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Surprising Stars Lift Cougars

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Published
March 8, 2008
By
Joe Reinsch
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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Junior righthander Garrett Lebsock tossed a complete-game 3-hitter in just his second collegiate start, and true freshman Carlos Maddox slammed his first collegiate home run in the 10th inning of the nightcap to lift the NAIA’s No. 2-ranked Azusa Pacific to a 15-0, 4-3 doubleheader sweep over Westmont Saturday afternoon.

Lebsock threw just 85 pitches in the opening-game 9-inning shutout, scattering 3 hits and allowing just 1 additional baserunner on a Cougar error. He struck out 5 Westmont batters and no Warrior baserunner made it past second base until the seventh inning, when a 2-base error put the inning’s leadoff batter, Anthony Martinez, at second base. A groundout back to the mound moved the runner to third with 1 out, but Lebsock struck out Mark Boujikian and got an inning-ending flyout, then retired the Warriors in order in the eighth and ninth innings to preserve the shutout.

Lebsock’s second start was a significant improvement over his first, a 22-7 victory over Cal State San Marcos in the 2007 season opener. In that contest, Lebsock lasted 5 innings after surrendering 6 runs on 8 hits, including a pair of home runs. Since that start, Lebsock had made 29 relief appearances for the Cougars, including 7 this season lasting no longer than 3.1 innings.

Maddox, on the other hand, serves primarily as Azusa Pacific’s courtesy runner when the catcher reaches base, entered Saturday’s doubleheader with plate appearances in just 3 previous contests. He hit an eighth-inning run-scoring single in the Game 1 blowout, then replaced starting center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the nightcap as a result of Nieuwenhuis’ ejection from the game. With the game tied at 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning, both benches cleared when Taylor Maddox broke up a potential double-play ball with a controversial slide into Cougar shortstop Matt Venegas. Westmont’s Maddox bumped chests with Nieuwenhuis, resulting in ejections for both players, and the Cougar freshman took Nieuwenhuis’ place in center field.

Nieuwenhuis had lined out to shortstop for the third out in the top of the seventh, so Maddox did not bat until he led off the top of the tenth inning, when he hammered Jonathan White’s full-count offering over the left-field fence to give the Cougars their first and only lead in the nightcap.

In the first game, Azusa Pacific batted around the order in both the first and third innings, tallying 5 runs in each frame for an early 10-0 lead. The Cougars added 2 each in the fourth and seventh innings before Maddox’s RBI single in the eighth accounted for the final 15-0 margin.

Westmont took advantage of back-to-back Cougar errors in the bottom of the first, tagging second-game starter Christian Gagné for 3 runs on 3 hits in the first inning. The Cougars chipped away at the 3-0 deficit, scoring single runs in the second, fourth and sixth innings to tie the game and send it to extra innings. After the 3-run first inning, Gagné and sophomore righthander Scott Sakoda threw 3 shutout innings each before giving way to junior righthander Ben Jones. Jones fired 3 scoreless innings, giving up a hit and 2 walks, to pick up the victory in relief.

Sophomore first baseman Brice Cutspec and Venegas led the Cougars’ offense, collecting 4 hits apiece on the day. Venegas was 3-for-6 with a pair of doubles in the opener, while Cutspec was Azusa Pacific’s only 2-hit batter in the nightcap with a 2-for-5 effort that included the game-tying RBI single in the sixth inning of the nightcap.

Senior designated hitter Stephen Kohatsu hit his sixth home run of the season, a solo shot to lead off the Cougars’ 5-run third inning in the first game. Cougar second basemen Grant Beyer and Galen Komo combined for 4 hits from their lineup spot in the opener, with Beyer driving in a game-high 3 runs in a 2-for-2 effort.

Azusa Pacific recorded the conference’s only sweep of the afternoon, with the other 8 teams each splitting Saturday doubleheaders, moving the Cougars a game ahead of Fresno Pacific in the loss column.

With the sweep, Azusa Pacific improves to 19-2 overall, 11-2 GSAC, while Westmont drops to 3-11 overall, 2-10 GSAC. The Cougars host Dixie State (Utah) in non-conference action on Monday and Tuesday, March 10 and 11, before resuming GSAC play with a visit to California Baptist on Wednesday, March 12.