ST. GEORGE – The No. 21-ranked Dixie State baseball team got good offensive performance from the bottom of their lineup to outpace the visiting Sunbirds of Fresno Pacific 9-6 Thursday night at Bruce Hurst Field.
“As a whole we did not play well tonight,” said DSU head coach Chris Pfatenhauer. “Probably three out of our last five games we have committed uncharacteristic errors. Tonight we had a couple and we gave up five walks. We need to play better.”
The Sunbirds continually challenged all game. Collecting 14 hits and the five walks, Fresno Pacific put plenty of runners on base. But they were unable to cash in on many of them, stranding 14 for the game.
“We can’t play in ‘survival mode,’” said Pfatenhauer. “We have to play like we are capable of playing.”
Because of a compacted schedule, playing eight games in eight days, Pfatenhauer had to go beyond his normal starting rotation and start relief pitcher Sean Hardman.
“This was Hardman’s second start this year,” said Pfatenhauer. “He has not pitched in two weeks, so it was asking a lot from him.”
Hardman pitched the first three innings and, going into the bottom of the third, the Storm trailed 4-2. DSU rallied to grab the lead. Drew McLaughlin started the inning with a single through the right side. Trey Kamachi then singled through the left side, advancing McLaughlin to second.
After a groundout, Ryan Rodriguez reached on a fielding error to score McLaughlin. Jerome Hill II then singled down the right field line to score Kamachi and tie the game at 4-4. Miles Bice was thrown out at first, but scored Rodriguez. Reece Lucero then singled to left field to score Hill and Rodriguez. Tyler Mildenberg singled through the right side to put DSU runners at first and second. Tanner Morache then singled through the right side to score Lucero before FPU ended the inning with the next batter. The score stood 7-4 after three innings.
“Our 6-9 batters were 10 for 13 tonight,” said Pfatenhauer. “Without that production, we probably have a different result tonight.”
The Storm put up an insurance run in each of the fifth and sixth innings. In the fifth, McLaughlin doubled in Lucero. In the sixth, Bice’s single to center field scored Hill and the score was 9-4 after six.
FPU rallied in the eighth, first scoring on a single down the left field line. They then loaded the bases with the tying run at bat with one out. DSU pitcher Tyler Burdett got the batter to hit it back to him and his throw to catcher Lucero beat the runner going home. The next batter hit a single through the right side scoring one, but Kamachi’s throw from right field caught the second runner at home to end the inning.
DSU closer Spencer Greer retired FPU’s final three batters to pick up the save. Walker Williams picked up the win in relief. Williams pitched 3.1 shutout innings.
With the victory DSU has won seven in a row to move to 25-6 overall, 13-4 in the PacWest, a half game behind conference front-runner Cal Baptist. Fresno Pacific falls to 13-17, 8-8 in the PacWest. The teams will resume their series with a doubleheader Friday. The first game is scheduled for 4 p.m.
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