LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Junior righthander Christian Gagné threw 7 innings of 2-hit ball, earning the win in Azusa Pacific’s 9-1 road win over Cal State L.A. Tuesday afternoon.
Gagné never faced more than 4 batters in any of his 7 innings, and he struck out 6 without walking a batter. In the fourth inning, Max Moya reached on an error to lead off the inning. However, Gagné got the next batter to line out before inducing an inning-ending double play ball to senior shortstop Matt Venegas, the first 2 of 7 straight batters retired.
The Cougar offense manufactured 9 runs on 14 hits, lighting up the scoreboard in 5 of its 9 turns at the plate. Senior designated hitter Stephen Kohatsu led the way, going 3-for-4 with 5 RBIs, while Venegas, Azusa Pacific’s leadoff hitter, went 2-for-4 with 2 runs to go with a pair of RBIs. Ten different Cougar batters recorded base hits, and 8 different players scored the Azusa Pacific runs.
Junior centerfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis smacked a 2-out double in the top of the first inning, then came around to score on senior designated hitter Stephen Kohatsu’s RBI single through the left side to give the Cougars an early 1-0 lead. In the top of the third, Kohatsu’s bases-loaded single to center with 1 out plated 2 more for a 3-0 advantage.
Gagné, who had given up just 1 hit in the first 5 2/3 innings, lost his shutout on Tyler Warmerdam’s 2-out solo home run to straightaway center field in the bottom of the sixth inning that cut the lead to 3-1. Azusa Pacific answered right back in the top of the seventh, thanks again to a clutch 2-out single from Kohatsu that scored Venegas and senior second baseman Galen Komo.
The Cougars added 2 each in the eighth and ninth innings, with Venegas driving in a pair in the eighth with a single through the right side. Junior right fielder Drew Evans doubled into the right field gap to score Kohatsu, who had reached on 1 of 3 Cal State L.A. errors, and Evans scored when outfielder Chris Cooper singled to center.
Junior righthander Garrett Lebsock struck out 2 batters in 2 hitless innings to close out the game.
Azusa Pacific, ranked No. 2 in the NAIA preseason coaches poll, improves to 3-0 while outscoring its opponents 31-7. Cal State L.A., ranked No. 17 in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s NCAA Division II preseason poll, drops to 3-1. The Cougars are back in action Wednesday, Feb. 6, hosting Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in a 5 p.m. contest.