Pacific baseball looked poised to take a win from the West Coast Conference's first-place team on Thursday night at Klein Family Field, but a grand slam for BYU in the 10th erased any chance at a Tiger victory.
Pacific trailed just once in a tight game with the Cougars in regulation and was an out away in the ninth inning, but six runs in the final two innings gave BYU the victory. Pacific's junior catcher James Free led the way for Pacific with a Klein Family Field record-tying two home runs and three RBIs while seniors Tyler Ryan and Kevin Sandri and freshman James Arakawa put together multi-hit nights in the loss.
BYU never led until the ninth inning but did tie the score three times prior to the ninth.
The Tigers used seven pitchers in the contest, three of which didn't allow runs in the game. Sophomore Nick Swanson was in line for the save for the Tigers in the ninth but was tacked with the loss following the game-winning grand slam.
Pacific's offense got going in the bottom of the first inning when Arakawa led off with a single and two batters later, Free hit his first home run of the game to make it 2-0. Two batters later, Ryan looked to have a home run of his own, but it died against the wall and bounced off into to play to give the senior outfielder a triple, his first of the year. He would come into score in the next at-bat following a double from Kevin Sandri.
Pacific's starter, sophomore Lucas Sweany was strong to start the game. He retired the first eight hitters he faced and struck out the side in the second inning, but a two-run homer in the third got BYU's offense going. Later in the inning, Brian Hsu reached with a walk and would come around to score later in the inning to tie the game at 3-3.
Pacific took the lead right back in the next inning when James Free doubled to get on with an out. He advanced to third on a passed ball then scored to make it 4-3 when sophomore Alex LeForestier hit into a fielder's choice to second. The throw home was wide of the plate to let Free score on the play.
In the top of the fifth inning, senior pitcher Samson Abernathy took over on the mound and got the first two outs of the inning. However, two walks and a single loaded the bases for Mitch McIntyre who hit a high bouncer to second base that wasn't handled properly to let a run score to make it 4-4.
Again, the tie didn't last long. A two-out home run from James Free gave Pacific a 5-4 lead.
BYU would tie the game again in the seventh inning with a home run for Brock Hale.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Tigers scored the potential winning run when singles from Free and Sandri set up sophomore Bryce Kirk who singled to make the score 6-5.
Swanson entered to work the ninth inning in search of save number six on the year. An error at third led off the inning and gave BYU the tying run on. A two-out single and a wild pitch put both runners in scoring position for Valdez, who doubled to score two and give. BYU its first lead, 7-6.
Pacific didn't give up in the ninth. An Arakawa single led off the inning and a free pass for Free, who finished 4-4, and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases which allowed Arakawa to score a game-tying wild pitch to force extra innings.
However, BYU took control with a grand slam in the 10th. Pacific would get runners on first and second with two outs in the 10th inning, but that was as close as the Tigers would get to a comeback.
Pacific can even the series tomorrow with a win in game two over the Cougars in a 6 p.m. game.