Tigers Take Two To Open Play Against Utah Valley
Stockton, Calif. - Finally getting to play some games around the weather that has wreaked havoc on Pacific's home schedule, the Tigers took both ends of their Saturday doubleheader with the visiting Utah Valley Wolverines, winning 5-2 and 4-2, at Klein Family Field. The wins pushed Pacific's record to 6-5 on the season while the Wolverines fell to 2-8.
Behind a gem from junior Michael Hager (2-0), the Tigers came up with the opening win of the series after a week of waiting for the rains to pass in Stockton. Despite all the delays, Hager had no problem finding his groove early as the big junior righty dominated the Wolverine lineup through eight spotless innings of work. Throwing his first and the Tiger's fourth-straight quality start, Hager allowed just two hits on the day and faced just one batter over the minimum after getting some help from his defense to erase the only threat of the afternoon.
With Hager dealing on the hill, the Tigers' offense took control of the contest early and never let go en route to the win. Pounding out 11 hits and scoring five runs, the Tigers picked up production up and down the lineup to do their damage.
Pacific got on the board in the first inning of action when the Sullivan brothers combined to dent the plate. After junior Tyler Sullivan slashed a double down the left field line, sophomore Brett Sullivan brought home the run with a sacrifice fly to left. The elder Sullivan was able to come home on the fly ball after moving to third on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore J.J. Wagner.
The Tigers tacked on a second run in the bottom of the fifth when T. Sullivan struck again, this time driving in a run of his own. Sullivan's RBI single was made possible after freshman Parker Klein led the inning off with a double off the wall in left and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by junior Jimmy Gosano.
Up 2-0, the Tigers solidified the victory an inning later with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth when the strung together four hits and used another sacrifice fly. With one run already across in the inning, Klein struck for one more as the freshman laced a single to left for his second hit in as many innings. For good measure, the Tigers notched a fifth and final run in the seventh when sophomore Gio Brusa lined a shot back up the middle to bring home Wagner.
The Wolverines would plate two against the Tigers' pen in the top of the ninth, but the rally would fall short against freshman Vince Arobio. After giving up a pair of runs, Arobio finished off the win for the Tigers by catching the Wolverines' cleanup hitter looking. With Arobio holding the win for the Tigers, the loss went to Andrew Freter (0-2) as he went 6.0 innings while giving up nine hits and four runs.
With the opener under their belt, the Tigers made it two in the night cap through clutch hitting and timely pitching. Picking up right where he left off in the afternoon, the freshman, Klein, stayed hot at the plate with a 3-for-4 effort to lead the Tigers' attack. The young DH got the Tigers rolling in the second inning with his first hit of the game, a single into the right-center gap that brought in the first two runs of the game. Klein's RBIs came after Brusa led the inning off with a single through the right-side and an error in the field by the Wolverines.
The Tigers would give one back in the top of the fourth after Utah Valley lined back-to-back two-out doubles off of Tiger starter, senior John Haberman (2-0), cutting Pacific's lead in half. Despite the trouble, Haberman would get himself out of the jam and hold onto the lead, allowing his offense to strike back for a single run in the bottom of the fifth after the Wolverines walked the Tigers' opening two hitters of the frame to get themselves into a jam. The jam would be too much for starter Ryan Evans (0-1) to overcome as he was lifted in the inning only to see one of his runners come home on a sacrifice fly by senior Erik Lockwood.
After getting the run back in the fifth, the Tigers relinquished it back in the very next frame when Seth Rhineer came up with his second-straight double to lead off the inning. he would score two batters later on a pair of ground balls. The run would be the last given up by Haberman as the lefty gave way to his bullpen which finished off the night.
Junior Michael Benson picked up his third save of the season with a flawless ninth as the fourth reliever into the game for the Tigers. The junior came into the game to protect a two-run advantage for the Tigers after Pacific tacked on an insurance run in the seventh inning on a Lockwood RBI single that brought home B. Sullivan from third.
In all, Haberman lasted went 5.2 innings while giving up five hits and two runs to grab his second victory of the season. Evans suffered the loss in 4.0 innings pitched after giving up four hits and three runs while walking four.
Offensively, Klein finished the day 5-for-7 to lead Pacific's charge while B. Sullivan close out a 3-for-5 effort at the plate.
The two teams will meet again for a doubleheader on Sunday, Mar. 2 with the opening contest being scheduled for 10:00 am at Klein Family Field. The final game of the series will begin 45 min after the completion of the opening contest.