Pacific Baseball: Tigers Drop Series With 11-7 Loss To No. 13 Cal State Fullerton
Despite all efforts, the Pacific baseball team tried to play catch-up after No. 13 Cal State Fullerton plated two early runs in the top of the second inning, but the Tigers were never able to take the lead and fell 11-7 to the Titans on Saturday, May 1.
With the loss, Pacific dropped to 25-16 and 7-7 in the Big West Conference while the Titans improved to 27-13 and 12-2 in conference play.
Although he only saw one hitter over the minimum in the top of the first inning, senior RHP David Rowse (Pleasanton, Calif.) relinquished what would prove to be the only lead Cal State Fullerton needed to hold on for the series victory after just the second frame. Rowse worked through the top of the first quickly and then gave up two runs in the second to put the Titans up 2-0. Rowse put on the breaks there, however, and stranded a runner to end the top half of the frame.
Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the second, senior Joe Oliveira (San Deigo, Calif.) cut the lead down to one with a one-out towering home run over the left field wall. Freshman John Haberman (Stockton, Calif.) was the next batter to the plate and he drew his first walk of the day to represent the tying run at first base with Pacific trailing 2-1. He would not make it past there, however, as senior Ben Gorang (Turlock, Calif.) swapped places after a fielders choice to shortstop eliminated Haberman at second. With two outs now in the inning senior Matt Fuson (Lodi, Calif.) was hit in the leg by a pitch from starter Daniel Renken to move Gorang into scoring position at second base. But Renken was able to get out of the jam and strand two runners on base to keep Pacific trailing by one.
Both teams went quietly in the third inning, as Rowse powered through three batters to retire the side in order. But the Titans came back firing in the next inning, cruising out to a 6-1 lead after four hits to score for more runs in the top of the fourth inning.
As they had done earlier, the Tigers had a rebuttal in the bottom of the inning when Oliveira took a free pass to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning. Renken issued another free pass to Haberman to put runners at first and second. In the ensuing play, Gorang attempted a sacrifice bunt that was mishandled on the third base line and he reached first on a fielding error by third baseman Richie Pedroza, which also allowed Oliveira to score and narrow the deficit, 6-2. Then junior Nick Longmire (San Diego, Calif.) smacked a double into left center field to put the Tigers back within two runs, trailing 6-4 after both Haberman and Gorang scored.
Trying to maintain a cushion of a lead, the Titans responded with another run in the top of the fifth inning. That was all Cal State Fullerton would see from Rowse, as Pacific went to the bullpen and brought out senior RHP Hunter Carnevale (Roseville, Calif.). Carnevale retired the first batter he saw, but gave up a single up the middle to give the Titans an 8-4 lead, before ending the inning.
Trailing by half of Cal State Fullerton's score, 8-4 in the bottom of the fifth inning, junior J.B. Brown (Alvin, Texas) took a five-pitch walk with one out on the board. Oliveira immediately took advantage of his runner and moved Brown into scoring position with a double into left field. On the basepaths, Renken suffered a failed pickoff attempt of Oliveira at second base after he launched the ball into center field. The error moved Oliveira up a base to third and brought Brown home to put Pacific within three runs, 8-5. With no one out, Haberman grounded out to second base, but during the play, Oliveira came home to score and bring Pacific within two of the Titans when Pacific trailed 8-6.
Entering the top half of the sixth Carnevale got into a jam with one out and runners at the corners, but he made it through his 26th-consecutive inning without an earned run after his defense turned an inning-ending double play behind him.
That gave way for the bottom half of the inning when Fuson drew a lead-off walk off the Titans' reliever Colin O'Connell. One out later, Fuson moved into scoring position with a passed ball during sophomore Brett Christopher's (Livermore, Calif.) plate appearance. Christopher reached on an infield single to shortstop Christina Colon and moved Fuson to third base. Both runners moved into scoring position before the next batter even got a chance to swin, as a balk from O'Connell put Christopher on second base and brought Fuson to home to score and make it an 8-7 game in favor of the Titans. With the tying run on base and in scoring position, Pacific could not find a way to bring Christopher home and ended the inning trailing by one.
Pacific went scoreless for the remainder of the game, after Derrick Dingeman came in relief in the seventh for Cal State Fullerton and kept Pacific's bats quiet. The Titans were able to come back and plate their final three runs in the top of the eighth inning before Pacific went to its bullpen to relieve Carneval with LHP Jamie Niley (Elk Grove, Calif.). Niley only needed one pitch to end the frame before handing the ball to sophomore RHP Thomas Berolzheimer (Stockton, Calif.) in the top of the ninth. Berolzheimer did his part to keep Cal State Fullerton from scoring, but Pacific's offense could not overcome the earlier lead and fell 11-7.
Rowse suffered the loss in the contest and dropped to 7-1 on the season, while Renken improved to 7-2 with the win.
The final game of the series kicks off Sunday, May 2 with a 1 p.m. first pitch against the Titans.