Pacific Baseball Secures Series Victory Over USC Before Record Crowd
After the win, Pacific improved to 12-6 on the year while USC dropped to 9-10 overall.
"I think that when when I took this job, this was the kind of night that I envisioned," head coach Ed Sprague said. "We are playing a good opponent and are playing well. David Rowse did a fantastic job getting out of a jam [in the seventh inning] and Hunter Carnevale had two great innings. The hits from John Haberman were excellent and it was a great play to end the game."
Heading into the seventh, both teams were neck-and-neck with the score knotted at 4-4. With Rowse having thrown over 100 pitches in the inning, a double from Ricky Oropesa put Rowse into a jam with runners on second and third. But the southpaw responded with grace under pressure, inducing a pop out to second base. Rowse was saved by his defense in the following at-bat, as Matt Hart smoked a liner right into junior Brian Martin's (Livermore, Calif.) glove for the second out of the inning. Rowse responded then by bringing Cade Kreuter quickly to two strikes in the pitch count, before hitting the designated hitter to load the bases. Enticed by the chance to become the pitcher of record, Rowse shut down the Trojans by inducing a ground out to shortstop to close out the inning.
Sparked by the stamina from their starting pitcher, the Tigers rallied behind Rowse in the bottom of the seventh. Martin ignited the offense with a quick single through the left side. Senior Mike Walker (Marysville, Calif.) kept the Tigers' hopes alive when he doubled down the left field line after a 1-2 count, moving Martin over to third base. Rowse's decision then rested on the shoulders of senior Matt Fuson (Lodi, Calif.). Fuson lifted an 0-1 pitch into shallow right field for the out, but Martin gambled and opted to turn the flyout into a sacrifice fly and slid into the plate to narrowly beat out the throw from right fielder Garrett Houts. Fuson's sacrifice fly momentarily gave Pacific a 5-4 lead. With two outs recorded in the inning, Haberman continued his torrid hitting and boosted his batting average to .533 on the year. The freshman laced a single through the right side and brought Walker home from second for Pacific's sixth and final run, as the Tigers led 6-4 heading into the top of the eighth.
In the top of the eighth Carnevale came in to relieve Rowse and retired the Trojans in order. Up 6-4 in the top of the ninth, Carenvale struck out Houts on five pitches. Only two outs away from clinching the series, Oropesa came in and tried to give the Trojans life late in the game by homering to right field and making it a 6-5 game. Looming in the frame, Matt Foat grounded out to shortstop to record the second out of the inning. Then Keith Castillo came in as a pinch hitter to be Carnevale's fourth batter of the inning. Carnevale quickly brought the count in his favor, but ultimately Castillo drew a walk down to first. Upon reaching base, he was lifted for a pinch runner, Alex Glenn. The Trojans opted to remove the bat out of the hands of their best hitter in the game, Kretuer who went 3-for-3 and was hit by a pitch, using Richard Stock as a pinch hitter with two outs and a runner at first. But Stock only would see one pitch, before Oliveira gunned down Glenn at second to deny the stolen base and end the inning in victory.
Pacific jumped on the board first in the game off the first pitch dished out to junior Nick Longmire (San Diego, Calif.). Wasting no time, the junior got back into his usual hitting groove by driving a shot out of right center field. Two outs later, Walker followed suit as he, too smashed a towering homerun over the right field wall. That gave the Tigers an early 2-0 lead at the bottom of the first inning.
USC answered back with two runs of their own in the top of the third after both went scoreless in the second. The Trojans then broke free from the tie, 3-2, after plating a run in the top of the fourth. During Pacific's half of the inning, the Tigers reeled USC back to another tie. After one out had been recorded, Fuson worked a four-pitch walk to signify the tying run. Haberman came up big for the Tigers for the first time of the game, doubling down the left field line and driving in Fuson to tie the game 3-3. It was the same story again in the sixth inning, when the Trojans jumped out to a 4-3 lead in the top of the inning, before Pacific answered back with the 4-4 tying run in the frame's bottom half.
Rowse earned the win for the Tigers and improved to 4-0 on the year, as Carnevale closed out the game for his first save of 2010. Chad Smith suffered the loss for USC and fell to 0-3 this season. Offensively Haberman led the way for the Tigers, driving in the winning run after going 3-for-3 at the plate. Longmire also tallied three hits and finished 3-for-4 with a homerun.
The crowd of 1,334 people broke Pacific's previous record of 964 during the first annual United Way Community Day on March 28, 2009. Pacific baseball and United Way teamed to admit underprivileged children and community volunteers free of charge. This was accomplished thanks to the generosity of several Pacific baseball supporters at the Tigers' Community Night during the preseason when over 600 tickets were purchased to make this evening happen.
During the game, United Way also barbecued and members from local charities were in attendance with giveaways and educational items for kids and fans.
Pacific next returns to action for the final game of the series, with a 1 p.m. start on Sunday, March 21.