Tigers' bullpen stellar in 6-3 win

Tigers' bullpen stellar in 6-3 win

Pacific baseball improved its program-best start tonight to 6-0 with a 6-3 win over Sacramento State at Klein Family Field.

The Tigers were led offensively by sophomore designated hitter Bryce Kirk who put together a three-RBI night; the first multi-RBI game of his career. Junior catcher James Free went 2-2 on the evening with an RBI and a run scored.

On the defensive side of the game, Pacific's bullpen was lights out. It used four pitchers in relief to navigate through five scoreless innings. Junior David Rajeski earned his first career win while sophomore Nick Swanson notched his first career save.

Pacific would get the win, but not before coming back from a 3-0 deficit.

Sacramento State opened the scoring in the top of the third inning when it plated three runs. The inning got going for the Hornets when the leadoff hitter, senior Brandon Grubbs, reached on an error by the Tiger shortstop then advanced to second on a passed ball. In the next at-bat, a single off the bat of sophomore Keith Torres scored Grubbs to make it 1-0. The next Hornet to the plate singled and was followed by another single that scored him to make it 2-0. Three batters later, with the bases loaded, senior left-handed pitcher Ricky Reynoso hit the Hornet batter to plate another run to make it 3-0.

In the bottom of the inning, Pacific pulled a run back when senior infielder Kevin Sandri got things going with a one-out single. Senior outfielder Nate Verlin and junior catcher James Free drew back-to-back walks to load the bases for sophomore designated hitter Bryce Kirk who hit a grounder to second base that scored Sandri to make it 3-1.

In the top of the fourth, Reynoso surrendered a leadoff double to end his game. He struck out six in 3.0 innings of work. Junior David Rajeski came in in relief for Reynoso.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Tigers took their first lead of the night thanks in part to shotty fielding by Sacramento State and a one-out double off the bat of Kirk. Junior Keaton Glover got things going with a leadoff single. Two batters later, an error by the Sacramento State pitcher allowed Glover to score from second to make it a 3-2 game. Free hit a sacrifice fly to center in the next at-bat to tie the game at 3-3. Kirk then slapped a double into right field to score Verlin from second to make it 4-3. It would go on to be the game-winning hit.

The RBI double gave Kirk his second of the night, surpassing his previous single-game high of one RBI.

In the top of the sixth inning, Rajeski gave way for freshman right-handed pitcher Dylan Pottgeiser. Rajeski got the Tiger bullpen started off right by tossing two scoreless innings with two strikeouts and two walks in his first win as a Tiger.

In the top of the seventh, Pottgeiser walked the leadoff batter before recording the first out. He left the fray in favor of sophomore right-handed pitcher Henrik Reinertsen who made his second appearance in as many days after earning the win on Thursday night. He retired five-straight batters and struck out three in an inning and a third of work.

Pacific's offense kept rolling in the bottom of the seventh with two more runs. Verlin and Free both reached base safely to start the inning when Kirk came up and grounded out to second to make it a 5-3 Tiger lead while also notching the first three-RBI game of his career. Two batters later, senior Bradley Jekich singled into right field to score Free from second to make it a 6-3 lead for Pacific.

Swanson worked the top of the ninth for Pacific allowing two walks, but no runners across to earn his first career save in the 6-3 victory for Pacific.

With the win, Pacific wrapped up the home portion of the four-game series with two wins and can clinch the series victory tomorrow in Sacramento at 6 p.m. A win tomorrow would also be Pacific's seventh straight, which would be the team's longest win streak since 2016.