Spokane, Wash. - Playing its first game of a three game road trip in the Pacific Northwest, the Pacific baseball team dropped a tough 6-4 decision to Gonzaga on Friday, March 16. The Tigers mounted a late game rally but fell just short of the comeback to drop to 3-14 on the year while the Bulldogs improved to 11-5 overall.
In a game that both teams were looking to get back on track, the Tigers fell just short as miscues in the field proved to be the difference between the two clubs. Offensivley, the Tigers had their chances to jump out front early in the contest as Pacific put runners on in each of the first three innings including a pair in scoring position in the second.
However, the threats would go without runs which would come back to bite Pacific. After just missing their own chance in the second, the Tigers saw the Bulldogs not miss in the third as a leadoff single by the bottom of the order turned into the first run of the game.
Two innings later, the Tigers answered back with their first run of the game when a leadoff error by the Bulldogs' turned into a run for Pacific. With junior 3B Dustin Torchio aboard to start the inning, the Tigers manufactured their opening score with a sacrifice bunt and a deep fly ball to set up the chance. From there, sophomore 1B Erik Lockwood brought Torchio the final 90 feet by beating out a roller into the 3-4 hole.
The tie would be short lived for Pacific as the Bulldogs took advantage of a bout of wildness out of the Tigers' starter, freshman RHP Michael Benson, who lost the opening hitter of the bottom half of the inning on four pitches. Back-to-back extra base hits by the heart of the Zags' order put Gonzaga back on top, 3-1, before a final run would cross the plate after a Tiger mistake.
Pacific would inch closer to Gonzaga in the top of the eighth with a pair of runs to cut the Bulldogs' lead to just one. After senior RF Allen Riley singled to start the inning and knock Gonzaga's starter, Tyler Olson, out of the game, the Tigers turned it into a run when reliever Derek Peterson walked sophomore C Riley Drogesen and then balked the pair to second and third. A ground ball plated the first run of the inning for the Tigers before junior PH Tyger Pederson laced the first pitch he saw in the game through the left side to bring home the second score.
Back within one, the Tigers would see their hard work in the top half of the inning go for naught as Gonzaga used four defensive mistakes, with two scored as official errors, to grab back the two runs it gave up. After a leadoff walk and a pair of bunts put runners at second and third, the Tigers saw the first run of the inning score on a failed squeeze that turned successful due to a wild pitch. The ball in the dirt that went for strike three on the missed bunt bounced just far enough away from Drogesen to allow the runner breaking for home on the play to score despite the unsuccessful bunt attempt. A play later, a pair of missed popups in the same at bat allowed the Bulldogs to score a second run of insurance headed to the ninth.
Down three once again, the Tigers put together a rally in the ninth as the bottom of Pacific's order put themselves on base for the top. With runners at first and second, Torchio delivered with a RBI bloop down the left field line to cut the deficit to two. The Tigers would put runners at second and third with only one out in the inning, but that would be all for the Tigers as David Bigelow entered the game and recorded the final two outs to pick up the save.
Benson suffered the loss for the Tigers to fall to 1-3 on the year despite giving up just three earned runs in 5.1 innings of work. The freshman recorded five strike outs while walking one and relinquishing seven hits in the start. In relief, senior LHP Joe Spizzirri 2.2 innings of relief and gave up just one hit and two unearned runs.
The Tigers will look to even the series at one game a piece on Saturday, March 17, when the two teams meet at 6:00 pm for game two.