Azusa Pacific defeated The Master’s College by a final tally of 3-2, riding the left arm of senior starter Peter Gehle for 7.2 innings of 1-run baseball before hanging on in the final at-bat for the victory.
Senior righthander Garrett Hodges started the bottom of the ninth with a 3-1 lead, putting the leadoff hitter on base with a hit-batsman that was followed by a single that put runners on the corners with nobody out. Hodges then gave up a sacrifice fly to Shane Murphy, scoring pinch-runner Jonathan Lutz to make the score 3-2. He got the next batter to pop out before giving up a single to pinch-hitter Andrew Work, putting the tying run on second base, but Ben Ives’ comebacker to Hodges ended the game and gave the senior righthander his first save of the season.
The Cougars drew blood first when junior catcher Anthony Delgado led off the third inning with a single and sophomore shortstop Sammy Soyring doubled to left field, placing runners on second and third with no out. Azusa Pacific cashed in the first run on freshman leftfielder Trevor Lothrop’s groundout, and senior third baseman Ryan Delgado produced his 50th run batted in of the season with a single that scored Soyring to give Gehle an early 2-run cushion.
Ryan Delgado had 2 hits on the day, extending his GSAC hitting streak to 21 games. Soyring also recorded a pair of hits, including his second home run of the season, a 1-out fifth-inning solo shot to left that pushed the lead to 3-0.
After The Master’s loaded the bases against him in the first inning, Gehle picked up the first of his 3 strikeouts. He didn’t allow another Mustangs baserunner to reach second base until Joe Zeller’s 1-out double in the sixth inning. The only 2 players who reached base against Gehle during that stretch were both erased on the basepaths, first a pickoff that retired Pete Goeman after a leadoff single in the third inning and a double-play grounder to second after Parker Price led off the fifth with a base hit.
The Master’s finally ended Gehle’s shutout performance in the sixth, when Zeller’s 1-out double led to him scoring on a 2-out single from Chris Talley. Gehle exited the game after issuing a 2-out walk in the bottom of the eighth inning, and junior righthander Michael Oeser induced an inning-ending popup to preserve the Cougars’ 3-1 lead.
Azusa Pacific left just 3 runners on base, scoring 3 runs on just 6 hits off Mustang starter Tyler Bersano, who struck out 10 with just 1 walk in the complete-game effort. It was the Cougars’ first win this season when they have been out-hit by the opponent, and it was just the second Azusa Pacific win in a 1-run game and the second win when the Cougars have scored 5 or fewer runs.
With the victory, Azusa Pacific improves to 17-25 on the season, 10-20 in GSAC play. The Master’s College falls to 20-22 overall, and 13-17 in GSAC play. The Cougars have 6 more conference games left and return to action for the home half of this week’s 4-game series against The Master’s with a doubleheader on Saturday, April 24 at noon.