By Helen Tuman & Samantha Thompson
Sports Reporter, Co-Editor in Chief

The fans were packed into the stands of one of the Sluggers’ biggest games of the season on Friday night at the Harvey West Park field. Supporters were clad in the team’s colors, carried dozens of colorful signs, and when the time came, people put on their rally caps to give the Sluggers the momentum they needed to take the game from their opponents.

Friday’s game was the first of a three-game series this past weekend against the UC Davis Aggies, determining whether or not the Sluggers would make it to playoffs — a feat that they achieved for the first time this weekend in the club’s six years of existence.

The game went through waves of deafening silence and screams of excitement as the game’s lead changed hands multiple times, but still there was the constant cheer of “Banana! Slugs!” coming from an enthusiastic fan in a banana suit.

Last year, Davis swept the Sluggers in the same series, taking away their playoff dreams. Since their first game against UC Santa Barbara in January, the UC Santa Cruz Sluggers have been on a mission to avenge the loss against Davis and to take a spot in the playoffs.

“From game one we’ve been on a mission to get vengeance,” said senior Ryan Layne, the club’s coach and second baseman.

Vengeance is what UCSC got, winning all three games in the series.

The Sluggers were off to a good start Friday night when they beat Davis in a clutch game. On an error by the Davis’ catcher in the bottom of the ninth inning, with one out, freshman Sam Stafford stole home to tie the game 8–8. Ready to take the win, freshman Anthony Koch stepped up to the plate and hit a shot deep into center field over the Davis center fielder’s head, bringing in Layne and junior Dustin Smith to end the game 9–8 over the Aggies.

“[Friday’s game] was really insane,” freshman Lucas Vasquez said. “It really showed what we can do.”

Despite scraping through some rough innings, senior pitcher Colin Murphy came through for the Sluggers throwing every pitch of the game.

“Colin’s been our man all year,” Layne said. “He’s gone extra innings before and we helped him out tonight by not making him go extra innings, but he was prepared to [do it].”

Murphy was modest about the part he played in the win.

“This is a team of 25,” Murphy said. “Twenty-four other guys contributed to the win too.”

Saturday’s first game of the double-header that day was a repeat of Friday night and “an emotional roller coaster,” as Murphy described it. The game stayed tight the whole game, but then finally came to a close as the Sluggers pulled out another come-from-behind win. With a winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Sluggers brought the final score to 9–8 and solidified their spot in the playoffs.

“We’ve had three come-from-behind games in the last inning [this season],” Layne said. “We have faith that we’re just going to win those games, we always stay upbeat, our subs really just [come] through.”

With their momentum, the Sluggers were able to make the last game in the series a short one. With a score of 11–1 in the fifth inning, the mercy rule was brought into effect and put an end to the series against Davis, leaving their record at a solid 18–5.

Seeded within the top 10–12 club baseball teams in the country, the Sluggers are now looking to make a name for themselves in this first chance the program has had at the playoffs. Playoffs begin at the beginning of May and will be held in San Diego.

Until then, the team will play another series of games this weekend against Stanford at Harvey West Park.

After making history this past weekend, the Sluggers assure fans that they won’t disappoint in this first run at playoffs.

“[We] just try,” Murphy said, “to put in as much heart as [we] can.”