Pacific Baseball: Pacific Can't Hold Off Sac State's Ninth-Inning Rally, Falls 5-4
With the loss the Tigers dropped to 10-6 on the year while Sacramento State improved to 6-8 overall.
Rallying behind starting pitcher freshman LHP John Haberman (Stockton, Calif.), who kept Sacramento State scoreless in the first, the Tigers struck first in the top of the second inning and cruised out to a steady lead over the Hornets. Senior Mike Walker (Marysville, Calif.) exploded to open up the inning when he drove a 1-1 pitch over the right-center field wall. Pacific took an early 1-0 lead that proved pivotal as the only run-production of the inning as the Hornets came back and tied the game in the bottom of the frame. Walker's blast is a team-high fourth on the season.
During the bottom half of the second inning, Sacramento State kept Pacific in check off a one-out rally in which shortstop Derrick Chung notched a double into left field. Haberman threw a wild pitch in the following at-bat that put Chung only 90 feet from scoring, as Justin Lamb drove home his runner before getting thrown out at first by shortstop Ben Gorang (Turlock, Calif.). Gorang again displayed impressive glove work after the next batter, Trevor Paine, smoked a line drive that the Tiger shortstop leapt into the air and extended his arm just in time to snag down the ball and end the inning tied 1-1.
Haberman then settled down and retired the Hornets who went scoreless through two more innings. That allowed Pacific to go ahead in the top of the fourth and take the lead once more. Walker proved useful from the plate once more, as he led off the inning by lacing a single through the left side of the field. Junior J.B. Brown (Alvin, Texas) wasted no time bringing his runner home after launching the game's second homer over the right field wall to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead.
Pacific carried its momentum into the top of the fifth when the Tigers put forth a convincing two-out rally. With the first two batters eliminated, junior Brian Martin (Livermore, Calif.) doubled down the left field line as the first runner in scoring position that frame. Walker then drew a full-count walk putting runners on first and second. Brown continued the inning with a single up the middle to load the bases. All it took was a 2-2 pitch to hit junior Matthew Carvutto (Poway, Calif.) on the shoulder and bring in a run, giving the Tigers the early 4-2 lead.
Haberman did his job and gave up only one more run in the bottom of the fifth, still holding on to a 4-3 lead, before handing the game over to senior RHP Casey Neimeyer (Woodland, Calif.). Both bullpens did their jobs through the next two innings with a sort of pitching duel as Pacific and Sacramento State failed to plate any further runs.
But in the bottom of the eighth, it only took one missed pitch to even the score 4-4, as A.J. Nunez launched the first pitch he saw over the left field wall to score himself and Jake Chilton. Junior Robbie Richardson (Lodi, Calif.) then came in to relieve Niemeyer in hopes of Pacific taking the lead in the top of the ninth.
Pacific's rally was not in the cards, however, as the Tigers went down in order against RHP James Chamberlin in the top of the ninth. That gave the Hornets the momentum at their home field in the bottom of the inning, to rally and claim the game.
A lead-off double from Lamb put the first runner aboard in the bottom of the ninth, as Paine followed through with a walk to have runners on first and second. Blake Miller then reached on a fielder's choice for the first out of the inning, with a bunt down the third base line that eliminated Lamb over at third base. Runners were still on first and second when Kyle Baskett drew another walk to load the bases. The burden then rested on Chilton's shoulders as tallied a sacrifice fly in left field and brought home the winning run as Sac State took the final 5-4 lead.
Richardson took the loss for the Tigers falling to 0-1 on the year as Chamberlin earned the win and improved to 2-0 as a reliever.
Pacific next returns to action on Friday, March 19 when they return home to face Pacific-10 opponent USC for a three-game series. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.