Junior Gabe Taylor homered and pitched six solid innings to help lead Dixie State to a 7-5 series-clinching win over Fresno Pacific on Saturday afternoon at Bruce Hurst Field. The Trailblazers went 9-3 on their 12-game homestand and have won 12 of their last 16 overall to move to 18-20 overall and 14-14 in Pacific West Conference play.
FPU (15-15, 12-12 PacWest) took an early 2-0 lead on Taylor and the Trailblazers with single runs in the second and third frames. Dixie State got those runs back and more in the home third when Jagun Leavitt reached on a one-out single and Joe Raymond was hit by a pitch ahead of Taylor, who helped his own cause by connecting for his first collegiate home run, a three-run blast to left field to give DSU a 3-2 advantage.
Taylor then settled in, retiring nine of the next 11 Sunbirds he faced, while the Trailblazers struck for three more runs the next three innings to extend to a 6-2 lead after six complete. Tyler Hollow drove in a run with a single in the fifth, while DSU plated two more runs in the sixth on a Kyle Hoffman run-scoring hit and a Raymond sacrifice fly.
Fresno Pacific did make it interesting late as the Sunbirds took advantage of a two-out DSU error in the seventh for one run, and they cut the deficit to 6-5 in the eighth with an Eddie Sievers two-run single.
However, that was as close as FPU got as the Trailblazers picked up a big insurance run on a Leavitt two-out single in the bottom of the eighth, while senior closer Tanner Howell (S, 4) retired the Sunbirds in order in the ninth to end the game.
Leavitt collected three hits out of the leadoff spot to pace the DSU offense, while Hollow and Hoffman finished with two hits apiece as the Trailblazers pounded out 10 hits in the game. Taylor (W, 3-4) fanned three and scattered six hits and two runs in his six innings of work to win for the third time in as many starts.
After a much-needed week off, Dixie State begins its final PacWest road swing with a four-game series at conference newcomer Biola on April 19-21.
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.