San Francisco, Calif. – Behind a season-high 12 runs and 18 hits, the Pacific baseball team held on against San Francisco, 12-9, on Sunday, April 13 to capture their second WCC series of the season. The win for the Tigers gave them a 2-1 series victory over the Dons as Pacific improved to 17-20 on the year and 7-8 in conference play. USF fell to 16-18 overall and 6-9 in WCC action.
In a game that saw 34 combined hits and 21 combined runs it was ultimately the pitching that proved to be the difference for the Tigers in the contest. With the game hanging in the balance, freshman John Jaeger (1) delivered a virtuoso performance in the clutch as the first-year Tiger shutdown a ninth inning rally by USF to earn his first collegiate save. Entering the game with the tying run on deck, Jaeger handled the top of the Don order, punching out a pair and inducing the game-ending ground ball to first to secure the win.
Prior to the ninth inning fireworks the Tigers' offense set the team up for success beginning in the first. Kicking off a slugfest at Benedetti Diamond for the second time in three days, sophomore Brett Sullivan started the scoring off with a bang as he blasted a 1-0 pitch over the right-center wall in the top of the first inning. The home run was B. Sullivan's team-best fourth of the year and marked the third round-tripper for the Tigers in the series.
Leading by one heading into the third inning, the Tigers came up with the first big inning of the game during their third trip to the plate. Sending nine to the plate in the inning, the Tigers posted their first crooked number of the game with four runs behind five hits and one big USF error.
After back-to-back bunts left the Tigers with a runner at first and one out in the inning, the top of Pacific's order went to work against the Dons' freshman starter. Kick starting the run for Pacific was junior Tyler Sullivan who combined with junior Jimmy Gosano to execute a perfect hit and run that put runners at the corners for the big bats of the Tigers. With runners at first and third, the Tigers grabbed their first run of the inning with a hard hit ball to first from junior Taylor Murphy. On the play, the Dons attempted to turn the ground ball into two outs, but instead threw the ball away allowing both Tiger runners to move to second and third.
Pacific immediately took full advantage of the opportunity for a big inning as B. Sullivan blooped a double down the left field line to bring in T. Sullivan from third while sophomore Gio Brusa followed with a two RBI single up the middle.
Leading by five, the Tigers saw the Dons cut into their lead in the bottom half of the third as USF rallied with two down to plate a trio of runs. Following Pacific's lead, the Dons used four hits and a handful of Tiger mistakes to do their damage. However, Pacific would get out of the inning when Brusa threw out a runner at second on a ball off the wall to end the threat.
In the fourth the two teams traded runs as Gosano, T. Sullivan, and Murphy again came through to plate a run for Pacific while the bottom of the Dons order delivered to setup their score.
Two innings later Pacific struck again for another run when B. Sullivan roped an RBI single to right to bring home sophomore J.J. Wagner. Wagner had begun the inning with a single to left before moving into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt.
The hit parade would pick back up in the top of the eighth when the Tigers replicated their feats from the third with another nine-batter, four-run inning. Working around the bases, Pacific grabbed RBIs from B. Sullivan, Brusa, Yakel, and Lockwood as the heart of the order laid waste to USF's bullpen which sent three different pitchers into the game before finally retiring the Tigers in the inning with a pair of runners aboard.
They would tack on their 12th and final run of the game in the top half of the ninth to pick up seven runs of insurance. Pacific used their big advantage to absorb the four-run rally by the Dons in the bottom half of the inning that saw all nine Don batters come to the plate.
Offensively, the Tigers saw T. Sullivan, B. Sullivan, Brusa, and Yakel all record three hits in the game as the top of Pacific's order picked up 13 of the 18 hits. In all, eight of nine starters recorded a hit. On the mound, junior Michael Benson (1-4) was awarded the win out of the pen after starter Will Lydon exited after four innings with the Tigers leading, 6-4.
Pacific is back at home on Tuesday, April 15 when the Bulldogs of Fresno State come to Klein Family Field for a midweek contest. First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 pm.