SANTA CLARITA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific suffered its fifth walkoff defeat in the month of April, its sixth this year, when Chris Talley’s 2-out RBI single to left broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift The Master’s College to a 4-3 win over the Cougars Wednesday afternoon.
Senior third baseman Ryan Delgado hit his Golden State Athletic Conference-leading 16th home run of the season, a game-tying solo shot to lead off the ninth inning. However, Pete Goeman led off the bottom of the ninth with a bunt single, stole second base and advanced to third on a 2-out passed ball. Talley’s single to left brought Goeman around to score, sending Azusa Pacific to 0-6 in walkoff games this season.
Delgado, who singled in the top of the first inning to extend his GSAC hitting streak to 20 games, has now homered in 4 consecutive games, and he was the only Cougar with multiple hits Wednesday afternoon. After plating a pair of runs on 3 first-inning hits, Azusa Pacific failed to register another hit until Delgado’s ninth-inning solo blast, a tape-measure shot well beyond the left-field fence.
Senior righthander Ryan Rosenhahn struck out 7 Mustang batters in 5.2 innings, but Zack Anderson surrendered just 3 hits with 5 strikeouts in a 6.2-inning start. Neither starter picked up a decision, as Mustang reliever Daniel Sheaffer picked up the win with 2.1 innings of relief in which the only damage was Delgado’s home run. The Cougar bullpen didn’t give up an earned run in 3 full innings of work from Tim Lu, Garrett Granitz and Cameron Ross.
The Cougars loaded the bases with 1 out in the top of the first inning on Delgado’s single, a leadoff infield single from freshman leftfielder Trevor Lothrop and an intentional walk with first base open to senior first baseman Brice Cutspec. After Anderson struck out Chris Feicht for the second out, junior centerfielder Josh Leite delivered a 2-run single to right-center for an early 2-0 lead.
The Master’s answered with single runs in the third, fifth and sixth innings. Shortstop Ben Ives, hitting in the ninth spot in the lineup, hit a solo home run to lead off the third inning and cut the lead to 2-1, and a leadoff single and stolen base from Goeman in the fifth eventually set up a sacrifice fly that tied the game at 2-2. An inning later, Goeman drove in the go-ahead run with a 2-out triple off Lu.
After Leite’s 2-run first-inning single, Anderson retired 18 consecutive batters until he issued a 2-out walk to freshman rightfielder Daniel Gonzales, which brought Sheaffer out of the Mustang bullpen. He induced an inning-ending flyout, and an inning later erased a leadoff walk with a fielder’s choice that turned into a double play when the Azusa Pacific baserunner was ruled to have interfered with the Mustangs’ double-play turn at second base.
With the loss, Azusa Pacific’s rapidly fading playoff hopes took another hit, along with any hopes of having a winning regular-season campaign. With 8 games remaining, the Cougars are now 16-25 overall and 9-20 in GSAC play, and they now sit 4 games behind sixth-place The Master’s, which improved to 20-21 overall and 13-16 GSAC.
The teams continue their 4-game series with a 3 p.m. matchup in Santa Clarita tomorrow (Thursday), followed by a noon doubleheader Saturday at the Cougar Baseball Complex. A 3-game winning streak against the Mustangs would put the Cougars just a game behind The Master’s heading into the final week of the regular season in the race for a berth in the 6-team GSAC Tournament field.