Pacific Baseball Hands No. 13 Titans Third Conference Loss, 18-10
The Pacific baseball team handed No. 13 Cal State Fullerton its biggest loss of the year and snapped the Titans' nine-game winning streak with an 18-10 pounding to salvage the final game of the series on Sunday, May 2. The 18 runs allowed by the Titans marks a season-high for an opponent in 2010.
With the upset victory Pacific improved to 26-16 overall and 8-7 in the Big West Conference, while the Titans dropped to 27-14 and 12-3.
Starting pitcher, junior RHP Jake Hummel (Peoria, Ariz.) allowed one quick run to the Titans in the top of the first inning before Pacific was able to respond back in the bottom half of the frame. For the first time all series the Tigers took a sizeable 5-1 lead in the bottom half of the first inning.
Sophomore Brett Christopher (Livermore, Calif.) opened the frame with a single up the middle after head coach Ed Sprague retooled his starting line-up for the series finale. With a runner at first, starting pitcher Kevin Rath dished out a five-pitch walk to sophomore Allen Riley (Fresno, Calif.) and put runners at first and second with no one out. Rath served up another walk to follow Riley's, as junior Brian Martin (Livermore, Calif.) next took his free trip to first base to load the bases. Pacific only needed a ball in play to score and senior Mike Walker (Marysville, Calif.) delivered, grounding out to first base but advanced every other runner up 90 feet, including scoring Christopher to knot the contest up 1-1.
Junior J.B. Brown (Alvin, Texas), who had a powerful 4-for-4 showing at the plate led off his offensive display with the game's first go-ahead run after he dingled into right field and brought home Riley to give Pacific a 2-1 lead. Senior Joe Oliveira (San Diego, Calif.) kept the inning going when he launched his 10th career triple down the right field line and brought home both baserunners, Brown and Martin as Pacific jumped out to a 4-1 lead. Another ground out was able to score Pacific's fifth run in the frame when junior Nick Longmire (San Diego, Calif.) grounded out to first base and brought Oliveira home from third to lead 5-1. Pacific's damaging frame ended there, however, as Cal State Fullerton attempted to come back in the next inning.
With a lead for the first time in the series, Hummel came to the mound in the top of the second and suffered a slight set-back when he allowed three runs before he ended the inning with a strikeout of right fielder Tyler Pill to ensure that the Titans would not come back and even the score. Instead, Cal State Fullerton trailed 5-4.
The Tigers came out firing again in the bottom half of the second inning, when Christopher smashed his fifth homerun this season, over the right center field wall and gave Pacific some more breathing room, 6-4.
Hummel did his part to preserve the narrow two-run lead in the top of the third frame, retiring the side in order to give way to another hugely offensive inning for Pacific.
In the bottom of the third against reliever Kyle Mertins, Longmire led off the inning when he watched a 3-1 pitch become the fourth ball of the plate appearance and became the first baserunner in the inning. With a runner at first, senior Ben Gorang (Turlock, Calif.) attempted to lay a sacrifice bunt down the first base line, but first baseman Nick Ramirez could not come up with the ball to put Gorang aboard with an error in the Titans' half of the scoreboard. All the while, Longmire advanced into scoring position on the play. Now with two runners aboard, the Tigers sought to attempt the same play again as the exact same result occurred. Senior Matt Fuson (Lodi, Calif.) next attempted another sac bunt, dropping one perfectly down the third base line. However, Richie Pedroza was bit next by the error bug as he couldn't come up with the ball either to load the bases. The table was set then for Christopher, who walked up and tallied a sacrifice fly into right field to bring home Longmire and give Pacific a 7-4 lead. Merkins then loaded the bases once more when he offered a full-count walk to Riley for the second free pass of the inning. The errors and extra baserunners came back to haunt Cal State Fullerton after Merkins served up a single for Martin, who knocked the ball into right field and brought home Gorang to give Pacific an 8-4 lead.
The bases were still loaded for Walker, who reached on a fielder's choice at shortstop to score Fuson and eliminate Martin at second base. Along the way though, Pacific sped out to a 9-4 lead. With a runner still in scoring position, Brown was hit by only the second pitch of his plate appearance and Merkins loaded the bases yet again in the frame with two outs. It was up to Oliveira to continue the inning and he delivered to keep Pacific's rally alive with a single back to the pitcher to score Riley from third and give Pacific a 10-4 lead after just the third inning.
Cal State Fullerton had a lot of catching up to do, but went scoreless once more in the top of the fourth. To the Titans' delight, Pacific also went scoreless in the bottom half of the frame and gave an opportunity for the Titans to creep back into the game. Cal State Fullerton had its chances with two Tiger errors, but only could plate two runs in the top of the fifth and the Tigers continued to lead 10-6.
But another four-run inning proved to be the difference-maker in Pacific's attempt to avoid the sweep after the Tigers scored the eventual go-ahead run in the game in the bottom of the fifth.
With one out in the frame, Walker smashed the Tigers' second homerun of the contest this one right past the center field wall to give Pacific the 11-6 advantage. That would be it for Merkins, as the Titans went to their bullpen for the third time and came out with David Hurlbut. Hurlbut opened the inning by hitting Brown with a pitch for the second time on the day and put a runner at first with one out in the inning. Behind Brown, Oliveira looked to give Pacific another chance to come up with more runs, but a fielder's choice eliminated Brown at second base and put up two outs in the inning. Down to only one out, Longmire produced a single to shortstop and moved Oliveira over to second base and in scoring position. And for the second time in the inning, or the third time in the game, senior Ben Gorang (Turlock, Calif.) was the next hitter to go yard. Gorang smashed a three-run shot over the left field wall for his first homerun of the season and gave the Tigers a 14-6 lead.
Trailing by their largest margin yet, the Titans came back for three runs to try and take control of the game but closed out the top of the sixth still trailing, 14-9. In its last scoring attempt of the contest, Cal State Fullerton answered back with a lone run in the top of the seventh, but still trailed 14-10.
The Tigers had no choice but to widen the gap at that point. The bottom of the seventh resulted with three more runs in Pacific's column and put the Tigers up 17-10. And Brown tallied his fourth hit of the game and the Tigers' fourth homerun of the contest for a solo shot in the bottom of the eighth to give Pacific its final 18-10 victory.
Hummel emerged with his sixth win of the season and improved to 6-2, while Rath suffered the loss and fell to 2-2. Closing out the contest by tossing in the last 3.1 inning of the game, junior Robbie Richardson (Lodi, Calif.) earned his third save of the season. Offensively, Brown paced Pacific at the plate going a perfect 4-for-4 with three runs and two RBI after two doubles and a homerun.
Pacific next returns to action on Friday, May 7 for a 2:30 p.m. first pitch at UC Davis.