Pacific baseball picked up a big series win over a Sacramento State team that won 35 games in 2018, 6-2 in Sacramento on Sunday taking three out of four games from the Hornets and improving to 7-1 on the season.
Junior catcher James Free got the Tigers going in the first inning with a two-run home run and Hayden Pearce picked up a five-inning save, the first of his career, to shut down the game. Sophomore infielder Wyatt Hoffman went 3-4 at the plate with an RBI in his first career start while Free went 2-4 with two RBIs and senior Nate Verlin doubled twice.
The Tigers came out of the gate hungry to avenge their first loss of the season on Saturday and did so when Verlin cracked a two-out doubled to right after a hit by pitch bid was overruled by the home plate umpire. In the next at-bat, Free jumped all over a pitch an hit a no-doubter to right to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead in the top of the first.
Pacific got into Sacramento State's bullpen early as the Hornets' starter, Austin Roberts got the hook for Tanner Dalton to start the third. Dalton would go on to take the loss.
Sacramento State answered in the bottom of the first when leadoff hitter Bronson Grubbs got things going with a leadoff single. He would eventually advance to third before a single by Matt Smith drove him home to make it 2-1.
The score remained the same into the fourth inning when Sacramento State tied it up following a bunt single by Evan Gibbons that scored Dawson Bacho, who reached with a walk as the inning's first hitter. The bunt single spelled the end of Pacific's starter, Tommy Costello's day. He allowed five hits, four walks and two earned runs in his three innings of work. Junior David Rajeski took over on the mound and would go on to win his second game.
In the top of the fifth, Senior Kevin Sandri grounded out to second to score Hoffman who reached on a one-out single. The RBI groundout would go on to be the game-winner and served as a consolation prize to Sandri, who went 0-5 on the day despite putting several hard-hit balls into play and reached on an error to the second baseman, which took an awkward hop, in the eighth inning.
Pacific plated two more runs in the sixth inning to pad its lead. Free opened the inning with a double and a sacrifice off the bat of junior infielder Carter Hayes moved him over to third. Two batters later, junior Josh Winkler reached on a bunt single to score Free. Two batters later, Hoffman ripped a single up the middle to score sophomore Bryce Kirk, who walked in the inning, to make it 5-2. Hoffman has appeared in two games and is hitting 4-7 with two RBIs and a .571 average.
While the Tiger offense rolled, Pearce was cruising through the Sacramento State order. He retired nine of the final 10 batters he faced on his way to his first save, which took him five full innings to earn. He struck out three Hornets and allowed just two hits and two walks. His first save came after he made his first start against San Jose State on Tuesday.
In the eighth, Sandri extended the score with the final run of the game when he reached on an error by the second baseman that scored junior outfielder Keaton Glover.
The win moves Pacific to 7-1 and takes them into a four-day rest period following eight games in eight days to start the season. Pacific returns home on Friday when it hosts Seattle for four games in three days.