Los Angeles, Calif. - Behind the reemergence of their ace Jake Jenkins, the Tigers took the opening game of their three-game set at Loyola Marymount, 4-3, on Friday, April 17. The win for Pacific (9-27, 6-10 WCC) was its first win to open a conference series while the Lions (22-16, 9-7 WCC) fell for the third time in their last four conference contests.
Looking like the old Jenkins that dominated the WCC just a year ago, the junior righty came up with his best start of the 2015 season as Jenkins (2-6) went 8.1 IP en route to his second victory of 2015. Using his full array of pitches, Jenkins stayed in front of the Lions all night long as he came up with his second high-quality start of the year and just missed throwing his first complete game. In all, the junior allowed six hits and two earned runs with seven strike outs and four walks before handing the ball over to the bullpen and closer Vince Arobio (6). Arobio finished off the game for Jenkins in the ninth as the sophomore shut down a game-tying rally after entering with runners at second and third with only one out in the inning and facing the top of the Lion order.
Offensively, the Tigers grinded out their runs in support of Jenkins as they came up with single tallies in the third and fifth innings to start the game. Scoring first, Pacific manufactured the run in the third with a pair of sacrifices after a leadoff infield single put J.P. Yakel on to start the frame. With Yakel at third thanks to a bunt and a single, the Tigers got the run on a sacrifice fly to right by Jimmy Gosano.
Two innings later, the Tigers came up with another RBI from Gosano as the senior drove home McKay Koissian from third. Koissian was able to get into scoring position with a leadoff double down the left field line and moved to third on a single to right center by Tyler Sullivan.
After seeing their advantage disappear once again, Pacific went back to work and walked its way back into the lead as the Tigers posted two runs in the top of the seventh on just one hit. Thanks to four walks, two of which bookended a hit from T. Sullivan to load the bases, the Tigers recaptured the lead as Pacific picked up an RBI walk from Nate Verlin while Dallas Correa took a bruise to grab his hard-earned RBI. The last run taken by the hit by pitch proved to be the game-winner as the Tigers would hold on for the victory.
T. Sullivan finished the night with four consecutive singles and a 4-for-5 line with one run scored. The senior bumped his week's hit total to 9-for-10 after going 5-for-5 on Tuesday during the Tigers' midweek win at Sacramento State.
On the other side of the diamond, the Lions were able to score three times against Jenkins as they attempted to match Pacific run for run throughout the contest. The first run of the game came with assistance of an error by the Tigers in the fourth after LMU picked up its first hit of the game on a bunt single to start the inning. Two innings later, a two out walk by Jenkins led to the second run of the game for the Lions when it was followed by an RBI double down the right field line by Jimmy Jack.
Down two in the ninth, the Lions tried to rally against Jenkins as they came up with a leadoff jam single off the hands and followed two batters later with a double down the third base line. With the two on and only one out, the Tigers went to Arobio for the save. An infielder chopper brought home the third run of the game for the Lions and moved the tying run to third with only one out in the inning. Facing the Lions' number two hitter, Arobio was able to get Ted Boeke to pop up just behind first base. Making the catch while falling backward, Gosano, Pacific's second baseman, found himself on the seat of his pants with the second out in hand. Seeing Gosano on the ground, the Lions attempted to steal the tying run by tagging up from third, only to be cut down at the plate by a perfect throw from Gosano who was still seated on the dirt. The double play ended the game with the Lions' most dangerous hitter standing in the on-deck circle as Pacific captured the series opening victory.
The Tigers will look to secure the series win on Saturday, April 18, when they meet the Lions for game two of the three game series at Page Stadium. Pacific will send Will Lydon to the mound as the two teams clash at 6:00 pm.