AZUSA, Calif. -- Five different players hit home runs for the NAIA’s No. 17-ranked Azusa Pacific, powering the Cougar offense in a 19-3 non-conference victory over Bethany University Wednesday afternoon at the Cougar Baseball Complex.
After flying out to center field in each of his first 2 plate appearances, junior second baseman Virgil Chavira slammed a leadoff solo home run in his third at-bat to in the bottom of the fourth inning that pushed Azusa Pacific’s lead to 7-0. He added a 2-run shot to left that helped spark a 7-run seventh, making amends for a fielding error that led to 3 unearned Bethany runs in the top of the seventh.
Junior leftfielder Anthony Delgado collected RBI singles in the second and sixth innings, then delivered a 1-out grand slam down the right-field line to give the Cougars a 15-3 lead. Delgado was 3-for-3 with a career-high 6 RBIs, and he now leads the team with 5 home runs, and 17 RBIs. Chavira had a 2-for-4, 3-RBI afternoon, and the Azusa Pacific offense drew 11 walks to go with 18 hits in the Cougars’ third win by a double-digit margin so far this season.
Senior lefthander Peter Gehle struck out 7 in his third start of the year, facing just 1 batter over the minimum over 6 shutout innings before Bethany tallied 3 runs, all unearned, with 2 outs in the top of the seventh. Gehle picked up the win, improving to 2-0 with a 2.65 earned-run average as Azusa Pacific readies for Golden State Athletic Conference play beginning next week.
Freshman designated hitter Jason Plowman and sophomore shortstop Sammy Soyring hit back-to-back home runs with 1 out in the bottom of the second, and an inning later junior centerfielder Josh Leite hit a 2-run shot to right with 1 out in the bottom of the third to give the Cougars a 6-0 lead.
With the victory, Azusa Pacific improves to 6-1 overall. Bethany, in the midst of a 9-game swing that includes 5 GSAC opponents, suffers its fifth straight double-digit loss to open the season. The teams meet 1 more time to complete the 2-game series with another 3 p.m. matchup on Thursday, Feb. 18, at the Cougar Baseball Complex.