Pacific Splits At Cal Poly In First Road Conference Series

#20 Alexi Johnson - Photo by: Anthony Habib
#20 Alexi Johnson - Photo by: Anthony Habib
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San Luis Obispo, Calif. - Playing their first road conference series of the season, the Pacific softball team split its doubleheader with Cal Poly on Saturday, April 6 in gusting winds at Bob Janssen Field. Pacific opened the day with a 7-0 shutout of the Mustangs while Cal Poly responded with a 3-0 shutout of the Tigers in game two. The split moved the Tigers to 6-2 in Big West play and 21-18 overall while the Mustangs moved to 5-3 in conference action and 16-21 on the year.

Game 1
Pacific 7 - Cal Poly 0

Taking advantage of 13 hits and three big scoring innings, the Tigers buried the Mustangs en route to the opening game victory of the series. After just missing runs in the first two innings of play, the Tigers broke open the contest in the top of the third inning as Pacific sent 10 to the plate and scored four runs in the frame.

Kick starting her big day in her first career Big West start, sophomore Alexi Johnson got the Tigers rolling in the third as the second-year second baseman singled down the rightfield line to lead off the inning. After moving to second on a sacrifice, Johnson came around to score the first run of the game on a single by junior Megan Foglesong. Foglesong's single down the leftfield line started a string of scoring for the Tigers as the middle of the order came through for Pacific.

After a single by senior Nikki Armagost put runners at the corners, senior Amy Moore laid down a perfect squeeze bunt in front of the plate to allow Foglesong to score easily from third. With two runs across, Pacific would use three walks, all from the Mustangs' relif core, to score its final two runs of the inning. The relief effort by Cal Poly came in place of starter and reigning pitcher of the week Chloe Wurst who was pulled from the game after just 2.1 innings of work with the second game in mind.

With four runs on the board after three, the Tigers tacked on three more in the fourth and fifth innings as Pacific got an RBI double from Armagost in the fourth to plate one run and another RBI single from the senior in the fifth for one of two runs. Armagost's RBI in the fifth came after back-to-back singles by senior Megan Hom and Foglesong with Hom's driving in senior Megan Allen who led the inning off with a single of her own. 

Pacific would have its chances to end the game early in the fifth and sixth innings, but each time come up just short of plating the eighth and final run it would need to end the game. However, the seven runs that did find the scoreboard were more than enough for junior Tori Shepard (5-4) who started and went all 7.0 innings for the Tigers to earn the shutout. Facing trouble in the first two innings, Shepard pitched her way out of the two created jams to hold the Mustangs in check before dominating the middle innings for the victory. In all, Shepard gave up eight hits, none in the middle three innings, while striking out four and walking one.

Game 2
Cal Poly 3 - Pacific 0

In the complete reversal of game one, the Tigers saw everything that went right early in the day go wrong in the late game as Cal Poly used an assortment of Pacific mistakes to take the game. After playing nearly flawlessly in the field in game one, the Tigers committed three errors in game two with two of the three resulting in free runs for the Mustangs.

In addition to the errors in the field, the Tigers mistakes in the circle would give the Mustangs a third chance to capitalize as a pair of leadoff walks in the second turned into the only earned run of the game against Pacific. Overall, sophomore Dani Bonnet (4-9), the Tigers' starter in the game, gave up just five hits in six complete innings of work, but suffered from poor timing on the hits when Cal Poly used their first three hits to score runs. In the game, Bonnet gave up three runs total, only one earned, while striking out three but walking five.

On the other side of the ball, Pacific struggled to string together hits as it did in game one, picking up five singles over five innings to come up empty on the scoreboard. Pacific's best chance of the game came in the second inning of action when the Tigers put runners at the corners, but were held without a run by Chloe Wurst (9-9). Wurst, in her second start of the day, threw a complete game as the sophomore scattered five hits over seven innings of work while striking out two and walking none. For the Tigers, two of the five hits came from sophomore Alexi Johnson as the second-year walk-on came through in place of Pacific's injured starter.

For the first time in the young Big West season the Tigers will have to rely on the third and final game of their series to capture the season series against its opponent as Pacific and Cal Poly will play the rubber game on Sunday, April 7. The two teams square off at Bob Janssen Field for the final time as conference foes at 12:00 pm.