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Boys of Summer Heat Up Winter

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January 31, 2008
Joe Reinsch
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AZUSA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific got 2 chances to make a first impression on Opening Day 2008, and the NAIA’s No. 2-ranked Cougars showed flashes of brilliance in every phase of the game in a 5-1, 17-5 doubleheader sweep over Patten Thursday afternoon.

Senior shortstop Matt Venegas smacked the second pitch he saw over the right-field fence to get the 2008 campaign rolling with a leadoff solo home run, and junior outfielders Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Drew Evans each went deep to left field in the 5-1 win.

Junior righthander Garrett Hodges got the opening-game nod, and he delivered 5 no-hit innings before giving way to the Cougar bullpen. Hodges faced just 17 batters in his 5 innings of work, striking out 5 Patten batters.

In the nightcap, Azusa Pacific scored in each of its 6 at-bats in the 7-inning contest, including junior left fielder Stephen Gillette’s 1-out grand slam in the bottom of the second inning that gave the Cougars an 8-3 lead. Gillette finished the game 4-for-5 with 3 runs and 6 RBIs.

Venegas collected 2 hits in each game, and Nieuwenhuis was 1 of 3 more Cougars to hit safely in each game of the doubleheader. Senior designated hitter Stephen Kohatsu went 1-for-3 in each game and reached twice more by hit-batsman in the nightcap, and sophomore first baseman Chris Feicht went 4-for-8 with 3 doubles on the day.

With the sweep, Azusa Pacific improves to 2-0 after its first day of action, while Patten drops to 0-5 on the season. The Cougars return to action to face NCAA Division II Cal State L.A. in a 2 p.m. road contest on Tuesday, Feb. 5.