Dixie State split the middle two games of its four-game Pacific West Conference series with Fresno Pacific on a wild Friday at Bruce Hurst Field. The Trailblazers (17-20, 13-14 PacWest) rallied with four runs in the bottom of the ninth to walk off with a 6-5 victory in the opener, while FPU (15-14, 12-11 PacWest) broke through in the series with a convincing 12-3 triumph in the seven-inning nightcap.
In game one, the Sunbirds scored two quick runs in the first inning and followed it up with single runs in the second, fifth and sixth frames on their way to a 5-0 lead. The early run support bolstered a strong start by FPU right-hander Alex Garcia, who only needed 56 pitches to retire 15 of the first 16 Trailblazers he faced through five innings, with the lone DSU baserunner coming on a Logan Porter leadoff walk in the second.
Dixie State finally solved Garcia in the home sixth when Kade Urban and Alec Flemetakis both reached on singles to lead off the stanza. Then after Jagun Leavitt bunted the two runners into scoring position, Joe Raymond singled home Urban, while Leavitt came around to score on an FPU fielding error on the play to cut the deficit to 5-2.
FPU had a chance to extend its three-run lead in the ninth as the Sunbirds loaded the bases with three-straight leadoff hits. Sunbird shortstop Tristen Alvarez then stepped up and drove a fly ball to right field, where DSU outfielder Gabe Taylor caught it and fired a strike to catcher Jake Davison, who tagged out Braden Frankfort at the plate for the double play. DSU reliever Brecken Lewis (W, 1-1) then induced an inning-ending groundout on his very next pitch to keep it a three-run deficit.
In the DSU ninth, Porter walked to lead off the frame, which was followed by a Tyler Hollow one-out double and a Davison single to right center that plated pinch-runner Kade Cloward to make it a 5-3 game. Urban and Flemetakis then drew back-to-back walks, with the Flemetakis free pass forcing in another run, which pulled DSU to within 5-4 and spelled the end of the day for Garcia (L, 4-3).
Pinch-hitter Kyle Hoffman tied the game at 5-5 with a fly out to right field, which set the stage for Raymond, who lined a 0-2 Jonathan Molina pitch to left field to drive in Urban carrying the game-winning run. Raymond finished with three hits and two RBIs in the opener, while Flemetakis collected two safeties to go with his RBI and run scored.
FPU never trailed in the nightcap as the Sunbirds broke open a scoreless game with three runs in the third, thanks in part to a two-run double off the bat of Hunter Villanueva. Flemetakis got one of those runs back with his third home run of the year, a solo shot to left field that led off the home third.
Trailing 6-1 in the fifth, Dixie State mounted a two-out rally, loading the bases on consecutive singles from Raymond and Taylor and a Porter walk off FPU starter Josue Mendivil (W, 2-3). Hollow then followed with an RBI single and Davison collected an RBI on a walk, which chased Mendivil and pulled the Trailblazers to within 6-3. But Sunbird reliever Tyler Rumbaugh (S, 2) came on to retire pinch-hitter Jake Engel on strikes to end the threat.
From there it was all Sunbirds as FPU plated a run in the sixth before erupting for five more in the seventh to put the game away.
Hollow and Hoffman each collected two hits as DSU finished with nine safeties overall.
The Trailblazers close out their 12-game homestand with the series finale Saturday at noon.
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.dixiestateathletics.com and follow Dixie State on Twitter at @DixieAthletics.