Portland, Ore. - Breaking out the bats in a big way, the Tigers took a series-clinching victory over the Portland Pilots, 10-6, on Saturday night at Joe Etzel Field. Pacific continued its current streak in the win column as they pushed ahead to four-straight victories to improve to 14-18 overall and 6-8 in conference play while the Pilots fell to 13-21 on the year and 1-10 in WCC action.
Picking up where they left off the night before, the Tigers' offense went to work early against the Pilots as Pacific took advantage of Portland miscues in the field to set up scoring chances that they would eventually cash in for runs in both the third and the fourth innings of play. In the third, the Tigers put a runner in scoring position to begin the frame when Kevin Sandri reached and moved to second on a ball hit to third that forced an errant throw by Portland. Sitting at second, the freshman would come in to score minutes later when Danny Mayer slashed a double the other way, switching places with Sandri to get Pacific on the board.
After giving up a run of their own thanks in part to an error in the bottom of the third, the Tigers would go back to work in the top of the fourth to reclaim the lead. Once again, a Pilot error would set up the chance as Louis Mejia reached on an error with one out and moved all the way to third after stealing second and taking an extra 90 feet on a bad throw by the Pilots' catcher. 90 feet from paydirt, the Tigers would not waste the chance to score when J.P. Yakel singled home his classmate with a ball down the right field line, his first of two hits on the nights.
Just as they had done the previous inning, the Pilots responded with runs in the bottom half of the frame as a second Tiger error gave Portland life from which it spawned two runs to take what would be their only lead of the game. Despite the mistakes and the sudden deficit, the Tigers' offense would not be deterred as Pacific broke the game wide open in the top of the fifth with their first crooked number of the contest. Kicking off the inning with a bang, junior Blake Barry blasted his first home run in the orange and black on the first pitch of the inning to knot the game at 3-3.
Back tied, Pacific would put the Pilots behind to stay two batters later when senior Gio Brusa turned on a 1-2 mistake and deposited the baseball over the wall for a two-run home run. Brusa's blast came after his running-mate, Danny Mayer, was plunked on the first pitch of his at bat to put the go-ahead run aboard. With the lead in hand, Pacific would tack on a fourth run in the inning after an error gave the Tigers yet another free runner. After moving to third, on a single by Louis Mejia, Nate Verlin would dent the plate for the final time in the inning when Jimmy Boras layed down a squeeze bunt to help Pacific double-up the Pilots in the game.
Well out in front, the Tigers left no doubt with a pair of two run innings in the sixth and seventh innings of action. Proving himself to be one of the hottest and most feared hitters on the West Coast, Brusa put the game out of reach in the sixth with his second long blast of the night as the senior went the other way with a 2-0 pitch from Jackson Lockwood to make it an 8-3 Tiger advantage. In the seventh the Tigers used three extra-base knocks to do their damage as Verlin began the inning with his third triple of the season. Two batters later Boras traded places with the sophomore first baseman as the speedy centerfielder slashed a shot the other way down the left field line for a triple of his own. Not to be left out of the fun, Yakel ripped a double to left moments later to put Pacific at an even 10 runs for the game.
In all, Pacific came up with 11 hits, seven of which went for extra-bases. Leading the way was Brusa who posted his second career two hom run contest while also tallying a single and picking up a pair of intentional walks while driving in four runs. Boras would finish with two hits while Yakel added two of his own for good measure.
On the mound, the Tiger picked up a solid effort out of a trio of pitches with the freshman Ricky Reynoso going 3.0 innings while giving up six hits and one run before giving way to the eventual winning pitcher, Fineas Del Bonta-Smith (3-2). Del Bonta-Smith would earn the win over the Pilots with 2.0 innings of four-hit ball. Finishing off the game for the Tigers, super-senior Bryce Lombardi (2) grabbed the save as the fifth-year hurler went four innings while giving up five hits, three runs, and striking out six.
Pacific will look for the season-sweep of the Pilots on Sunday when they send their ace, Jake Jenkins, to the bump. The game is scheduled for 11:00 am.