UC Irvine Takes Game One Over Pacific

UC Irvine Takes Game One Over Pacific

Stockton, Calif. -  Erik Lockwood posted three hits and the Pacific baseball team erased a 3-0 deficit, but UC Irvine's Taylor Sparks hit a two-run walk-off homer in the ninth to take the Big West opener, 5-4.

Lockwood, the redshirt freshman first baseman, ran his hit streak to 12 games, the longest by a Tiger this season, but UC Irvine's two-run bottom of the ninth snapped a four-game Pacific win streak.

Down 3-0 after three, Pacific tied the game in the fourth as sophomore C Riley Drongesen doubled home junior 3B Dustin Torchio to get the Tigers on the board. Drongesen took third on the throw to the plate, allowing him to trot home on a ground ball to second by senior RF Allen Riley. Riley reached when the grounder couldn't be fielded cleanly and after advancing to second on a groundout, came home on an RBI single to center by Lockwood.

The Tigers chased UC Irvine starter RHP Andrew Thurman after four and a third, but RHP Nick Hoover entered in the fifth and left a pair of Tigers stranded. He tossed three innings, allowing one earned run.

The Tigers took the lead in the sixth, as freshman LF Taylor Murphy reached on error and went to third on a single by Lockwood. Senior SS Garrett Borba bounced into a double play, but with no body out, Murphy came in to score the go-ahead run.

Freshman RHP Michael Benson pitched into the eighth, as the reigning Big West Pitcher of the Week tied his career-best with six strikeouts.

In the eighth, he departed with two runners on base, and senior RHP John Prato Matthews picked him up with a pair of fly outs sandwiched around a walk to strand a parade of Anteaters.

In the bottom of the ninth, UC Irvine put a runner on with a bloop single by Christian Ramirez to lead off the inning. After a sacrifice bunt, Prato Matthews got a soft liner to Lockwood at first for the second out, but Sparks curled the first pitch he saw off the foul pole in left for the walk-off, his third home run of the season.

Torchio and Drongesen each posted two hits in the ballgame.

Prato Matthews, who had turned in shutout stints in seven of his last eight appearances, falls to 1-4. Pacific drops to 0-1 in the Big West, 8-17 overall.

LHP Jimmy Litchfield (2-1) picked up the win with one and two-third innings of shutout ball. He didn't allow a hit and struck out two.

The Tigers will look to rebound in game two, with a 1 p.m. first pitch on Saturday at Anteater Ballpark.