RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- All 9 batters in Azusa Pacific’s starting lineup scored or drove in at least 2 runs, and 4 pitchers combined for a 2-hit shutout as the NAIA’s No. 17-ranked Cougars posted a 20-0 victory over La Sierra University on a damp Friday afternoon in Riverside. The rain that soaked the rest of Southern California appeared only briefly in the form of a mid-game sprinkling, but the game was played mostly in overcast but dry conditions.
Azusa Pacific sent 12 batters to the plate in a 9-run fifth inning that blew the game open, highlighted by the first career home run for true freshman rightfielder Daniel Gonzales, a grand slam that pushed the Cougars’ lead to 12-0 with 1 out in the fifth. Four batters later, junior leftfielder Anthony Delgado made it a 15-0 game with a 3-run shot to right-center.
First baseman Jason Plowman, a true freshman playing in his first college game, slammed an 0-2 pitch over the fence in left-center in his first collegiate plate appearance. His 3-run shot gave the Cougars a 3-0 lead, and a 3-run fourth inning pushed the lead to 6-0 before Azusa Pacific’s fifth-inning offensive explosion.
Meanwhile, after surrendering a pair of singles in the first 2 innings, Cougar right-handed starting pitcher Ryan Rosenhahn retired the final 10 batters he faced, and redshirt freshman righthander Cameron Ross ran the streak to 16 consecutive outs with 5 strikeouts in 2 perfect innings of relief.
A fielding error in the eighth inning put La Sierra’s leadoff batter on base in the bottom of the eighth, but sophomore righthander Joe Karlik, who was also making his collegiate debut, induced 3 straight infield groundouts to keep the shutout bid alive. Senior righthander Scott Sakoda retired the side in order in the bottom of the ninth, striking out 2, to preserve the shutout and complete a 14-strikeout game for the Azusa Pacific pitching staff.
Junior centerfielder Josh Leite hit safely in all 3 of his at-bats off the bench, including a leadoff home run down the right-field line in the top of the sixth inning. Seven different Cougars registered multiple hits, and Gonzales produced a game-high 5 RBIs thanks mostly to his fifth-inning grand slam.
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 2-0, while La Sierra drops to 1-5. The teams will play again in a non-conference night game in Azusa on Monday, Feb. 15.