Stockton, Calif. - Getting two in on the final day of the weekend, the Pacific baseball team captured its first series victory of the season with a split of the doubleheader against Utah Valley on Sunday, Mar. 2. The Tigers won the first game, 9-5, before dropping the time shortened, seven inning, second game, 8-5. With the split the Tigers moved to 7-6 on the year while the Wolverines moved to 3-9.
Hitting the field early on Sunday, the Tigers found themselves half awake to start the contest as mistakes both on the mound and at the plate proved costly to open the contest. Despite having some of his more dominant stuff to start the game, sophomore Jake Jenkins, found himself trailing after just one inning of work when an error helped the Wolverines score twice in the first inning of play. Through three innings of work, Jenkins had racked up seven strikeouts, but also found himself trailing in the game by three runs. None of the runs were charged to Jenkins, however, due to costly errors in the field and from his own hand as both of the scoring innings started with hit batters for the Wolverines.
Despite the mistakes, the Tigers found themselves right back in the game in the fourth when the Wolverines returned the gifts given to them by handing Pacific the chance to tie the game with three unearned runs of their own. The Tigers got the big hits out of the middle of their order as sophomore Brett Sullivan picked up the first RBI of the inning with a slow roller to second that scored junior Tyler Sullivan from third after he had reached on an error and moved to third on a sacrifice and passed ball. After sophomore Gio Brusa added a sharp single of his own, junior Taylor Murphy knotted the game at 3-3 with a two-RBI single to left-center.
Once again, the Tigers would find themselves playing from behind just two innings later as the Wolverines took advantage of yet another leadoff hit batter to plate a pair in the top of the sixth. Utah Valley had its chances to break the game open in the inning after loading the bases , but senior Kyle Crawford shut down the threat, keeping the Tigers close.
The finish to the inning by Crawford would be big for the Tigers as Pacific scored a single run in the fifth on an RBI triple by Murphy before taking the game over with a five-run seventh that sealed the series victory. In the seventh, the Tigers sent all nine batters to the plate, needing just two hits to do their damage as the Wolverines' pitching staff lost total control, walking four and giving up a pair of stolen bases. The icing on the comeback cake for Pacific came courtesy of Brusa who stole home for the final run of the game on a slow pick off throw to first.
On the mound, senior Kevin Hammann (1-0) grabbed his first win of the season as he went 1.1 innings of relief after entering the contest for Crawford in the top of the seventh. Hammann allowed just two batters to reach with a walk and a hit batter as he kept the Wolverines hitless while striking out three.
With the series won and the day quickly coming to a close due to Utah Valley's travel plans, the second game of the doubleheader was played to just seven innings. With less innings to work with, the Tigers ran out of time in their comeback bid as a wild seventh inning proved to be the difference on the day. After just three runs had crossed the plate through the first six inning of action, 10 runs dented the plate in the final inning of play with the Wolverines taking the win with a six-run top half of the seventh to out-do the Tigers' four-run response.
Just like game one, the Tigers gave away the opening score of the contest as an error in the field came back to bite freshman Will Lydon (0-2) for an unearned run in the top of the second inning.
Down one, the Tigers responded with a single run of their own in the fourth when B. Sullivan crushed his first home run of the season to deep right-center field to lead off the inning. The home run cut through the winds at Klein Family Field as throughout the weekend the winds of the earlier storm blew straight in from the outfield walls.
Watching Sullivan belt one to right-center spurred on the Wolverines as they responded with their own solo shot to the same spot just two innings later off the bat of Matt Krueger. Krueger proved to be a thorn in the Tigers' side all game long as he scored three runs in the game in four at bats, benefitting from a pair of Pacific errors on what appeared to be tailor-made double play balls.
In the seventh, the game got out of hand for both pitching staffs as Pacific's pen gave up six runs, one of which was inherited from Lydon while the Tigers got to the Wolverines' pen for four of their own. Again, two of the runs in the seventh for Utah Valley were unearned while won for the Tigers' came courtesy of a Wolverine mistake. In the inning, Utah Valley used six hits to do their damage with Spencer Gothberg coming up with a pair of singles in the innings as he made two trips to the plate. For Pacific, Brusa picked up his third-consecutive hit of the game with a bloop, two-RBI single down the left field line that plated the final two runs of the contest for the Tigers.
Overall, Lydon suffered the tough loss as he went 6.0 innings while giving up six hits and two earned runs. The freshman struck out six and walked one while hitting another. For the Wolverines, Devin Nelson (1-2) grabbed the win in 5.2 innings of work as he gave up six hits and just one run while striking out three. The save went to Chad Michaud despite the reliever giving up four hits and four runs in 1.1 innings of work as he entered the game in the sixth with the game still hanging in the balance for the Wolverines.
Pacific is back home on Tuesday, Mar. 4 with a single contest against Nevada at Klein Family Field. The game is scheduled for 6:00 pm, pending weather.