Pacific's Pitchers And Brusa's Big Day Leads To A Doubleheader Sweep In Portland

Gio Brusa - Photo by: Keith Sanpei
Gio Brusa - Photo by: Keith Sanpei

Portland, Ore. – Playing for the first time in nearly two weeks, the Pacific baseball showed no signs of rust as the Tigers ran off a pair of wins in doubleheader action, 6-1 and 6-2, on Saturday, May 10. The wins gave Pacific another WCC series victory and ran its record to 25-22 overall and 14-9 in conference play while the Pilots fell to 10-37 and 4-19 in WCC action. 

Game one
Despite seeing no pitching from the arm of an opponent in the month of May, the Tigers were unfazed as they took control of the day in the first inning of play and ran with their opportunities. Behind a pair of first inning walks, the Tigers set up their day with an early run against the Pilots when sophomore Gio Brusa drove in a first inning run with the first of three hits in the contest.

Two innings later, the Tigers would score what would-be the game-winning run against the Pilots thanks again to the top of the order when juniors Tyler Sullivan and Taylor Murphy posted back-to-back singles to set the table for the middle. With runners at second and third, sophomore Brett Sullivan brought in the second run of the game with a ground ball to the left side as Pacific took the 2-0 lead. 

Pacific would put the game away in the fifth with their first crooked number of the afternoon when four Tigers crossed the plate. Again, it was T. Sullivan that kick started the rally as the junior walked for the second time before moving to third on a double by the younger Sullivan. With two on in front of him, Brusa cleared the bases with his first of two doubles in the game. Two batters later it was senior Erik Lockwood's turn to produce as he laced a double to left to score Brusa. Senior John Haberman finished the run for the Tigers with an RBI single to left as Pacific made it a 6-0 game.

With the offense clicking, Pacific's pitchers took care of the rest as juniors Michael Hager (4-4) and Michael Benson (5) shutdown the Pilots at the plate. Starting the game, Hager went five solid innings for the Tigers while giving up just four hits and one run. He pitched his way out of trouble in both the third and the fourth innings before finally relinquishing his lone run in the fifth.  With the pitch count mounting, the Tigers called Benson out of the pen to finish off the contest. Dealing for the final four innings, Benson allowed just two Pilots to reach of his own volition before closing the game down in the ninth despite having to come up with five outs. The win was Hager's fourth of the year while the save was Benson's fifth. The two combined for seven strikeouts while giving up just five hits.


Game two
Having watched the two juniors take apart the Pilots in game one from the bump, sophomore Jake Jenkins (6-2) took his turn and continued the demolition with a four-hit, complete-game victory in game two. Jenkins complete game marked his third 9.0 inning win of the conference season as he became the first Tiger since Jake Hummel tossed a trio of complete games in 2011. With the win, Jenkins improved to 6-0 in conference play.

Jenkins big day was not without its hiccups, however, as the Pilots got to the second-year starter early for a pair of runs in the second inning. Coming up with three-straight singles and a ground ball RBI, the Pilots scored two in the second and had four hits on the board before Jenkins could hunker down and take total control. Through the final seven innings, Jenkins allowed just one batter with a one-out walk in the bottom of the third. From that point on, Jenkins was perfect as he retired the final 20 Pilots he faced in the contest. Overall, Jenkins gave up just four hits and two runs, one earned, while striking out seven and walking one in nine full innings pitched. 

With their ace dominating once again, the Tiger offense was able to take its time coming up with the runs it needed to sweep the day as Pacific scored two in the first before busting the game open with three in the sixth.

The two runs in the first came on a bases loaded single by sophomore J.P. Yakel after the Pilot defense gave Pacific an extra out.  Five innings later, the Pilots helped the Tigers out again as a wild pitch on a swing strike three allowed Pacific a leadoff runner in the sixth which it turned into a big inning. With a free runner aboard, the Tigers picked up hits by B. Sullivan and a two-RBI double off the bat of Brusa to score the first two runs of the inning. Two batters later, the Tigers stole their third run of the inning when Lockwood and Brusa combined for a perfectly executed suicide squeeze that put Pacific up 5-2. The Tigers would tack on a sixth and final run in the eighth on an RBI ground out by Lockwood that brought Brusa home from third.

Overall, Brusa led the offense with a 5-for-8 effort as he drove in five and scored three more runs. Both Sullivans finished the afternoon with three runs scored while B. Sullivan added an RBI for good measure. Yakel and Lockwood combined for five RBI as Pacific outscored Portland 12-to-3.

The Tigers will go for the series sweep on Sunday, May 11, when the two teams meet for the third and final time at 1:00 pm.