Scorching Hot Tigers Take Two From San Diego

Mike Hager - Photo by: Keith Sanpei
Mike Hager - Photo by: Keith Sanpei

Stockton, Calif. - Staying scorching hot in the month of April, the Pacific baseball team took a pair of contests from San Diego, 4-3 and 5-1, on Saturday, April 26 to run their winning streak to seven games. Pacific improved to 23-20 overall and 12-8 in WCC play as the Tigers threw their name into the hat for the upcoming WCC Championship Tournament at Banner Island Ballpark in late May. The Toreros fell to 27-16 on the year and 11-9 in conference play as they dropped their fifth-straight conference game and second-straight series.

Pacific's seven-game winning streak matches its fifth longest streak in program history and is its longest streak since its seven-game streak during the 2000 season.

Game One
The Tigers got off to a perfect start against the Toreros in the first game of the doubleheader as Pacific notched a first inning run against San Diego and starter Louie Lechich (7-2). The Tigers came up with a back-to-back doubles out of junior Taylor Murphy and sophomore Brett Sullivan as the second-year sophomore drove in Murphy for the first run of the game.

The quick start would help Pacific absorb the offensive strike by the Toreros in the top of the third as San Diego rallied with two outs in the inning to plate a pair of runs. Helping out his own cause, Lechich drove in the first run of the inning with a double down the left field line before scoring on a single by Josh Goossen-Brown.

Suddenly trailing, the Tigers immediately went back to work in support of starter Michael Hager (3-4) as Pacific responded with two runs in the bottom half of the third to recapture the lead. Singling up the middle to start the inning, B. Sullivan would come around to score the first run of the inning on a throwing error by the Toreros after moving to third on a double by sophomore Gio Brusa. Brusa, who moved to third on the error scored moments later when senior Erik Lockwood slashed a shot to center to make it a 3-2 Tiger lead.

In the sixth, Pacific tacked on a critical run of support when Brusa doubled down the left field line before eventually scoring on a passed ball. Brusa's trot home on the passed ball robbed Lockwood of an RBI as the senior ripped a double down the left field line for good measure.

With four runs on the board, the Tigers' pitching staff had to make them all count as Hager made the most of the support with his second-consecutive high quality start as he went 7.0 strong innings while scattering five hits including just one over his final three innings of work. Hager stayed around the zone all day long as he struck out four and walked just one before giving way to his bullpen. In the eighth, junior Bryce Lombardi started the inning and picked up a pair of outs before handing the ball to freshman Vince Arobio who promptly stranded two runners on base with a strike out of Jesse Jenner. In the ninth, the Tigers went to their freshman closer John Jaeger (5) who picked up his fifth save in six games despite relinquishing a run to the Toreros on back-to-back doubles.

Game Two
With one win under their belts courtesy of the big-time effort out of Hager, the Tigers turned to sophomore ace Jake Jenkins (5-2) to work his magic once again and lead Pacific to the series win. With the ball in hand, Jenkins did not disappoint as the sophomore dealt the No. 3 offense in the country a losing hand all night long as he came up just one out short of a second-straight complete game.

After a touchy first inning that saw the first two batters of the game reach and advance into scoring position, Jenkins settled in for the long haul as he dominated the Torero bats for eight solid innings. After giving up just four singles in the first four innings of play, Jenkins worked perfect innings in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings of the night before finally walking the leadoff batter in the eighth to break his streak of 10-straight batters retired. In the ninth, the Toreros would finally get to Jenkins for the first time as he gave up a leadoff double and single before a sacrifice fly brought home the lone run of the game for San Diego. The run scored against Jenkins was the first scored against the sophomore Hurler in his last 19.1 innings of work dating back to the sixth inning of his no-decision at San Francisco on April 12. In his last 23.2 innings of work, Jenkins has allowed just two earned runs as his ERA fell to just 1.76 in WCC play. Overall, Jenkins went 8.2 innings against the tough-hitting Toreros and allowed just six hits and one run while striking out four.

With a run across and two outs and two on, Jenkins would exit the contest in place of Arobio. Just as he did in game one, Arobio (1) struck out the lone batter he faced to earn his first collegiate save and send the Tigers home with another series sweep.

For Jenkins, the win was bolstered by his offense giving him five runs of support, led by B. Sullivan's hot bat. B. Sullivan started the day for the Tigers with driving in the first two runs of the game as he struck for RBI singles in both the first and third innings of play. Back to their old tricks, B. Sullivan's RBIs came courtesy of his older brother, Tyler Sullivan, who worked himself out of a small slump with a pair of infield singles to set up the scores. In the third, the Tigers would also add a pair of unearned runs behind B. Sullivan's single as the sophomore came into score courtesy of a throwing error once again when J.P. Yakel grounded a ball to short, only to have the throw on to first on the double-play attempt skip by the first baseman and into the Tiger dugout. Two wild pitches later and Yakel was back in the dugout celebrating with his team the fourth run of the game. 

In the seventh, Brusa would pick up an RBI on a ball back to the pitcher that richocced to second, allowing junior Jimmy Gosano to score from third. Gosano had started the inning off with a double down the left field line.

On the day, B. Sullivan led the attack as he went 4-for-7 with three RBI and two runs scored. Lockwood and Brusa each added three hits and an RBI as Pacific out-scored the top offense in the conference, 9-to-4.

The Tigers will go for their second-consecutive series sweep on Sunday, April 27 as the two teams meet for the final time at Klein Family Field at 1:00 pm.