Pacific fell to a potent Seattle offense today, 8-1, at Klein Family Field.
Seattle jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first and never looked back. Pacific starting pitcher, junior lefty Tommy Costello, struck out nine batters and allowed two walks and two hits with two earned run in his 4.1 innings of work. He was tacked with his first loss of the season. Senior outfielder Tyler Ryan hit his first career home run and junior catcher James Free strung together his fourth-straight multi-hit game with a double and a single.
Despite the loss on Sunday, Pacific still took the series win from Seattle but allowed a total of 19 runs in the process. In today's game, Seattle's defense took several hits away with solid plays, but the Tigers also struck out 12 times.
"This weekend was okay. Just okay to be honest," head coach Ryan Garko said. "It's great to win the games, but I thought we played pretty sloppy all weekend. We have to get a lot better. Give Seattle U some credit, they played well, but we still have a long way to go."
Seattle opened the game by getting to Costello in the top of the first when he allowed a leadoff single and a walk before a single in the inning's third at-bat brought home the first run of the game. Costello did strike out the side but needed to face six batters to do so. He would settle in during the following three innings by retiring nine of the 11 batters he faced.
Seattle extended its lead with a two-out rally in the fourth inning. Costello got the first batter to fly out but gave up a walk in the next that spelled the end of his day. Freshman right-handed pitcher Elijah Birdsong took over on the mound and hit the first batter he faced and gave up a single in the next to load the bases. He earned the second out of the inning with a strikeout, but a two-RBI double and a two-RBI single gave Seattle a 5-0 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, Pacific pushed its first run across when Ryan homered to left center to make it 5-1.
The eighth inning put the game out of reach for Pacific and was an adventurous one for the Tigers' pitching and defense. Sophomore Henrik Reinertsen was on pace to work a clean inning when he retired the inning's first two batters, but he allowed back-to-back singles to put runners on first and second. In the next at-bat, Gavin Rork singled to center, but the Tiger defense made matters worse. Reinertsen failed to cut off the throw coming in from center near the mound then, first baseman Nate Verlin attempted to catch Rork going to second following Reinertsen's error but threw the ball back into centerfield which allowed Rork to score and clear the bases on the three-run play that was aided by two Tiger errors.
A bright spot in the game's final inning was freshman left-handed pitcher Michael DeFelippi, who pitched the first inning of his career, and used less than 10 pitches to retire the side.
"He worked quick and attacked hitters. He did exactly what we want our pitchers to do," Garko said. "It's great. Mike has come a long way. If you would've seen him in the fall and then seen the poise he showed on the mound today and his pitch angles, it was good. He's grown a lot. it's good for these kids to get out and play. They're the ones we're truly going to build the program around and its good for them to get experience."
Despite the loss, Pacific remains an outstanding 9-2 to start the year and turns its attention to another red-hot mid-major in Cal Baptist next weekend, which at the time of this release is also 9-2. It plays UC Riverside tonight at 6 p.m. The series features two of the hottest mid-major programs in California and could build a lot of confidence for the Tigers as they head into West Coast Conference play in two weeks.
However, Garko said his team has a lot of improving to do before they face the Lancers and that he is not fooled by his team's 9-2 record.
"I don't think about the wins and losses. There's a certain way that we should be playing, and we're not playing the way that we should and that burned us today. We need to play better defense. We need to base run better. We need to throw more strikes and we need to put together better at-bats. We have a long way to go. Cal Baptist is very good and it's going to be a tough road trip. This will be a good four-game series and I'm going to give some different guys some looks because I'm not happy with what I saw today."
Pacific opens the series against Cal Baptist on Thursday in a 6 p.m. game and plays each of the following days until Sunday.