Stockton, Calif. – The Pacific Tigers lost the final game of their series against the Northern Colorado Bears 8-1 as the rain descended and cut the game short in the eighth inning. Pacific won the first game of the rare Sunday doubleheader 8-5 but couldn't push enough runs across the plate in game two. The Tigers are now 4-8 this year, while Northern Colorado moves to 3-9.
Taylor Johnson got the nod as a starter for the first time in his career. He had appeared in 17 games previously, all as a reliever. Johnson would go four innings, giving up just one run but ending up with the loss as Northern Colorado struck first and never relinquished their lead.
Nick Tanner started for Northern Colorado and also hit fourth in the lineup. He earned his first win of the year with six innings of one-run ball while contributing a hit at the plate. Joe Love pitched one perfect inning in relief before the game was called with one out in the top of the eighth inning.
Louis Mejia had the first hit of the game for either team when he laced the ball to right on a line in the second. The hit moved Nate Verlin into scoring position, as the first baseman had drawn a walk just a few pitches earlier. Mejia and Verlin would each end the game perfect, as they both went 2-for-2. Verlin also walked and scored the game's only run for Pacific.
Northern Colorado struck for three runs in the top of the fifth, chasing Johnson. A leadoff double was followed up by a single, driving in the first run of the game. Two singles and two walks gave the Bears another run and left the bases loaded with one out. Pacific nearly turned a double play to end the inning but UNC's Tyler Yamaguchi just beat the throw to first, driving in the third run of the inning before Jordon Gonzalez got a fly out to end it.
Verlin singled to start the bottom of the fifth as Pacific looked to cut into their newfound deficit. Mejia moved Verlin into scoring position once again with a double to the wall in left. J.J. Wagner sent a liner to deep rightfield for the sac fly, making it 3-1.
J.P. Yakel hit a bouncing ball into the hole to move Mejia to third and eek out a single. Pacific's catcher was hustling down the line, beating the fading throw by half a step to make it to first. Kevin Sandri was the victim of bad luck after that as his line drive was snagged by the pitcher to start a double play, ending Pacific's last scoring threat of the day.
Three more runs scored for Northern Colorado in the sixth as the rain began to fall and cause problems for the pitchers. A throwing error scored two, followed by a single to center scoring a third and making it 6-1. A balk scored another, followed by an RBI single to center. Miles Haddad, making his second pitching appearance of his career, got a double play to escape the five-run inning.
In the seventh, Shelby Lackey worked out of a bases loaded jam. Lackey had to face men on second and third with no outs, whiffing a man to get the first out. After a walk, Lackey forced a popout and a foulout, stranding all three runners.
Blake Barry pinch-hit in the bottom of the seventh, making his home debut and getting his first at-bat. Barry worked a walk to get on board. Fineas Del Bonta-Smith also got his first at-bat as a Tiger but couldn't get on, as the Pacific offense was held in check despite Barry's walk and Verlin's line drive single to center.
Grant Shives came on and faced two batters before the game was called for rain. Shives retired the first man he faced as conditions worsened, with a double to the leftfield corner ending the game in the top of the eighth.
Next up after today's doubleheader for the Tigers is one game against South Dakota State this Tuesday at 6:30 pm. That game will be the first Dollar Dog Night for the Tigers, as well as the first koozie giveaway. Tickets for the game are available online.
Make sure to follow Pacific baseball on Twitter with the username @PacificBaseball and on Instagram at pacificbaseball.