Pacific Softball: Late Rallies Abound As Tigers Settle For Split With Titans
Leading late in game two after rallying for a game one victory, the Pacific softball team suffered a final inning collapse against the visiting Titans of Cal State Fullerton, allowing for an extra inning game to be stolen away for a split of the opening double header between the two teams on Saturday, May 1. Pacific took game one 8-6 before falling 4-3 in 10 innings in game two to move to 20-27 overall and 6-8 in Big West play while the Titans improved to 11-35 on the year and 6-8 in conference play.
In what turned into a slug fest, the Tigers used seven late runs to overcome a five run deficit to capture the opening game of the three game series. Against the hot hitting Titans, Pacific fell behind immediately as Cal State Fullerton posted their first crooked number of the afternoon on the scoreboard with a two run first inning. The damage for the Titans came on a two-run, two-out opposite field home run by Nicole Johnson who made junior Shaina Brock (Derby, Kan.) pay for issuing a walk earlier in the inning.
Down two, the Tigers made their first noise of the game in the bottom of the second inning when their slugging freshman shortstop Megan Allen (Yucaipa, Calif) did what she has done best all season long, blasting an opposite field home run of her own to cut the Titan lead in half.
Despite getting their first run of the game, the Tigers slipped further behind Cal State Fullerton two innings later when Brock relinquished four runs in the top half of the fourth inning with two coming on a home run off the bat of Torrie Anderson. Struggling in the circle, Brock was replaced by senior Kellee Wilson (Tracy, Calif.) who entered the game for just her second career appearance. With a runner on first, Wilson threw just one pitch before inducing an inning ending double play to get the Tigers out of the jam.
After squandering a bases loaded scoring chance in the bottom half of the inning, the Tigers finally broke through in bottom of the fifth inning, stringing together six straight hits to score five runs and knot the game at six runs a piece. Besides five singles in the inning, junior Lindsey Pierce (Camarillo, Calif.) posted a lead off triple in the inning to get the rally started while Wilson helped her team and herself out with a three-run bomb to left field that capped the scoring in the inning for Pacific. The home run was her sixth of the year and would be her only hit of the afternoon.
An inning later, the Tigers put the finishing touches to their come back with two unearned runs in the sixth, scoring a two-out, two-run single down the left field line from sophomore Alexa Rivera (Sacramento, Calif.) to take their first lead of the game. In the seventh, Wilson put the Titans down quietly to record her first collegiate victory after throwing 3.2 innings of scoreless relief while giving up just two hits.
With game one under their belts, the Tigers emerged in game two with a chance to put the series away on the first day of play. However, two mistakes in the circle late and a collapse at the plate allowed the Titans to steal the game and what would have been the series victory away from the Tigers.
Pacific got on the board first against Cal State Fullerton in the second game of the day, scoring a single run in the second inning on an RBI double to right-center by freshman Amy Moore (Valencia, Calif.). Moore's double plated Wilson who had reached on a walk to start the inning and worked her way into scoring position on a sacrifice and a stolen base, her first second of the year.
Up one, freshman Nikki Armagost (Andover, Kan.), the Tigers' starting pitcher, gave up her first home run of the game in the top of the fifth inning to Anderson to put the game back to even at 1-1. Anderson's home run went just over the foul pole in left field and came after Armagost had retired the first two batters in the inning. Anderson finished the day with just two hits, both of which were home runs.
Back to square one, the Tigers used the long ball again to jump back ahead of the Titans in the bottom of the seventh when Allen unleashed her second big fly of the afternoon, a two-run shot to dead center that put the Tigers in front 3-1. The home run was her ninth of the season.
With just three outs to get to pick up the victory, Armagost made another mistake in the circle in the top of the seventh, issuing a one out walk before giving up a pinch-hit home run to Morgan LeMond. The home run was the first of the season for LaMond and gave new life to the Titans. However, the Tigers would have a chance to snuff out that new life immediately in the bottom of the seventh as they loaded the bases with no outs in the inning. Senior Brittany Hendrickson (San Jose, Calif.) started the inning off with an infield single which was followed by an error and a walk to set up the inning. Despite the golden chance, the Tigers squandered their second bases loaded opportunity of the afternoon by hitting into a double play before ending the inning with a ground ball.
The melt down at the plate eventually came back to haunt the Tigers and Armagost as the Titans pushed across what would be the game-winning run in the top of the 10th inning on a weak chopper by Ariel Tsuchiyama that bounced just over senior Karie Wilson's (Glendale, Ariz.) outstretched arm and into right field for the single and the RBI.
Suffering yet another extremely tough loss, Armagost fell to 10-10 on the year after giving up eight hits and four runs in 10 innings in the circle. The loss was her sixth straight defeat and was her fourth extra inning and fourth one run loss during that stretch. Ari Cervantes picked up the win for the Titans to move to 5-18 on the year as she gave up eight hits and three runs in 10 innings pitched after throwing two innings in game one.
Freshman Megan Hom (Irvine, Calif.) finished the day 3-for-4 with a walk and three sacrifices. Rivera, Allen and Armagost each added three hits as well while Tsuchiyama and Adriana Martinez each finished the afternoon with three hits for the Titans.
With one more home run, Allen will become the first freshman since all-time home run leader Jennifer Cutier (2004-07) to hit double-digit home runs in her first collegiate season. Curtier hit 11 home runs as a freshman and finished her career with 42.
The two teams will settle the series on Sunday, May 2, with a rubber game at Bill Simoni Field. Game time is set for 12:00 pm.