Stockton, Calif. - Playing to the same script they have run with during their recent string of success, the Pacific baseball team rallied late against the visiting Saint Mary's Gaels on Thursday, April 17, as the Tigers came away with a 5-4 win at Klein Family Field. The comeback moved the Tigers to within one game of .500 as Pacific sits at 19-20 overall while tallying an 8-8 record in WCC action. The Gaels saw their losing streak pushed to 11 games as they fell to 13-23 on the year and 5-8 in conference play.
Down and struggling to find their offense, the Tigers came up with just enough hits in clutch situations to score five runs over the final two innings of play to come away with the victory. Trailing by two and heading into the bottom of the seventh innings, Pacific finally was able to get on the board against Gaels' starter, Ryan Brockett (4-5), as Pacific came up with back-to-back hits from sophomores Gio Brusa and J.P. Yakel for the first time in the game to set up their inning. With the ball being put in play, Pacific finally caught the break it was looking for as a ground ball to second by senior Erik Lockwood was mishandled by the Gaels, allow Brusa to score from third while Yakel moved from first to third. With the extra opportunity presented to them, the Tigers did not waste the chance as Pacific flawlessly executed a suicide squeeze with Yakel at 90 feet from paydirt and sophomore Louis Mejia at the plate to steal the game tying run.
Even at 2-2, the Tigers quickly found themselves trailing once again just a half inning later as the Gaels pushed across a third run against starter Michael Hager to retake the lead. Hager allowed the run with two outs in the inning as he gave way to freshman Vince Arobio who promptly ended the Gael threat by punching out the lone batter he faced in the game.
Back behind Saint Mary's, the Tigers would not be denied their comeback as Pacific once again rallied against the Gaels thanks to a pair of triples from junior Taylor Murphy and Lockwood. For Lockwood, the three-bagger cleared the bases for the Tigers as he came through after both Brusa and Yakel had walked to load the bases with two outs in the inning.
In the ninth, freshman closer John Jaeger (3) had his first small hiccup in his new role for the Tigers as he allowed one run to cross on three singles, but ultimately struck out the side or his third-straight save in as many games. For good measure, it was Yakel who came up with the play of the game as he made a diving catch on a tipped third strike to end the contest for Pacific in dramatic fashion. Yakel's big play made up for a mistake in the first inning of the game when he was unable to hold on to a throw from Murphy at the plate that cost Pacific the second run of the opening inning.
Overall, Hager put together his best start of conference play as the junior righty produced a high-quality start in 7.2 innings pitched. In all Hager gave up seven hits and three runs, two earned, while striking out four and walking one in a no-decision. The win went to Arobio (2-1) as he struck out one in 0.1 innings while Jaeger went 1.0 inning while giving up three hits and one run and striking out three.
Brockett was ultimately tagged with the loss after giving up four hits and four runs, three earned, in 7.2 innings pitched. The senior threw 120 pitches before giving way to Jacob Valdez who gave up the game-winning triple to Lockwood in the eighth.
Lockwood finished his night going just 1-for-4 but producing a four RBI. In all, Pacific tallied five hits in the game with no Tiger recording more than one hit in the game.
Pacific hosts Saint Mary's for game two of its three-game series with the Gaels on Friday, April 18 at 6:00 pm. The Tigers will be Playing Purple for Relay for Life.