.

Unlike the Utes, who begin their season with six-straight weeks on the road, UC-Davis opened its 2006 campaign with 13-straight home games. Aside from the two losses to the Tritons last weekend, the early season home stand has been a successful one.

“They’re winning games, and for them to beat Cal on a Tuesday is pretty impressive,” Kinneberg said. “They’re going to be a very solid club. This should be a good weekend for us to kind of measure ourselves against a better club.”

As for the Utes, they currently boast two of the top hitters in the Mountain West Conference. Shortstop Ryan Khoury (.429) and outfielder John Welsh (.417) are third and fourth in the conference in hitting, respectively, leading the way for a Utah offense that ranks at the top of the MWC.

On the pitching front, aside from some early inning difficulties that put the team in 5-0 holes twice last weekend, the Utes have been solid. Kinneberg will send Josh Cooper to the mound for his first start Friday afternoon. Cooper will face off against Davis southpaw Michael Potter.

Saturday afternoon, Ute junior Eric King (1-0, 0.90 ERA) will face Vince DeColito (0-1, 11.37). On Saturday, Triton pitcher Fitzgerald (1-0, 2.57) will take on the Utes’ Lucas Trinnaman (0-1, 4.70).

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