Stockton, Calif. - Playing two on the day for the first time in 2014, the Pacific baseball team settled for a split of the day's doubleheader against Alabama State on Saturday, Feb. 22. The Tigers took the opening game of the day 5-3 before falling in the nightcap, 3-0. With the split the Tigers move to 4-4 on the year while the Hornets moved to 5-3 overall.
Picking up its first quality start of the season in the opening game of the day, Pacific grabbed its third-straight win and second of the series behind the veteran left arm of senior John Haberman (1-0). Going 7.0 strong innings, Haberman was able to pick up his first win of the year in his third start as he allowed just five hits and two runs while striking out three and walking six. He would give way to the pen in the eighth which relinquished a run in the inning before closing the Hornets out. Junior Michael Benson (2) earned his second save of the season with a four-out save after entering the game with a runner at second and one across in the top of the eighth inning.
With their pitching staff holding serve in the top halves of the innings, the Tigers' offense provided the run support in the bottom halves of the frames with single runs in the first, third, and eighth innings as well as posting two in the seventh. Pacific got on the board first with a run in their initial at bat when junior Tyler Sullivan led off with a single up the middle and worked his way around the bases on a sacrifice bunt and a single before sophomore Gio Brusa brought the third-year centerfielder home with a sacrifice fly to left.
The Tigers added a second run in the third when Sullivan again got things rolling at the top of the order with a leadoff walk. He would score two batters later when sophomore Brett Sullivan laced a triple into the gap in right-center. The triple would be the first of two big hits for the Tigers on the afternoon as senior Curtis Gomez ripped a two-RBI, pinch hit, triple of his own to right-center that proved to be the difference in the game. Pacific added an insurance run in the eighth in response to the Hornets' third run of the game. They had previously scored a pair of runs in the second inning off of Haberman on a two-out, two-RBI single by Dexter Price at the bottom of the order.
After owning the first two games of the series, the Tigers were not as fortunate in the second game of the day on Saturday evening as they could not find the clutch hits needed to dent the scoreboard. Throughout the night, Pacific had its chances throughout the game but at every turn Alabama State's Tyler Howe (2-0) had the answer, cooling the Tigers' bats for 8.0 full innings. In addition to Howe's work on the mound, the Tigers had a handful of self-inflicted wounds that cost Pacific chances to score and take control of the game.
Pacific's best looking chance of the game came in the bottom of the sixth inning when the Tigers were able to load the bases with just one out in the inning for the meat of the order. However, the big hit that came so easily over the last three games evaded the Tigers in the inning as the rally was cut short on a big chop to first that just missed getting to the outfield and instead turned into an inning-ending double play.
With the well of run support drying up, sophomore Jake Jenkins (0-2) found himself on the hook for the loss after putting forth the quality start in his second appearance. Throwing 101 pitches in 7.2 innings of work, Jenkins gave up just three runs in his outing, relinquishing a pair in the third with two outs in the inning and one in the eighth, again with two outs in the inning.
Despite the loss, Jenkins did put on a show for the fans at Klein Family Field as the second-year starter blew away 10 Hornet hitters for a career-high in strikeouts. The 10 strikeouts marked the most in a single outing for the Tigers since Jake Hummel hurled 10 against UC Santa Barbara to end the 2011 season.
Offensively, T. Sullivan again led the Tigers at the plate with three hits in four trips to the plate as he finished the day 5-for-7 against Hornet pitching.
The Tigers will look for the series win on Sunday, Feb. 23 as the two teams meet for the fourth time on the weekend at Klein Family Field. The game is set for 1:00 pm with the Tigers' playing their first Salute The Troops game of the season. All military personnel both active and retired gain free admission to the game.