LAKESIDE, Calif. -- Sometimes you need to go small to come up big. Azusa Pacific, which bashed 27 home runs in its first 11 games, failed to leave the yard in Saturday’s road doubleheader at San Diego Christian, but the Cougars returned home with a doubleheader sweep over the Hawks, posting a 10-2 win in the opener and a 10-1 victory in the nightcap.
Twenty of Azusa Pacific’s 27 hits were singles, the Cougars reached base by walks or hit-batsmen 11 times, and no Cougar pitcher gave up more than a run while holding San Diego Christian to just 7 hits in each game. More importantly, Azusa Pacific picked up right where it left off after a big win in the first game, picking up the second win with 5 doubles at the plate and a trio of double plays in the field in the 7-inning nightcap.
In 3 of 4 doubleheaders heading into today’s double-dip, the Cougars had posted at least a 9-run margin of victory in the first game, only to see the second game decided by 3 runs or less, including a 5-4 defeat to Fresno Pacific just 3 days earlier after hammering the Sunbirds for a 15-6 decision in the opener.
In the first game, senior Scott Hodsdon and junior Stephen Kohatsu each collected first-inning RBI singles to put the Cougars up 2-0 in the first game, and the Cougars added 3 more in the fourth on a pair of RBI singles from sophomore Stephen Gillette and junior Galen Komo and a run-scoring San Diego Christian error.
That was all Game 1 starter Jonny Bravo needed, as he picked up his second victory of the season with 5 and a third innings of 5-hit ball. Bravo surrendered just 1 run and struck out 3, and junior Zach Pettikas struck out 5 over the final 3 and two-thirds innings to earn the save.
Junior shortstop Matt Venegas went 3-for-6 in the leadoff spot to set the table for the Cougars, and junior Eddie Crespo collected 3 hits to pace Azusa Pacific’s 15-hit attack in the 10-2 win.
San Diego Christian struck first in the nightcap, scoring its lone run on a first-inning sacrifice fly, but junior righthander Ryan Zaft didn’t allow another baserunner past first base for the rest of his 6-inning start. Zaft, starting for the first time this season, scattered 6 hits and induced ground-ball double plays in the third and fifth innings to post his first victory of the 2007 campaign. Sophomore Garrett Lebsock tossed a scoreless seventh, ending the game on a third Cougar double play ball in the bottom of the seventh.
Venegas tied the game at 1-1 with an RBI single in the top of the second that scored Crespo, then came around to score on senior Stephen Vogt’s 2-run double that gave the Cougars a 3-1 lead. Sophomore Kirk Nieuwenhuis led off the Cougar third inning with a double down the right-field line, then came across to push the lead to 4-1 on freshman Brice Cutspec’s ground-rule double to right. Cutspec scored on a Crespo single to center to give the Cougars a 5-1 lead.
Azusa Pacific added 4 more in the fourth inning and another in the fifth to provide the final 10-1 margin.
With the sweep, Azusa Pacific improves to 12-1 overall, 5-1 in the GSAC, while San Diego Christian, a first-year baseball program, drops to 6-4 overall, 3-3 in GSAC. The Cougars are off for a week, their longest break until April, before continuing conference play with an 11 a.m. home doubleheader against Westmont next Saturday, Feb. 24.