Stockton, Calif. - Finishing their four-game series against the visiting Alabama State Hornets, the Pacific baseball team gave up three runs in the top of the ninth inning to fall 5-2 on Sunday, Feb. 23. The late loss evened the weekend series at two games a piece between the two sides and dropped the Tigers to 4-5 on the year while the Hornets improved to 6-3.
Playing a tight contest for the third-straight game, the Sunday afternoon endeavor came down to timely hitting on the part of the Hornets who broke open a 2-2 tie in the ninth with three runs on three hits. The big hits in the inning were all of the extra-base variety as they used a one-out triple followed by an RBI double to break the stalemate before putting the game out of reach with a two-RBI double off the bat of Einar Muniz.
For Pacific the chances were plentiful at the plate and their start promising only to find the runs hard to come by in the end. The Tigers started strong, scoring a run in the second to take the initial lead in the contest. After a walk and a single put runners on first and second, junior Tyler Sullivan lined a single into right field that brought home Pacific's first run of the game. The Tigers would load the bases against the Hornets in the inning, but a mid-atbat pitching change proved to be the move of the game as Normando Valentin entered the contest and put an end to what could have been a huge inning for Pacific. Valentin proceeded to pitch the next 5.2 innings for the Hornets out of the pen, allowing just five hits and one run in relief of Julio Valdez.
Against Valentin, the Tigers put runners on in five of the six innings they faced the reliever, but came up empty until the eighth inning when junior Taylor Murphy provided a pinch-hit RBI single to even the contest. Murphy drove in senior Erik Lockwood who had reached on a leadoff single down the left field line, his third hit in four trips to the plate. The Tigers would get no more in the inning after Murphy was cut down at third trying to move up 90 feet on a ball in the dirt stalling out a potential go-ahead rally by Pacific.
Freshman Will Lydon got the start for the Tigers and came away with the no-decision as he went 6.0 innings while giving up four hits and two runs for Pacific's third-straight quality start. Lydon's lone blemishes on the day came in back-to-back innings when the young hurler allowed single runs in the fifth and the sixth innings to fall behind the Hornets in the game. The runs both came on two-out singles to right. The Tigers' pen worked the final three innings of play with senior Jason Taasaas throwing 1.2 innings of hitless relief for Pacific while picking up two strikeouts.
The Hornets' Hunter McIntosh (1-0) grabbed the win as he finished off the eighth inning for Alabama State in relief of Valentin after the Tigers' had tied the game at 2-2. Armando Ruiz (2) worked a perfect ninth inning to earn the save. The loss for the Tigers went to junior Michael Benson (0-1) as the Tiger closer gave up all three runs in the ninth inning to fall for the first time on the season.
Pacific is back in action on Wednesday, Feb. 26, on the road at San Jose State as the Tigers take on the Spartans at 6:00 pm.