RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. -- Seven different Azusa Pacific pitchers combined for nearly 7 innings of shutout baseball until Rancho Cucamonga Quakes second baseman Alexi Amarista delivered a walkoff RBI double to capitalize on a Cougar error earlier in the frame for the 1-0 Quakes win.
Each team had managed just 2 hits to that point, with Azusa Pacific getting singles from senior first baseman Brice Cutspec and junior centerfielder Josh Leite. However, it was the Cougar pitching staff that limited the minor-league prospects of the Quakes’ MLB affiliate Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to a pair of singles through the first 6 innings of the scheduled 7-inning exhibition contest.
Rancho Cucamonga catcher Beau Brooks led off the seventh with a pop fly high above third base, reaching and advancing to second on the dropped-fly fielding error. After Darwin Perez was called out for stepping on the plate on a sacrifice bunt attempt, Amarista stepped to the plate and drove Sakoda’s full-count offering into the right-center field gap for the game-winning RBI double.
The Quakes were retired in order twice in the 7-inning contest, with freshman Cameron Ross striking out 2 in a 1-2-3 second before fellow freshman righthander Phillip Gonzalez induced 3 consecutive groundouts around the infield in the third inning. Sophomore Noah Northrop got the start, walking the bases loaded with 2 outs in the first inning before getting out of the jam with a groundout back to the mound.
Sophomore Joe Karlik surrendered a leadoff single in the fourth, but he retired the next 2 batters. He then took advantage of a baserunning mistake by Gabriel Jacobo, stepping off the mound and firing to second to erase Jacobo, who broke for second base before Karlik had begun his delivery to the plate.
Sophomore Tommy Gonzales issued a walk to lead off the fifth inning, gave up a 1-out bunt single and then walked the bases loaded with 2 outs before escaping the jam with a groundout to third base. Junior Patrick Vandehey issued 2 walks and 2 wild pitches in the sixth, but junior catcher Anthony Delgado erased the leadoff batter on an attempted steal of third base for the first out. Vandehey struck out Angel Castillo for the second out, then got an inning-ending grounder to second base to send the game to the seventh inning in a scoreless tie.
Azusa Pacific has lost 3 straight and is now 1-4 in the 5-game exhibition series history against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. The Cougars get right back into action, returning to Golden State Athletic Conference play with a crucial 4-game series with the NAIA’s No.21-ranked Fresno Pacific that opens with a 6 p.m. matchup against the Sunbirds in Fresno on Wednesday, April 7.