LEWISTON, Idaho -- Azusa Pacific nearly knocked off the NAIA’s top-ranked Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) College Friday afternoon, but the Warriors rallied for walk-off victories in an 8-7, 6-5 doubleheader sweep of the Cougars to wrap up a 4-game non-conference series sweep.
In the first game, Azusa Pacific scored 3 runs in the seventh to tie the game at 7-7, and the Cougar bullpen fired 6 consecutive scoreless innings in relief of starter Peter Gehle to help send the game to 12 innings. However, in the bottom of the twelfth, Lewis-Clark State rightfielder Bryan Abrey hit a leadoff double and scored on Travis Georgius’ 1-out single up the middle to lead the Warriors to the extra-innings walk-off victory.
In the 9-inning nightcap, junior shortstop Virgil Chavira drilled a 2-out single up the middle to score 2 runs and break a 3-3 tie, giving Azusa Pacific a lead that held up until Lewis-Clark State’s final at-bat in the ninth inning. The Warriors pulled to within 5-4 in the sixth with an unearned run just before rain showers began to soak Harris Field over the final 3 frames. Both teams went scoreless in the seventh and eighth, but Abrey served the hero’s role again, lining a no-outs, bases-loaded single to right-center to give Lewis-Clark State a 6-5 win and a 4-game series sweep over Azusa Pacific.
Senior Chris Feicht opened the day’s scoring in the opener with a leadoff solo home run to straightaway center field in the top of the second, the first of his 6 hits on the day. Feicht was 3-for-5 in both games, and junior centerfielder Josh Leite was 5-for-10 in the twinbill. Chavira joined Feicht and Leite with multiple hits in both games, collecting 2 hits in each game.
Senior righthander Garrett Hodges loaded the bases and walked in a run with no outs in the first inning of the nightcap and a passed ball scored another, but Hodges was able to limit the damage to a 3-run inning by retiring 3 straight to end the inning. Including the 3 first-inning outs, Hodges set down 14 of 17 Warriors hitters and didn’t allow another hit from the first through fifth innings. A 1-out error in the sixth loaded the bases with 1 out, but Lewis-Clark State managed just 1 run on a sacrifice fly before Hodges struck out Michael Bush to preserve the Cougars’ 5-4 lead through 6 innings.
Hodges surrendered a 1-out single up the middle to Brian Burke in the bottom of the seventh, but he got a groundout and finished his 7-inning appearance with a strikeout, his seventh of the game. Two of the 4 runs scored off Hodges were unearned, and he allowed 5 hits and 3 walks against his 7 punchouts. Sophomore Tim Lu fired a scoreless inning of relief in the eighth after loading the bases with 2 outs, but he walked the first 2 batters in the ninth and hit the next batter to load the bases with no outs and set up Abrey’s game-winning single off senior righthander Garrett Granitz.
Both Lu and Granitz threw in both games of the doubleheader, and senior righthander Ryan Rosenhahn struck out 3 in 3.1 innings of relief in Game 1 before surrendering Travis Georgius’ game-winning single in the 12th inning. In all, the Cougar bullpen held Lewis-Clark State to just 3 runs on 7 hits in 8 innings of work in the doubleheader.
Brian Burke was the Warriors’ offensive leader, turning in a pair of 2-hit performances. In the first game, he drove in 6 runs, including a clutch 1-out grand slam that rounded out a 5-run fifth that gave Lewis-Clark State a 7-4 lead. Burke hit a 2-run double down the left field line an inning before that, cutting Azusa Pacific’s lead to 4-2 at the time. In the nightcap, Burke went 2-for-4 and scored twice.
Both of the Warriors’ starting pitchers were knocked out in the third inning, but the Lewis-Clark State bullpen held Azusa Pacific scoreless for the final 5 innings of Game 1 and the final 4 frames of the nightcap.
With the sweep, Azusa Pacific drops to 13-19 overall while Lewis-Clark State improves to 28-2, which includes a 22-1 clip at home. The Cougars take on the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, the Class A Advanced California League affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, in a 6:05 p.m. exhibition matchup on Tuesday, April 6, before resuming Golden State Athletic Conference play with a 4-game series against Fresno Pacific that begins with single games Wednesday and Thursday in Fresno.