Pacific baseball picked up its second-straight win on Tuesday night behind an outstanding night from its pitching in which the Tigers combined to strikeout 15 batters in a 5-3 win over Air Force at Klein Family Field.
Pacific's starter, Tommy Costello, fooled Air Force's hitters with eight strikeouts in six innings of work while sophomore Henrik Reinertsen added two and sophomore Nick Swanson struck out five in a two-inning save to help the Tigers to their first back-to-back win since March 10 and 13. Junior catcher James Free added in a two-run homer, his third, to provide enough insurance to hold on for the win.
Costello got the Tigers going with six strikeouts in the first four innings. The junior lefty went on to win his third game of the season. He did not allow a run in the game.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the first two Tigers reached when sophomore infielder Alex LeForestier was hit by a pitch and then sophomore catcher Bryce Kirk doubled to right to put runners in scoring position. In the next at-bat, junior Carter Hayes singled to score LeForestier and make it 1-0. In the next at-bat, junior infielder Grant Mona, who pinch-hit, singled to score Kirk and make it 2-0. Two batters later, another pinch hitter, Nate Verlin singled to score Mona and make it 3-0.
In the bottom of the sixth, a leadoff single from junior Keaton Glover set up James Free for a two-run bomb that he crushed from the left side of the plate to make it 5-0.
In the late innings, the defensive woes that have hurt Pacific in recent games struck again. With one out, an error by the Tiger first baseman allowed a run to score to make it 5-1. Later in the inning with two outs, a double to left allowed two Falcons to score to make it 5-3. Another run nearly scored on the play, but a stutter step from an Air Force player rounding third gave Hayes enough time to gun the runner out at home with the relay. The out got Pacific out of the inning and potentially avoided a potential game-tying opportunity. Air Force would have had the potential tying run standing at second.
In the eighth inning, Swanson entered and put his perfect ERA on the line. He struck out five Falcons and kept it intact in a two-inning save, his fourth of the year. He did allow two base runners and another Tiger error at first allowed a third in the ninth, but he struck out the game's final two batters to end the game and get the Tigers their 13th win of the year.
Swanson has been lights out in late innings for Pacific. He is yet to blow a save opportunity and has struck out 14 batters. The three runs that have scored against him in his 14.0 innings have all been unearned.
The win moved the Tigers to 8-2 at home. A win tomorrow would make it three-straight for Pacific before it turns its attention to a West Coast Conference series with Pepperdine this weekend at home.