COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific got off to a much better start than Wednesday’s GSAC opener, but the NAIA’s No. 17-ranked Cougars blew a 4-1 lead in the sixth inning Thursday afternoon and eventually lost 10-4 in Game 2 of this week’s 4-game series with Vanguard.
Senior RHP Ian Kelly worked out of second- and fourth-inning jams, and he took a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning. A leadoff walk got the Lions offense rolling, with back-to-back singles cutting the lead to 4-2. Junior reliever Michael Oeser delivered a pair of wild pitches that allowed another run to score, and senior catcher Chris Feicht’s 2-out passed ball allowed Vanguard to tie the game at 4-4 in the sixth.
In the seventh and eighth innings, Vanguard capitalized on 4 Cougar errors to tack on 6 more runs, all unearned, for the final 10-4 count, and it took 3 different pitchers to get Azusa Pacific out of an eighth inning that delivered 4 insurance runs for the Lions.
After a scoreless first inning, the Cougars tallied single runs in 4 straight innings to take a 4-1 lead in the fifth, with junior centerfielder Josh Leite’s fourth-inning solo home run giving the Cougars a 3-1 lead at the time. Leite was 1 of 3 Cougars with 2 hits, although his solo shot was Azusa Pacific’s only extra-base hit.
With the loss, the Cougars fall to 7-3 overall, 0-2 in GSAC play, and the teams will wrap up the 4-game set with a doubleheader at the Cougar Baseball Complex. Originally scheduled for Saturday, the games have been moved up to Friday beginning at 1 p.m. in order to avoid expected weekend rain.