Power Surge Not Enough As The Tigers Drop The Opener At Saint Mary's

Gio Brusa - Photo by KeithSanpeiPhoto.com
Gio Brusa - Photo by KeithSanpeiPhoto.com

Moraga, Calif. - In a back and forth contest, Pacific came up on the short end of the stick as Saint Mary's held on to defeat the Tigers, 6-5, on Friday, March 13. The contest opened the WCC slate of games for both teams as Pacific fell to 1-15 overall and 0-1 in WCC play while the Gaels improved to 11-6 on the year and 1-0 in conference play.

Jumping out front to start the game, the Gaels scored first with a pair of runs in the opening frame to force Pacific to play from behind. In the inning, the Gaels were able to string together three-straight hits to do their damage with the big hit coming from Connor Hornsby who drove in both runs with his first and only hit of the afternoon.

After falling behind in the opening inning, the Tigers slowly worked their way back into the game in the middle innings with a little help from the Gaels. In the fourth, the Tigers came up with their first unearned run of the game when junior Gio Brusa walked and moved to third on a failed pick off that got thrown into right field. He would score moments later on a ground ball by junior J.J. Wagner.

Keeping the power surge in March going, the Tigers tied the game up in the top of the fifth inning when junior J.P. Yakel turned on 2-2 pitch to start the inning, sending it well over the wall in left field for the solo home run. For Yakel, the home run was the first of his career and eighth of the month for the Tigers after hitting just one in February.

Reenergized by the home run, the Tigers proceeded to steal the go ahead run in the frame when they converted a dropped third strike to sophomore Danny Mayer into a run. After moving to third on a single down the third base line, Mayer came into score the second run of the inning on a ground out to short. Fortunately for the Tigers, junior Tyler Sullivan was off on the pitch from first which kept Pacific out of the double play allowing Mayer to score.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, the lead was brief as they gave back the run in the bottom half of the inning when an error was cashed in by the Gaels. However, the Tigers responded right back in the top of the sixth on a long bomb by Brusa. Brusa had walked twice in his first two at bats but did not fall asleep on the mistake by the Gaels' starter, Corbin Burnes (4-0). The home run was the third of the season for Brusa and marked the third-straight game in which Pacific has hit multiple home runs.

Just as they had done an inning prior, the Tigers immediately saw their lead disappear as the defense cost starter Sean Bennetts two more runs with their fourth error of the game. The error allowed Saint Mary's to score a pair of runs in the inning as the Gaels retook the lead in the teeter-totter contest. 

After being held off the board in the seventh, Pacific tacked on its fifth run of the game in the top of the eighth inning as they tied the game on a ground ball to first by Wagner. Wagner's ball scored senior Jimmy Gosano from third after the Tiger shortstop had reached on an error and moved to third on Brusa's second hit of the day.  

However, it was not to be as the Gaels scored in the bottom of the eighth with two unlucky breaks for senior Michael Hager (0-2) in the inning. Saint Mary's was able to plate the winning run as the Gaels reached on a controvertial infield single and then scored on a ball up the middle that hit second base, taking away any chance of the Tigers making a play at the plate.

Pacific would threaten in the ninth as the Tigers loaded the bases for the heart of the order, but Anthony Gonsolin (4) was able to get himself out of the jam with a strike out and preserve the win for Burnes. Burnes went 8.0 IP with four hits and five runs given up, two earned while striking out six. Bennetts in the no decision gave Pacific a quality start as he went 6.0 IP with six hits against and five runs given up but just like Burnes, only two were earned.

The Tigers will attempt to even the series at 1-1 on Saturday, March 14 when they send sophomore Will Lydon to the mound against the Gaels. The game is scheduled for 1:00 pm.