CHAMPIONS, Pacific Takes Its First Ever Big West Title: The Tigers rallied to take from four down to defeat Cal Poly
Rallying late in game two, the Pacific softball team secured its first ever Big West championship with a 9-8, eight inning, victory in game two of its doubleheader on Friday, May 13. The victory moved the Tigers to 16-4 in Big West play and 37-16 on the year.
Down to their final out and trailing by one with their Big West title possibly hanging in the balance, the Tigers proved their mettle and proved themselves champions rallying once again to give themselves a chance in extra innings. Coming through in the clutch for the Tigers in the bottom of the seventh inning was freshman Megan Foglesong whose single up the middle plated fellow freshman Taylor Petty from second to knot the game at 8-8. Petty was at second after pinch running for junior Alexa Rivera who began the game-saving rally with a leadoff single up the middle, her third hit of the afternoon.
With the game locked at eight, Rivera was not through with her big finish as she drove in what would be the Tigers' title-winning run on a sacrifice fly in the top of the eighth. Rivera's sacrifice scored junior Nicole Matson from third after the shortstop had led off the extra frame with her second straight single, an infield hit to right side of the infield. Matson was moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Amy Moore and to third on a single by freshman Kelsey Rodriguez.
The Tigers rally in the late innings came after trailing 5-1 just three innings into the game as the Mustangs took advantage of a sluggish start to score two unearned runs in the first while adding two in the second and a fifth in the third. With their backs against the wall early, the Tigers came out swinging in the top of the fourth to tie the game at 5-5 with four runs in the inning. After giving up an out to start the inning, the Tigers put six consecutive runners on base on four hits and two walks to do their damage. Hits by the bottom third of the Tigers' order got the ball rolling as Rivera, senior Lindsey Pierce and sophomore Megan Allen all singled to loaded the bases for the top of the order.
With the bases full of Tigers, sophomore Megan Hom and Foglesong each worked walks to give Pacific its first two runs of the inning. After Hom's walk, Cal Poly made its first pitching change of the afternoon, but to no avail. With the bases still loaded, sophomore Nikki Armagost, laced a single down the left field line to plate two more and tie the game. A great play on a sharp line drive by the Mustangs' first baseman would keep the Tigers from scoring more, but the writing was on the wall setting the stage for Pacific's comeback.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Tigers would give back the lead to the Mustangs as Cal Poly came through with yet another two-out, run-scoring, hit to grab their second lead of the afternoon. Despite the deficit, the Tigers would score single runs in both the fifth and the sixth innings as Pierce picked up an RBI infield single in the fifth while Matson drove home her 49th RBI of the year in the sixth. Pierce's single came after Moore led of the inning with a double while Matson's RBI came after Foglesong led off the inning with a single to center.
With a one run lead in the sixth, Pacific gave up a pair of two-out runs in the bottom of the inning, putting the Tigers behind for the third time in the game, but setting the stage for its comeback. Nicole Lund did the damage in the sixth for the Mustangs, and most of the damage throughout the game, as the right fielder went a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate with four RBI.
Despite the problems and struggles throughout the game, freshman Tori Shepard was at her best when the Tigers needed her most late in the contest. Throwing 170 pitches in eight complete innings, Shepard pitched her way through the heart of the Mustang order in the final inning of play to secure her 14th (14-7) victory of the season. Trusted by the Tigers' coaches to find her way out of trouble throughout the game, Shepard rewarded that trust with a 1-2-3 seventh while giving up a one-out single in the eighth before putting the Mustangs down for good including ending the game with a strike out for good measure. In all, the freshman gave up 11 hits and eight runs, four of which were earned, while striking out five and walking five.
Offensively, the Tigers finished the second game with 17 hits and combined to post 32 hits in its two games played on the day. Rivera and Allen led the way in the game with three hits each while all nine Pacific starters recorded a hit in the game with six of nine recording multiple hits. 2-thru-4 in the Tigers lineup drove in a pair of runs each while Hom led the way with two runs scored. For the day, Pierce and Armagost each recorded five hits to lead the way. Matson led with five RBI while Armagost added four and Hom scored four times to bring her season total to 41, joining Foglesong and Matson in the 40 run club for the year.
The Tigers will look to capture the Big West title outright and their third series sweep of the season on Saturday, May 14, when they take on the Mustangs in game three of the series at Janssen Field. The final game of the 2011 regular season is scheduled for 12:00 pm.