Tempe, Ariz. - Playing their second game of the Husker Classic in Tempe, Ariz., the Pacific baseball team put together a statement win over one of their West Coast Conference rivals, downing Gonzaga, 9-5, on Saturday, Feb. 15. The win for the Tigers was their first of the year and ran their record to 1-1 overall while the Bulldogs remained winless at 0-3. The game did not count in WCC play as the two teams will meet for a three-game series in Stockton in mid-March in WCC play.
Picking up where they left off with their bats from a day prior, the Tigers' offense once again ignited as Pacific tallied 12 hits and scored nine runs to win the day. While it took a few innings for the engine to rev-up, once it got itself going there was little that could stand in the way of the Tigers.
Starting things off for the Tigers was junior rightfielder Taylor Murphy who rebounded from a rough opening day to break up a hot start by the Bulldogs' starter, Derek Callahan (0-1). Needing just 22 pitches to record the first seven outs of the game, Callahan appeared to be on cruise control until Murphy came to the plate. With one down in the third, Murphy started a rally for the Tigers with a lined shot to right-center for his first hit of the season and Pacific's first base-runner of the night. Following Murphy's lead, junior Jimmy Gosano worked his way on with a walk to set the table for the top of the lineup. With two on, junior Tyler Sullivan cleared the bases as the speedy centerfielder belted a ball into the right-center gap for a 2-RBI triple. Not to be outdone, sophomore Brett Sullivan followed two-batters later with an RBI single to right, beginning a string of four-straight trips to the plate for the second-year shortstop ending with a hit.
After taking the lead back from the Bulldogs who had plated a run in the first inning of play, the Tigers saw their two-run advantage cut to one at 3-2 when Gonzaga took advantage of a loss of control by senior John Haberman on the mound. Despite the lack of control, Haberman was able to battle through, holding the Bulldogs to just one run while leaving the bases loaded. The perseverance by Haberman would show through once again an inning later as the fifth-year Tiger battled through a trio of walks in the fourth to deny the Bulldogs a tally and keep Pacific ahead.
The work on the mound helped keep the Tigers focused at the plate as the offense rewarded its pitching staff for their work with a huge seventh inning that broke the contest wide open. Still up one at 3-2, the Tigers plated five runs on five hits in the top of the seventh inning to put the Bulldogs in a hole they could not get out of. Again it was Murphy and Gosano who started the rally with one out as Murphy flared a single to left while Gosano deadened a bunt on the first base line for his first Division I hit. The two were followed by a Sullivan single to right which loaded the bases for the meat of the order.
Coming off the bench, sophomore Gio Brusa picked up the easiest RBI of his career as he worked a full-count walk to push home the first run of the inning. With the bases still juiced, the blazingly hot B. Sullivan stepped to the plate and promptly singled to the leftside of the infield to drive home a second run. After a sac-fly gave the Bulldogs an out and the Tigers a run, senior Erik Lockwood delivered the fatal blow to Gonzaga as he pulled a double down the leftfield line to finish off the scoring.
The huge inning would prove to be even bigger than initially thought as the Bulldogs mounted a rally in the bottom half of the inning, plating a run and loading the bases with no outs in the inning before junior Bryce Lombardi entered the game and shutdown the threat. The Bulldogs would manage three runs in the inning, picking up two sacrifice flies, but Lombardi's excellence kept them at bay.
Pacific tacked on a run in the eighth for good measure when freshman McKay Koissian beat out an infield single and then worked his way around the bases, eventually scoring on a wild pitch. Junior Michael Benson slammed the door in the ninth as he made his first appearance of 2014 while working back from injury.
Offensively, B. Sullivan was the standout once again as he went 4-for-5 with a run and two RBI. T. Sullivan added two hits in four at bats with two runs and two RBI while Murphy finished with two hits and two runs scored. On the mound, freshman John Jaeger (1-0) was awarded the win for his work out of the pen as the first reliever into the game. He worked a scoreless fifth for the Tigers while Pacific nursed a 3-2 lead over the Bulldogs. Starter John Haberman lasted 4.0 innings while giving up five hits and two runs while striking out four and walking five. Lombardi worked the longest stint out of the pen as he threw 2.0 complete innings while striking out a pair.
Callahan lasted 5.1 innings while giving up five hits and three runs as he was tagged with his first loss of the season.
The Tigers take on No. 2 Oregon State on Sunday, Feb. 16 at 3:00 pm PST on day three of the Husker Classic.