Pacific baseball's offense continued to generate runs on Saturday in a 9-6 victory over Seattle at Klein Family Field.
The Tiger offense got going from the start with three runs in the first two innings, but a three-run second inning out of Seattle made the game much closer. The Tiger offense pushed three more runs across in the fourth inning and a three-run bomb off the bat of James Free in the seventh added enough padding to see the game through. Free went 2-3 at the plate with five RBIs, the most in a game for Pacific since redshirt senior Nate Verlin plated five in 2018 at Portland. It was the most at Klein Family Field since 2017 when Matt Tarantino had five against Cal Poly in 2017.
The day was originally slated for two games, but mother nature threw a wrench into the plans and forced the doubleheader to be just one game. The weekend's series has now been shortened from four games to three with tomorrow's series finale now slated for an 11 a.m. start.
Pacific's offense got going by leaning on something the coaching staff has put an emphasis on; plate discipline. Senior outfielder Bradley Jekich got the Tiger offense going with a leadoff walk in Pacific's first trip to the plate. The walk put pressure on Seattle which committed an error in the next at-bat and then its starter, Will Smith, hit Verlin with a pitch to load the bases. In the next at-bat, James Free hit a sac fly to left to score Jekich and make it 1-0. The inning's fifth batter, sophomore infielder Alex LeForestier, ripped a single to score senior infielder Kevin Sandri to make it 2-0.
The game's first inning was Smith's last as the Tiger offense got into Seattle's bullpen early. Alex Jemal took over on the mound in the second inning and went on to toss five innings and was tacked with the loss.
In the top of the second, Seattle got on the board with three runs to take a brief 3-2 lead.
The Redhawks got to Pacific's starter, junior right-handed pitcher Ryan Shreve, who gave up back-to-back singles to start the inning. A third single off the bat of Kyle Sherick gave Seattle its first run of the game. A wild pitch and a throwing error to third following a play at the plate allowed a second run to score to tie the game at 2-2. Shreve struck out Jake Taylor for the inning's first out. The inning's fifth batter, Julian Kodama, doubled with one out to score Sherick and make it a 3-2 Seattle lead. Shreve settled and forced back-to-back flyouts to end the inning.
Shreve would settle in following the second inning and tossed four scoreless innings following on the way to earning his second win of the year. He's 2-0 to start the season with a 1.80 ERA.
In the bottom of the second, Pacific tied the game when another leadoff walk and back-to-back hit by pitches loaded the bases. Senior Kevin Sandri grounded out to the shortstop to score junior outfielder Keaton Glover to re-take the lead.
While Shreve retired the next seven batters, the Tiger offense tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. A single, walk and another Tiger batter hit by a pitch loaded the bases to create a situation in which Verlin hit a sac fly to left to score sophomore infielder Wyatt Hoffman, who reached on a one-out single to make it 4-3 and retake the lead.
Hoffman was 1-2 on the day with a walk, hit by pitch and a run scored. He continues to make things happen offensively for the Tigers and is hitting .500 to start the year.
Following Verlin's sac fly, Free roped an RBI single to right to score Jekich for his second RBI of the night. Pacific scored one more on a smart double-steal. With runners on the corners, both players went and Seattle's catcher threw down to second where Free allowed himself to be caught in a run-down to let Sandri steal home. Free would be retired on the play, but not before Sandri crossed the plate to make it a 6-3 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, a single from Sandri and a walk from Verlin brought Free to the plate with no outs. He turned on a pitch from Ethan Christianson and crushed a moon shot over Klein Family Field's tall left field fence to make it a 9-3 game. The three-run dinger was Free's second homer of the year and gave him five RBIs for the game. The bomb was also pivotal as it gave Pacific enough padding to hold on. Free now leads the Tigers in RBIs with 12. Verlin is second with 10.
The top of the eighth inning turned into a dangerous one for Pacific. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Lucas Sweany walked the Redhawks leadoff batter and a single and hit by pitch loaded the bases. Sweany got the Tigers the second out of the inning with a strikeout before being pulled for sophomore right-handed pitcher Nick Swanson. He tossed a wild pitch to his first batter that let a run score to make it 9-4 then a two-RBI single made it 9-6, but he worked out of the inning with two consecutive outs.
Swanson remained in to work the ninth and worked a clean inning. He struck out the game's final batter with a nasty breaking pitch that found the zone to earn him his second save of the year in the 9-6 victory.
The win moved Pacific to 9-1 making this edition of the Pacific Tigers the first to win nine of its first 10 games.
The Tigers will close the series out tomorrow against Seattle with the third and final game of the weekend starting at 11 a.m.