March 2, 2012

Benson Pitches Tigers To 7-2 Win At K-State



Manhattan, Kansas -  Freshman RHP Michael Benson allowed one earned run in seven innings, and senior LF Brett Christopher continued his hot streak at the plate with a home run and a double as Pacific earned a 7-2 win over Kansas State in the opener of a three game series Friday.

The Tigers collected 12 hits as the top three of Pacific's lineup combined to go 7-for-13. Senior RF Allen Riley hit a solo homer in the first to set the tone, and added two more hits on the day to go with two runs batted in. Christopher finished two-for-four with a double and his second home run in as many days, while junior 3B Dustin Torchio added a two-for-four day with a pair of runs scored.

Benson (1-1) earned his first collegiate victory by striking out five and allowing just five hits on the day. He allowed two runs, one on a bloop single to left in the first, and a second unearned run on a fielding error.

With two outs in the first, the Tigers put their first mark on the scoreboard literally, as Riley hammered a pitch off the scoreboard in right field for a 1-0 lead.  The homer was his third of the season and seventh of his career.

In the bottom of the frame, SS Jake Brown leaned into a Benson offering and was hit by pitch. After stealing second, he came in on a flare that fell behind third and short off the bat of 1B Wade Hinkel.

The Tigers picked up a run in the second, as sophomore 2B Riley Drongesen doubled to left, and after a walk and a fielder's choice, alertly scored when a pickoff throw to first was low and caromed toward second base.

Christopher, batting from the left side, turned on a 1-0 pitch and lined it over the wall in right field in the third, for his second home run in three at bats, as he homered from the left side of the plate Tuesday in the seventh inning against Sacramento State.  His second homer of the year gave Pacific a 3-1 lead.

In the bottom of the third, KSU's Tanner Witt walked to open the inning, stole second base and after a pair of groundouts, Witt came home on a fielding error to pull Kansas State within a run.

The Tigers tallied twice in the fifth, as Torchio singled and Christopher doubled to lead off the inning and chase Kansas State starter RHP Matt Applegate. LHP Shane Conlon got Riley to ground out, but Lockwood brought Torchio home and advanced Christopher to third in the process. PH Erik Lockwood then grounded it to short to plate Christopher.

Benson held K-State in check through seven, when senior RHP John Prato Matthews inherited a 5-2 lead in the eighth, and set down the Wildcats in order, striking out two.

Pacific tacked on two in the ninth, as Torchio singled to right, Christopher walked and Riley singled through the right side to load the bases with one out. Lockwood turned in another RBI groundout, and DH Taylor Murphy hit a sharp grounder up the middle which was knocked down, but the infield single stretched the gap to 7-2.

Prato Matthews allowed a two-hit single in the ninth before getting Witt to roll over to second base for the final out, earning his first save.

Applegate allowed five runs, four earned, in 4.0 innings to fall to 0-2. Conlon (3 IP) and RHP Jake Doller (1 IP) combined to hold Pacific scorless for four innings before the Tigers tallied two runs off RHP Geraldo Esquivel in the ninth.

The Tigers have won back-to-back ballgames to improve to 2-8, while K-State falls to 3-5 on the season. Game two of the series will start at noon PT, 2 pm in Kansas, with LHP John Haberman taking on KSU LHP Joe Flattery.