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Living On The Long Ball

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February 2, 2007
Joe Reinsch
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AZUSA, Calif. -- A week after lighting up first-year NAIA independent Cal State San Marcos for 46 runs, including 7 home runs in a 3-game weekend series, Azusa Pacific got off to a similar start against Bethany, another NAIA independent, belting 3 round-trippers in a 12-3 rout Friday night.

Every Cougar starter hit safely in a 17-hit barrage, led by senior leadoff man Johnny Soberal and junior third baseman James O’Neill, who each collected 3 hits. Senior Scott Hodsdon drove a towering 2-run shot just inside the left field foul pole for a 2-0 Cougar lead in the first inning, and freshman Brice Cutspec and sophomore Stephen Gillette went deep for back-to-back home runs to start a 6-run third inning that blew the game open for the Cougars.

Junior lefthander Brad Boekestein, who threw 4 solid innings in relief of sophomore Garret Lebsock in a 22-7 win over Cal State San Marcos a week ago, earned his first win of the season with a 5-inning, 5-strikeout performance. Lebsock earned the save after striking out 6 in 4 innings of relief of Boekestein.

After surrendering a leadoff double in the top of the second, Boekestein nearly worked himself out of trouble, inducing a fly out and then striking out Bryan Beres. However, Daniel Garcia and Justin Burger knocked consecutive singles to right to tie the game at 2-2 before Boekestein induced a grounder to shortstop to end the threat.

With 1 out in the bottom of the second, junior shortstop Grant Beyer doubled, moved to third on an O’Neill single, then scored on Soberal’s sacrifice fly. O’Neill came around to give the Cougars a 4-2 lead when junior Galen Komo ripped a line drive down the left field line for an RBI double.

Sophomore Kirk Nieuwenhuis tripled to open Azusa Pacific’s 6-run third. Cutspec slammed his second home run of the season just over the right-center field fence, and Gillette followed Cutspec by pounding his fourth home run in as many games this season to give the Cougars a 7-2 lead. Two outs later, Hodsdon pushed the lead to 10-2 after a bases-clearing double down the left field line, scoring O’Neill, Rod Wilson and Komo to end Bethany starter Jeremy Glenn’s evening. Bruins reliever Nick Renzi walked Nieuwenhuis and Cutspec to load the bases again before inducing an inning-ending groundout from Gillette.

Renzi scattered 2 runs on 6 hits in 4 and a third innings of relief work for Bethany. The Cougars touched him up for single runs on a fourth-inning RBI single from senior Stephen Vogt and a fifth-inning RBI double from Gillette that gave Azusa Pacific a 12-2 lead. J.P. LaPointe’s RBI single in the top of the seventh rounded out the scoring. LaPointe finished with 2 hits to lead Bethany’s offense.

With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 4-0 on the season for the first time since 2001. Bethany, an NAIA independent, drops to 2-2. The teams wrap up their 3-game series with an 11 a.m. doubleheader Saturday in Azusa.