Dixie State came away with a split of the final two games of its Pacific West Conference season-opening series at Point Loma on Saturday afternoon at Carroll B. Land Stadium. DSU rallied late for a 12-9 win in the opener but could not get the bats going in the seven-inning finale as the Sea Lions blanked DSU, 3-0, to take three of four in the series.
In game one, the Trailblazers (5-9, 1-3 PacWest) broke open scoreless with three runs in the fourth on a pair of RBI doubles from Bryce Feist and Jake Davison, while Alec Flemetakis drove another run on a groundout later in the frame.
However, that lead didn't last long as the Sea Lions (7-6, 3-1 PacWest) erupted for six runs in the home half of the frame, with the big blow delivered with a John Balliet grand slam home run, which staked PLNU to a 6-3 advantage.
Dixie State flirted with a grand slam of its own one inning later when with the bases loaded and one out, Logan Porter drilled a 1-1 Stephen Young (ND) offering to straight-away center field, but Sea Lion outfielder Micah Pries made the homer-saving catch with a leaping grab at the wall, which did bring home one of two DSU runs in the frame to pull DSU to within 6-5.
Trailing 7-5 in the seventh, DSU struck for four runs to jump back on top at 7-5. The Trailblazers loaded the bases ahead of Flemetakis, who drew a four-pitch walk to force in the first run, while freshman reserve catcher Jake Foster rapped a two-run single down the left-field line—his first collegiate hit, to put DSU up 8-7. PLNU then booted a ball on the infield with two outs, which brought home another Trailblazer run.
DSU again could not get a shutdown inning to protect its lead as the first four Sea Lions to bat in the home seventh reached safely, which included Tyler Flores delivering a two-run single up the middle to knot the score at 9-9.
The game remained tied until the 10th when the Trailblazers loaded the bases on walks to Jagun Leavitt and Feist, which bookended a Gabe Taylor single. Porter then drove in the go-ahead run with another walk, while Tyler Hollow singled home one and Drake Benner collected an RBI on a fly out to stake DSU to a three-run cushion. DSU senior reliever Tanner Howell (W, 2-0) then worked around a one-out walk in the home 10th by inducing a game-ending double play.
Dixie State clubbed out 12 hits in game one, led by Taylor who went 3-for-5 with a career-high four runs scored, while Davison and Kyle Hoffman finished with two hits apiece. Howell worked the final 4.1 innings, scattering five hits and two runs with three strikeouts to earn his second win out of the Trailblazer bullpen.
The nightcap, however, was a different story as PLNU starter Wyatt Shackleford (W, 1-1) baffled the Trailblazer offense, which connected for just two hits in his first six innings. Meanwhile, PLNU scored two runs in the first and added an insurance run in the second.
DSU had a chance in the seventh as the Trailblazers brought up the potential tying run with no outs after Porter singled to lead off the frame and Davison was hit by a pitch. Shackleford then retired the final three hitters he faced to preserve his complete-game shutout.
Dixie State returns home for a four-game PacWest series against No. 1 Azusa Pacific next weekend at Bruce Hurst Field.
Steve Johnson is the Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations and Collegiate Licensing at Dixie State University. For more DSU Athletics news, please visit www.dixieathletics.com and follow Dixie State on Twitter at @DixieAthletics.