Pacific Tigers Baseball is Hitting its Stride

(Above: Ricky Reynoso ’19)Tigers have won their last three games in a row and are now 11-16 overall. PC: Pacific Athletics

After a slow start to the season, Pacific baseball has racked up a few victories and momentum to hopefully build off for the rest of the season. A string of strong performances by the Tigers showcased not only some of their best players’ talents, but also their mental fortitude.

Under new head coach Ryan Garko, the Tigers had high hopes going into this season to set a cornerstone for the program to build off of for years to come. A tough stretch at the beginning of the season which included a seven-game losing streak that stretched over two weeks in the middle of March was disappointing.

Nevertheless, after clinching their first conference victory of the year on March 25 against the University of San Diego, the team is looking revitalized and its potential is on full display.

In the game against the Toreros the team fell behind 3-0 by the end of the 2nd inning but, after a few fruitful at-bats from Bradley Jekich ‘19 and Kevin Sandri ‘19, cut the lead to 3-2 by the end of the 3rd.

Mid-way through the 6th inning with the game tied at six runs each, the Tigers took the lead and never looked back to clinch the victory, scoring two runs to reclaim the lead.

Alex LeForestier ‘21 led off with a walk before advancing to second on a ground out. With two outs, James Free ‘20 was intentionally walked by the Toreros. Nate Verlin ‘19 loaded the bases after he was hit by a pitch. In the next at-bat, Lucas Halstead ‘18 singled to center field to score Free and LeForestier for the 8-6 lead.

The Tigers ended up winning 9-7 with the highlights being the team racking up 10 hits and starter Cooper Casad ‘18 clinching his first victory of the year after pitching 4.1 innings, recording two strikeouts along the way. Justin Giovannoni ‘18 was able to earn his first career save as the team celebrated earning a well-fought victory. The team did lose the series to the Toreos 2-1, but the rejuvenation was evident and the results followed in the series against Loyola.

The team faced Loyola Marymount University in a series at home in Stockton this past weekend. The Tigers fought back from falling behind 1-0 in the series after a loss on Friday, 4-13 in the series opener.

The Tigers followed up that disappointing result with two victories that were reached in a multitude of ways. The first victory was a 3-2 win with a strong pitching performance from Ricky Reynoso ‘19, who had his second quality start of the season against Loyola.

He went 7.0 innings and gave up just three hits, striking out four batters in an impressive outing for the starter from San Diego.

“Ricky’s performance tonight is what college sports is all about,” said head coach Ryan Garko after the game. “He dealt with some adversity, didn’t give in, and won the big spots. Offensively, we continue to work and it was nice to see some balls driven tonight. Our hitters started slow but found a way. LMU is a very good team and I’m proud of our guys for bouncing back and fighting so hard tonight.”

A tough offensive outing in the second game of the series was followed up by a 7-run and 11-hit afternoon that earned the Tigers the series-clinching victory. The Orange and Black tallied 11 hits with five RBIs.

Halstead and Tyler Ryan ‘19 each had three hits in five at-bats. Halstead notched two RBIs and two runs, while Ryan had one RBI and one run. Keaton Glover ‘20 tallied two RBI in one hit. Verlin scored two runs with Free and Jekich each scoring one. Sandri, LeForestier, Free, and Jekich each had one hit, as well.

The Tigers improved to 10-16 on the season and made it three victories in their last four games. The team is boasting a .500 record at home and a 3-6 conference record this season in front of an average attendance of over 1800 people.

The team returns to action April 2 at home against the University of Hawaii, which will prove a worthy adversary holding a 16-9 record this season.

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