COSTA MESA, Calif. -- It’s Eddie Crespo’s world, and Azusa Pacific is just along for the ride. For the second straight game, Crespo lifted the Cougars to a win, slapping a pair of 2-out, run-scoring singles to provide the final margin of a 3-2 GSAC road victory at Vanguard Wednesday afternoon. It was the 1,200th victory in Azusa Pacific's program history.
In the Cougars’ second and fourth innings, the first 2 Cougar batters were retired, with freshman Brice Cutspec drawing 2-out walks each time. In the top of the second inning, sophomore Stephen Gillette doubled to right to put runners on second and third, and Crespo singled to center to bring in both and give the Cougars a 2-0 lead.
Vanguard answered with a pair in the third when Matt Voorhies doubled to left with 2 runners on and advanced to third on a Cougar error that allowed the second Vanguard run to score and tie the game, but Voorhies was cut down at the plate when Cougar catcher Stephen Vogt tracked down the ball and fired to pitcher Brad Boekestein at the plate to keep the game tied.
In the bottom of the fourth, the first 2 Cougars again went down before Cutspec drew another walk and Gillette singled to left to give Crespo another run-producing opportunity. The 5-foot-7 right fielder singled to right to bring in Cutspec and give Azusa Pacific a 3-2 lead.
Those 3 runs were all the Cougar pitching staff needed, as Boekestein didn’t allow any more runs through 6 innings, sophomore righthander Garrett Lebsock tossed 2 perfect innings and sophomore lefty Zach Pettikas threw an eventful but scoreless ninth to pick up his second save of the season.
After striking out the leadoff man in the bottom of the ninth, Pettikas gave up a single to Adam Hastings, but Gillette gunned down pinch-runner Daniel Black at third when Black tried to get an extra base on Keegan Freeman’s single to left. The Lions got a third straight base-hit when Luke Iverson singled to left, but Pettikas struck out Nick Vaughn to end the game and give the Cougars their fifth straight win.
With the victory, Azusa Pacific improves to 15-1 overall, 8-1 in the GSAC, remaining in a first-place tie with Point Loma Nazarene, which was an 8-2 winner over San Diego Christian. Vanguard drops to 4-4 overall, 4-4 in GSAC. The Cougars host Vanguard in a 2:30 p.m. contest tomorrow afternoon in Azusa, then visit Point Loma Nazarene for an 11 a.m. doubleheader on Saturday, March 3.