AZUSA, Calif. -- The NAIA’s No. 17-ranked Azusa Pacific had no trouble bouncing back from its first defeat of the season, scoring 12 runs in the first 3 innings of a 23-1 victory over La Sierra Monday night.
The final 23-run tally, which could have been much worse for La Sierra’s thin pitching staff had the game gone the full 9 innings instead of ending after 7, included a pair of 3-hit efforts from true freshmen Daniel Gonzales and Jason Plowman. Gonzales collected 2 hits in the bottom of the sixth, leading off the frame with a single and wrapping up the game’s scoring with his second grand slam of the year, a 1-out shot to right field that capped a 9-run frame. Fifteen Cougars stepped to the plate, and at one point 11 in a row reached safely in the inning.
Plowman came off the bench to go 3-for-4, and he too had a pair of hits, both 1-out singles to left, in the sixth inning. All 15 Azusa Pacific hitters who made more than 1 plate appearance reached base safely, and the majority of the Cougars’ starting lineup was already replaced before the fifth inning started.
Gonzales’ slam was 1 of 4 home runs for Azusa Pacific. Junior centerfielder Josh Leite hit a 3-run shot down the right-field line to cap a 5-run first inning, and Ryan Delgado and Anthony Delgado both went deep with no outs and runners on in the Cougars’ 7-run third inning.
Sophomore righthander Joe Karlik tossed 3 hitless innings in his first collegiate start, and senior righthander Scott Sakoda earned the win after retiring all 4 batters he faced before Tommy Gonzales and Chris Cooper each fired scoreless frames to close out the win.
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 5-1 on the season, while La Sierra has dropped 6 straight to fall to 1-6. The Cougars host Bethany for a pair of non-conference home games Wednesday and Thursday (Feb. 17-18) before kicking off Golden State Athletic Conference play with next week’s 4-game set against Vanguard.