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Pacific Baseball Opens Big West Play at No. 5 Fullerton

Mar 27, 2013

The Pacific baseball team opens Big West play with a three-game series at No. 5 Cal State Fullerton 6 p.m. Thursday.

Pacific (7-12) looks for another win over a top five team in the polls after knocking off No. 2 Arkansas on March 3. Erik Lockwood <http://pacific.prestosports.com/sports/m-basebl/2012-13/bios/lockwood%20erik%205121> 's walk-off single capped a three-run rally in the bottom of the ninth to beat Razorbacks in Surprise, Arizona. It was Pacific's highest-rated opponent defeated since a 4-3 win over No. 5 Cal State Fullerton on April 3, 1999 and the Tigers' first win over a ranked team since April 30, 2011 against Fullerton.

The Titans enter at 21-4 on the season after their 10-game win streak was snapped Tuesday by Loyola Marymount, who won 3-2 at Goodwin Field.

Fullerton has lost just one home Big West series since Pacific took two-of-three at Fullerton in a three-game set in 2009 (UC Riverside took two of three last season).

Pacific returns to the diamond after eight days off, following an 11-4 win over Fresno State on Tuesday, March 19.

The Tigers slugged their way to a season-high 11 runs. Four Tigers tallied multi-hit games and the Tigers clubbed two doubles, a triple and a home run in the contest.

Taylor Murphy <http://pacific.prestosports.com/sports/m-basebl/2012-13/bios/murphy%20taylor%201bzx>  is hitting .421 in his last eight games (8-for-19) with three runs scored and five runs batted in. He also walked twice for a .471 on-base percentage. Against Fresno State, Murphy was one-for-three, but the one hit was a big one: a two-run home run as he drove in three in the ballgame.

Pacific will send sophomore RHP Michael Benson <http://pacific.prestosports.com/sports/m-basebl/2012-13/bios/benson%20michael%20klmj>  to the mound in game one. Benson is 2-1 on the year with a 2.17 ERA in 37.1 innings. In his last outing, he tossed seven innings and allowed three earned runs in a loss at Creighton on St. Patrick's Day. Fullerton counters with freshman RHP Thomas Eschelman, who is 5-1 with a 1.07 ERA. Eschelman allowed one hit in seven innings on Friday against Long Beach State (a non-conference series) to earn the win. He hasn't walked a batter this season.

On Saturday, game two starts at 7 p.m. with junior RHP getting the call as the starting pitcher for Pacific. Popham has a 2.18 ERA and a 2-0 record. In 33 innings he's fanned 11 batters. He allowed one earned run in a five-inning stint at Creighton on March 16 in his last appearance. Fullerton gives the ball to freshman RHP Justin Garza, who is 5-0 on the year with a 1.99 ERA. In 40.2 innings he's struck out 36 against six walks. He took a no decision in his last outing, a 4.1 inning affair in which he allowed five earned runs on seven hits against Long Beach State on March 23.

Game three will begin Sunday at 2 p.m, with Pacific RHP Mike Hager throwing opposite Fullerton RHP Grahamm Wiest, both sophomore right-handers. Hager is 0-2 on the season with a 5.64 ERA. In 22.1 innings, he's struck out 11 against eight walks. He started last Tuesday's game against Fresno State, tossing four innings and allowing three runs on six hits in a no decision. Wiest is 4-1 with a 3.29 ERA on the season. He's struck out 14 while walking four in 38.1 innings. He allowed one run on seven hits in eight innings against Long Beach State on Sunday, while striking out nine.

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