Stockton, Calif. – The Pacific Tigers kept on winning, defeating the Loyola Marymount Lions 7-1 in the series opener to move to .500 in WCC play and capture their seventh-straight W. Pacific has a 1.97 ERA during their winning streak, the longest since the Tigers also won seven in a row in 2014.
On the mound again after his first complete game shutout last week against Portland was Will Lydon. The junior got another complete game, the fifth time this year he has pitched over seven and the third CG this season for Lydon. He has now allowed just one run in his last 18 innings pitched, lowering his ERA to 3.72 on the year with his second victory.
The starter for Loyola Marymount was J.D. Busfield, who entered the game 3-3 with a 3.72 ERA. The Tigers tagged Busfield for the most runs in his last 38 appearances and the second-most runs he had ever allowed as they scored seven runs against him.
Lydon started the game with two easy flyouts before the Lions doubled to right center. The hard contact didn't bother Lydon, who immediately struck out the next man swinging. It would be the only extra-base hit of the day for LMU and one just three hits that even reached the outfield.
The defense helped Lydon keep rolling in the second. The first batter sent a liner into right that sliced away from Gio Brusa. The senior was chugging as fast as he could and slid to his knees, grabbing the ball as he tumbled over for the first out. The next batter reached on an infield single and was quickly erased as Kevin Sandri started a picture-perfect 6-4-3 double play.
Brusa made it 12 games in a row with a run scored when he launched a ball into orbit over the right-center wall in the second inning, making it 1-0. Brusa sent the second pitch he saw in the at-bat far enough for a homer but saw it curve foul. The next pitch he straightened out put it in the bullpen for his ninth homerun.
Since starting the year 2-for-15 in the WCC, Brusa has hit .500 with 14 runs, four doubles, eight homers, and 14 RBI. The hit made it 22 of the last 24 plate appearances that Brusa has reached base.
Lydon faced just one over the minimum through seven innings as he looked lights out all game. After allowing a single in the second, Lydon got a double play and retired 16 straight, not allowing another baserunner until the eighth.
The conference-lead tie in homeruns between Brusa and Mayer was short-lived, as Mayer sent a rocket over the leftfield wall, making it 3-0. Nate Verlin reached base to start the inning with a bouncing single straight up the middle to give him a four-game hitting streak during which he is hitting .500 with four runs.
Mayer then muscled around on a pitch to become the first Tiger since Mike Walker in 2010 to have double-digit homers in a season. Mayer's homer moved him to sixth in the WCC in RBI with 29 on the year. He has 16 RBI during WCC play, which is the fourth-most in the conference. Mayer has also now reached base in 18 consecutive games.
Louis Mejia and J.P. Yakel singled back-to-back to start the fifth. Both singles dropped in almost the exact same place in short right. Sandri's soft grounder in the middle of the infield moved both runners up.
Jimmy Boras drove in the first run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to left, moving both runners up and giving Boras his fourth RBI in the last seven games. Verlin's second single of the day scored Yakel to make it 5-0. At home, Verlin is now hitting .380 with 14 runs and 15 RBI.
It was another blast from Brusa that started the sixth. The senior sent the first pitch to dead center over the wall by a long shot for his tenth homer of the year. That homer gave Brusa and Mayer ten homers each, tying them for the lead in the WCC and putting them 27th in the nation. The last time multiple Tigers had double-digit homers in a season was 2006, when Justin Baum and Matt Berezay had 12 and 11, respectively.
The homer also gave Brusa his second multi-homer game in the last week, as he hit two against Portland last Saturday as well.
Sandri kept up his hot home hitting with a double on the first pitch in the seventh. Sandri is hitting .333 with 11 runs and nine RBI in the friendly confines of Klein Family Field this year, with five of his six doubles. Sandri scored when Verlin singled for the third time in the game, giving him two games in a row with multiple RBI.
Lydon returned for the eighth, looking for his third complete game in his last five outings. The junior allowed a bloop single to start the inning to end his streak of 16 men in a row retired. Another single came later in the inning on an awkward hop for LMU's third infield hit of the game. Sandri ranged over the second base bag to grab a grounder and start another double play. Lydon faced just 26 men through eight innings, two over the minimum.
Sandri and Mejia collided in the ninth inning on a grounder that gave the Lions their fifth hit. Thankfully, both players were alright and remained in the game none the worse for the wear.
Another single followed as Loyola Marymount had just their second hit that reached the outfield. The ball just barely eluded Verlin's glove on a high hop to his right.
Lydon gave up his first run in his last 17.1 innings of work when LMU managed another single that bounced down in front of Boras to score the runner from third and make it 7-1. That was all she wrote for the Lions thanks to another double play, this one going 6-4-3 to end the game.
The Tigers next game will be Star Wars Night tomorrow and will begin at 7:00 pm. The series wraps up on Sunday at 1:00 pm. Tickets for all home games are available online.
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