Pacific Baseball: Carnevale Keeps No. 25 Anteaters At Bay As Pacific Wins 7-4
After 5.2 strong innings of scoreless relief from senior RHP Hunter Carnevale (Roseville, Calif.), the Pacific baseball team was able to break through the tie to claim its first victory over No. 25 UC Irvine since 2008, 7-4. Carnevale has now tossed five-straight appearances without allowing an earned run to give him a team-leading 3.11 ERA.
With the win Pacific improved to 21-12 on the year and 4-4 in Big West Conference play, while the Anteaters fell to 20-12 and 5-3 in conference action.
Tied 4-4 heading into the seventh inning, Pacific saw the second relief pitcher out of the bullpen in Evan Brock. Against Brock, senior Matt Fuson (Lodi, Calif.) displayed the patience to draw a full-count walk as the first baserunner aboard. With a runner on, the Tigers sent up senior Ben Gorang (Turlock, Calif.) who executed one of a number of sacrifice bunts and tallied the first out as Fuson moved over to second base. One out later, with two outs on the board, junior Nick Longmire (San Diego, Calif.) drew the second walk of the inning after four-straight pitches. Two runners aboard set the table for sophomore Brett Christopher (Livermore, Calif.) who smashed a double into left center field that cleared the bases and brought home the go-ahead run as both Fuson and Longmire came home to score. Pacific closed out the inning, leading comfortably 6-4.
Carnevale then turned it on over the course of the next three innings, tallying all five of his strikeouts from the seventh on. Despite one single in the seventh from Jeff Cusick, Carnevale retired the next three batters including two strikeouts. In the eighth inning, Carnevale retired the side in order, which included two more strikeouts.
That led the way for the top of the ninth inning when Pacific was able to sneak out an extra insurance run. Gorang started off the inning with his first hit, a double into center field. Senior Joe Oliveira (San Diego, Calif.) laid down yet another sacrifice bunt and moved Gorang only 90 feet from scoring, over at third base. That's when Longmire smashed a single into left field, allowing Gorang to sail home and record the final 7-4 score.
Carnevale ran into a bit of a jam in the bottom of the ninth, with runners at first and second base with no one out, after a failed double play attempt from Gorang and junior J.B. Brown (Alvin, Texas). Facing the next batter, Cusick, Carnevale was saved by his infield as Cusick lined a hard shot directly into the glove of Gorang at shortstop. Gorang then redeemed the earlier failed double play by flipping the ball to Brown at second, completing the double play by tagging out Casey Stevenson for two outs. Carnevale then recorded the fifth strikeout of the game when he fanned Francis Larson to end the game and give the Tigers their first victory over the Anteaters since the 2008 season.
Earlier in the contest, Pacific struck first in the top of the first inning. With one out already into the game, Christopher was hit by a pitch from starter Christian Bergman. However, Christopher was eliminated caught stealing at second base before junior Brian Martin (Livermore, Calif.) doubled into right center field to replace the baserunner with two outs in the inning. In the following plate appearance, senior Mike Walker (Marysville, Calif.) reached on a throwing error by shortstop D.J. Crumlich, while Martin came around to score unearned and give Pacific a 1-0 lead.
The lead was brief however, as UC Irvine responded with two in the bottom of the first off starter LHP David Rowse (Pleasanton, Calif.) to take a 2-1 lead. They plated another run in the bottom of the second and sped out to a 3-1 lead. However, the Tigers would come back and tie the game for the first time in the top of the third inning.
Oliveira kicked off the inning with a double into left field. Longmire swapped places with Oliveira with a double of his own that sent Oliveira home and cut the lead down, 3-2. Christopher tallied his first sacrifice bunt of the game which allowed Longmire to move over to third base with only one out in the third inning. Then Martin laced a 2-0 pitch into left field to easily bring Longmire home and tie the game at 3-3.
UC Irvine was able to jump out ahead in the bottom of the fourth inning to lead 4-3. Rowse then left the contest and gave way for Carnevale, who was able to help save his starter from tallying his first loss of the year. Pacific responded one half inning later, as Oliveira tallied his first homerun of the season in the top of the fifth inning to leave Rowse without a decision and helped Carnevale earn the win.
Carnevale earned the win and improved to 3-3 on the season, while Brock suffered the loss and dropped to 2-2. Offensively, Longmire and Oliveira led the team with two hits and two runs tallied each. Longmire recorded two RBI while Oliveira knocked in one run.
With the win, Pacific tied the total number of victories from the 2009 season when they finished 21-32. The Tigers will now continue on in hopes of recording their best record since their 30-win season in 2006 with just under half of the season still remaining.
The series rubber match is set for Sunday, April 18, for a 1 p.m. first pitch at Anteater Ballpark. The Tigers will be in search of their first series win over UC Irvine since the 2005 season.