Pacific Baseball Plays Host To No. 8 Fullerton Friday-Sunday
The Pacific baseball team welcomes No. 8 Cal State Fullerton to Klein Family Field for a three-game Big West series opening Friday at 6 p.m. The series kicks off an eight-game home stand for Pacific.
The Tigers will be looking for their first win over a ranked opponent this season, after opening the year with losses in their first six attempts against Top 25 opposition. Pacific is the last Big West school to win a conference series against the Titans, taking two of three in Fullerton in 2009.
Redshirt freshman 1B Erik Lockwood enters the series red hot at the plate, as he owns a .406 average (43 for 106) in his last 28 games, with hits in 25 of the 28 contests. In that stretch, he has 18 multi-hit games and driven in 20 runs. For the year, Lockwood ranks second in the Big West in batting average at .372, and ranked 82nd in the last NCAA report. He also ranks fifth in the Big West in slugging percentage (.481) with 11 doubles and one home run. His 24 RBI on the season is 11th in the Big West.
Lockwood is trying to bring Pacific it's second-straight individual batting crown, joining 2011 batting champDustin Torchio, who turned in a league-best .369 average last season. Torchio enters the series with a .299 average this season. The Tigers' hitting coach, Don Barbara, won the 1990 BWC batting title with a conference record .474 average for Long Beach State.
Sophomore INF Curtis Gomez filled in at third base for Dustin Torchio in two games of the Cal Poly series and posted a pair of three-hit games. In the two starts at third, Gomez went six-for-eight with a pair of doubles and a home run (his first of the season). He racked up 11 total bases and scored four runs in two games, while handling eight chances at third without an error.
Another hot bat entering the series is senior SS Josh Simms, who is hitting .336 in his last 29 games, while reaching base at a .402 clip. With 10 multi-hit games in that span, he is 37 for his last 110, with eight doubles, a triple and 19 runs scored. Simms racked up a pair of four-hit games (vs Creighton, Mar. 9; and Brown, Mar. 26). He has also walked 12 times and swiped seven bases while reaching base safely in 24 of the 29 games.
In game one against Fullerton (27-14 overall, 9-3 Big West), freshman RHP Michael Benson takes the mound for Pacific (11-31 overall, 1-11 Big West). Benson owns a 3.34 ERA on the year, but a 2-6 overall record. He's fanned 36 batters in 64 innings of work. In his last outing, Benson went 6.2 innings, allowing six earned on seven hits in a loss to Cal Poly last Friday.
Fullerton junior RHP Dylan Floro will start game one for the Titans. In 75 innings, he has a 6-3 record and a 2.28 ERA with 49 strikeouts against seven walks. With Fullerton off last weekend, Floro tossed an inning of relief against USC on Tuesday, allowing one earned on two hits.
On Saturday, game two is scheduled for a 6 p.m. first pitch with junior LHP Travis Lumby getting the start for the Tigers. On the year, Lumby is 1-3 with a 7.65 ERA. He has made five starts with four appearances out of the Tigers' bullpen. On Sunday, Lumby tossed one-third of an inning, without allowing a hit.
The Titans will send freshman LHP Kenny Mathews to the hill in game two. Mathews has a 4-0 record and a 3.77 ERA on the year. He's struck out 50 in 57.1 innings pitched against 12 walks. His last start came against Cal Poly on April 21, when he allowed six earned in five innings on nine hits.
In Sunday's 1 p.m. game three, Pacific freshman RHP Michael Hager gets the starting assignment. Hager is 3-4 with a 4.47 ERA in 61.2 innings of work. He's struck out 24 on the season against just nine walks. Last Sunday, Hager was saddled with the loss, allowing five earned on nine hits in a 6-4 decision to Cal Poly.
The Titans counter with RHP Graham Weist. In 50.2 innings, the redshirt freshman has a 3-3 record with a 3.02 ERA. He's struck out 32 batters against 10 walks this season. In his last outing, Weist threw one inning of shutout relief against USC on Tuesday, striking out two and allowing one hit.
Following the series with the Titans, Pacific will play host San Francisco (May 8), UC Riverside (May 11-13) and Santa Clara (May 15) as part of an eight-game home stand.