Pacific Squeezed at Long Beach, 5-4
Pacific rallied back with two runs in the eighth, but couldn't put the tying run across in the ninth, falling at Long Beach 5-4 Friday night at Blair Field. The Tigers rapped six hits in the final two innings, but stranded the tying and go-ahead runs on base.
Senior LF Brett Christopher posted his fifth-straight multi-hit game with a two-for-five night, while senior RFAllen Riley delivered a pair of RBI singles to finish two-for-four. Junior 2B Tyger Pederson went one-for-three with a run scored and an RBI.
Long Beach State got on the board in the first inning as LF Johnny Bekakis doubled and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt. After freshman RHP Michael Benson got a comebacker for the second out, he appeared to have CF Brennan Metzger struck out and was walking toward the dugout when the 1-2 pitch was ruled ball two. Metzger singled in a run with a soft floater over second base, and RF Josh Guerra followed with a single to left to make it 2-0 Long Beach.
Pacific answered in the third, as LBSU starter Matt Anderson walked freshman DH Taylor Murphy and freshman CF Tyler Sullivan to open the inning. Senior 3B Garrett Borba laid down a sacrifice bunt, and reached safely when Anderson couldn't make the play. With the bases loaded and one out, senior SS Josh Simms smash to third was turned into an out at second base, but Murphy scored on the RBI fielder's choice to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Anderson departed after three innings, allowing an unearned run on one hit, walking three and striking out one.
Benson held Long Beach in check until the fifth, when he hit the leadoff man, C Kellen Hoime. Hoime advanced to second on a passed ball and third on a sacrifice bunt before SS Matt Duffy's sacrifice fly stretched the LBSU lead to 3-1.
The Tigers broke through in the sixth, as Pederson walked with two out, and took second on a ball in the dirt that Hoime kept in front of him. That aggressive base-running allowed Pederson to score from second on Riley's single to right, but Riley was thrown out by Hoime as he tried to take second on the throw, ending the inning.
Long Beach got the run back in the sixth, as 3B Juan Avila singled to open the inning and stole second base. After taking third on a groundout, the Tigers brought the infield in. But a chopper off the bat of Guerra couldn't be handled, allowing the run to score. 2B Jeff McNeil singled to make the earned before Benson got out of the inning.
The 49ers tacked on a run in the seventh, as Bekakis singled to left, and 1B Ino Patron walked with one out. After Benson struck out Avila, Metzger hit a chopper over third to plate a run for a 5-2 lead. Benson coaxed a pop-up to end the inning.
Pacific's bats woke up in the eighth, as Simms singled through the left side with one out and RHP Eddie Magallon replaced Anderson. Redshirt freshman 1B Erik Lockwood singled up the middle, and with two outs, Pederson ripped a single to left to cut the gap to 5-3. Riley smoked a line drive over third base, off the tip of Avila's glove as Lockwood trotted home.
Long Beach summoned its closer, RHP Kyle Friedrichs, who's 0-1 pitch to freshman DH Taylor Murphy was called strike two, drawing the ire of the Tigers faithful in attendance. Friedrichs came back with a swinging strike to end the inning.
LHP Travis Lumby posted a 1-2-3 eighth to keep the Tigers within one.
With one out in the ninth, sophomore PH Curtis Gomez laced a single to left center, and Christopher followed with a single to left to set up first and second. Gomez advanced to third on a flyout to right by Simms. But Friedrichs received three called strikes to end the ballgame, the last two coming on inside pitches to the dismay of Lockwood, as Friedrichs recorded his ninth save.
Benson allowed four earned on nine hits in his seven innings of work, falling to 2-9 on the year despite his 3.40 ERA.
Johnson improved to 2-4 on the season, tossing 4.1 innings of relief with two earned runs allowed on two hits.
Long Beach State (26-24 overall) remains alive in the Big West race, as they sit two games back of Fullerton at 13-6 in conference. Pacific falls to 12-39 on the year, 2-17 in the Big West.
Game two is set for 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Blair Field.