Stockton, Calif. - With one huge swing of the bat, junior Taylor Murphy came up with one of the biggest hits of his career as the third-year Tiger blasted a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 14th inning to give Pacific a 9-8 comeback win over Sacramento State on Tuesday, April 8. The win for the Tigers was their 15th of the year, surpassing their 2013 total as they improved to 15-19 overall. For the Hornets, the loss snapped a 12-game winning streak that started three weeks prior against Pacific in Sacramento as they fell to 20-12 on the season.
Stepping to the plate in the bottom of the 14th inning for his seventh at bat of the night, all the Tiger junior needed was one pitch and one swing to forget his early game struggles as Murphy sent the first pitch of the 14th deep into the night sky in right to end the epic clash between the two teams. The walk-off was the second of Murphy's career as he also sent the crowd at Klein Family Field home happy against Long Beach State back on April 7, 2013 against Long Beach State. Additionally, the home run was the first of the season for the Tiger right fielder but second of the game for Pacific.
Murphy's big hit was the culmination of a long comeback for the Tigers throughout the night as Pacific rallied multiple times to stun the visiting Hornets. In addition to Murphy's blast in the 14th, the Tigers also saw sophomore Gio Brusa come up big in the largest of moments in what seemed like a completely different game. Seven innings before his brother in the outfield came up with his walk-off home run, Brusa brought the crowd to its feet when he turned on a 2-0 pitch and sent the baseball down the right field line for a his first career grand slam. The bomb by Brusa was the first grand slam for the Tigers in two seasons and tied the game at 7-7 in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The Family, also know as Pacific's outfield, was not done coming up clutch for the Tigers on the night as it was junior Tyler Sullivan who saved the game for Pacific in the bottom of the 11th with an RBI single to right after the Hornets had taken back the lead with a run in the top half of the inning. Sullivan's RBI was made possible by the bottom of the Tigers' order after sophomore J.J. Wagner fisted a one-out single to left before moving to third on a perfectly executed hit and run with junior Jimmy Gosano. Wagner had entered the game four innings prior as a pinch runner for Pacific and played the final six innings for the Tigers at third base. The run for the Tigers came against the Hornets' all-american closer Sutter Mcloughlin who was in for his second inning of work against Pacific.
All of the Tigers' late game feats were made possible by the work of Pacific's bullpen which threw 10 innings against the Hornets and gave up just four hits and three runs. The Tigers' pen was needed after Sacramento State got to Pacific's starter for five runs in the first three inning of play to put Pacific on its heels early. However, senior Kyle Crawford would quiet the Hornets' bats after entering the game in the fifth and going 2.1 innings. The Hornets would plate two against the Tiger senior with help from an error in the field in the seventh, but Pacific's senior Jason Taasaas would end the threat with no further damage.
The Hornets would not strike again until the 11th when a leadoff walk came back to bite freshman John Jaeger (2-0) in the inning. With two outs and the runner on third, Nathan Lukes delivered an RBI single to center to bring in the go-ahead run which put Sacramento State ahead, 8-7. However, after his offense picked him up in the bottom half of the inning, Jaeger would settle into an unshakable groove as the first-year hurler threw the final three innings of the contest without relinquishing another baserunner to earn his second win of the season.
Prior to Jaeger, junior Bryce Lombardi and freshman Vince Arobio threw three scoreless innings for the Tigers as they kept the Hornets off the bases and off the board in the eighth, ninth, and 10th innings to give Pacific a chance.
Early on in the game the Hornets were in firm control as they scored four runs in the top of the first on three hits while tacking on a fifth run in the third to lead 5-0. Pacific would answer in the bottom half of the third when Gosano kick started the scoring rally with a leadoff single to center. He would score three batters later on a single off the pitcher by sophomore Brett Sullivan. The two Sullivan brothers would each score in the inning with the help of Sacramento State's battery that accounted for a passed ball and a pair of errors.
The Tigers will look to keep their momentum going from the walk-off win on Friday, April 11 in San Francisco when Pacific travels to USF to take on the Dons in WCC play. The first game of the three-game series is scheduled to begin at 3:00 pm from Evans Diamond.