Pacific Baseball: Bats Awaken Late As Pacific Takes First-Place Finish Over Host Notre Dame, 3-2
With the first-place finish, the Tigers became the first team in the Big West Conference to compile 10 wins on the year as they are now 10-5 in 2010. Notre Dame fell to 7-8 this season and finished second in their tournament.
With the exception of a two-run hiccup in the first inning, junior RHP Jake Hummel (Peoria, Ariz.) excelled on the mound to earn his second win in only his second appearance as a starter and improved to 2-0 on the year. Junior RHP Robbie Richardson (Lodi, Calif.) picked up his first save this season after allowing only one hit in the bottom of the scoreless ninth inning. Reliever Joe Spano took the loss for Notre Dame and fell to 0-1 on the year.
To start out the only run-scoring inning for the Irish, Hummel walked the right fielder David Mills. Hummel then induced a fielder's choice as Alex Robinson hit the ball to second baseman J.B. Brown (Alvin, Texas). Brown opted to eliminate the lead runner at second while allowing Robinson to safely arrive on first base. However, an error charged on the play kept Mills at second. Two runners aboard gave Ryan Connolly a chance to record a sacrifice bunt as he laid it down the third base line for the first out of the inning, but allowed Mills and Robinson to each move up one base. A quick single from David Casey past Brown at second was all the damage needed to score the only two Irish runs of the game. Once two more outs were recorded, Notre Dame led 2-0 at the end of the first inning.
Unwilling to tolerate any more runs, Hummel settled down through the next four innings and relinquished five more hits, all the while keeping the Irish away from home plate. Trailing 2-0 in the top of the fifth, Pacific's bats started to awaken after recording four hits with nothing to show for it through the first four innings. Senior Ben Gorang (Turlock, Calif.) led off the fifth and was hit by a 1-1 pitch to put the first runner of the inning aboard. Senior Joe Oliveira (San Diego, Calif.) made quick use of his runner and lifted his fourth double of 2010 into right center to move Gorang all the way over to third base. One out later junior Brian Martin (Livermore, Calif.) grounded out to second base, but hit the ball so that Gorang would score from third. Pacific closed out the top of the fifth trailing by half of Notre Dame's score, 2-1.
Following up the momentum on offense, Hummel came back to the mound and struck out two in the bottom of the fifth. He kept the Irish scoreless once more as Pacific rallied in the top of the sixth inning to tie the contest.
Brown ripped open the sixth inning when he drove the first pitch he saw into left field. Junior Matthew Carvutto (Poway, Calif.) followed suit as he, too, singled to to opposite field and moved Brown 90 feet from home plate. Freshman John Haberman (Stockton, Calif.) caught the bug in the following at-bat, as he also drove the first pitch he saw into center field to tie the game as Brown crossed home plate, 2-2.
Hummel then gave his all through the next three innings, allowing only one more hit before handing over the tied ball game to his reliever, Richardson. But Pacific's bats had a chance to make a closing statement in the top of the ninth with two outs in the inning and Oliveira standing on first after a four-pitch walk landed him there. During Martin's at-bat, Oliveira saw an opportunity to garner his first stolen base with Spano on the hill as her moved into scoring position. As in the fifth inning, Martin's heroics shone through once more when he looped a single up the middle that had the distance to bring Oliveira home for the winning run. The Tigers headed back to the dugout with bragging rights to a 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the ninth.
Richardson then had his chance to silence the Irish in the final frame of the contest. All it took was 16 pitches for the righty to preserve Hummel's victory and secure Pacific's first-place finish in the 2010 Irish Baseball Classic.
Pacific continues its road swing only 50 miles up the road to Sacramento State for a 2 p.m. first pitch on Tuesday, March 16.