SANTA CLARITA, Calif. -- The NAIA’s No. 2-ranked Azusa Pacific loaded the bases in the top of the first for cleanup hitter Scott Hodsdon, last week’s GSAC Player of the Week, and Hodsdon cleared the bases with a grand slam, part of a 7-run first inning as the Cougars cruised to a 10-3 road victory over The Master’s Wednesday afternoon.
The inning continued after Hodsdon’s blast to center, with back-to-back singles from Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Stephen Kohatsu. The Cougars were able to tack on 3 more runs in the inning without another hit, drawing 3 walks and a hit-batsman to give Azusa Pacific pitcher Ryan Zaft a 7-0 lead to start the game.
Zaft struck out 9 Mustangs in 7 innings of work to improve to 3-0 on the season, and Christian Gagne struck out 3 batters in 2 scoreless innings to finish the game.
Nieuwenhuis went 4-for-5, collecting hits in each of his first 4 at-bats, including a pair of doubles in the second and fourth innings. Both of his extra-base hits accounted for the remaining 3 Cougar runs, as his 2-bagger to lead off the second inning put him in position to score on Brice Cutspec’s RBI double to right, and his fourth-inning RBI double scored Hodsdon and led to another Nieuwenhuis run on Cutspec’s sacrifice fly to center that gave Azusa Pacific a 10-0 lead.
Every position player reached base safely in the Cougars’ 10-hit attack, and Azusa Pacific drew 5 walks and 3 hit-batsmen.
With the win, Azusa Pacific extends its GSAC-win streak to 9 games and improves to 31-4 overall, 20-3 in GSAC. The Cougars’ last GSAC loss was a 5-4, 10-inning defeat in the second game of their first midweek series with The Master’s, a team that has split 7 of its 10 GSAC 2-game sets so far this season. The Mustangs drop to 16-19 overall and 9-13 in GSAC play. The Cougars host The Master’s Thursday afternoon at 5 p.m.