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A Split That Fits

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May 1, 2010
Joe Reinsch
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AZUSA, Calif. -- After exploding for 18 runs in the first 6 innings of the first game, the Cougars were held to just 1 run the rest of the day, finishing the 2010 season with an 18-4 win and a 2-1 defeat in a Golden State Athletic Conference doubleheader split at Westmont Saturday afternoon.

Senior infielder Ryan Delgado, the GSAC’s batting average and home runs leader in conference play, extended his conference hitting streak to 26 games with a solo home run to lead off the third inning of the first game. He went 4-for-5 with 2 doubles and a pair of home runs, pushing his season home run total to an NAIA-leading 22. His conference hitting streak was snapped in the second game, as Westmont starter Timothy Leary limited Azusa Pacific to just 4 hits in the 7-inning nightcap.

The Cougars never trailed in the first game, with senior first baseman Brice Cutspec’s 2-run shot to left sparking a 4-run outburst, all with 2 outs in the first inning. Freshman rightfielder Jason Plowman added a 2-run shot in the first, the first of 3 extra-base hits for him that included a pair of opposite-field home runs. Leary, the Warriors’ first-game designated hitter, answered with a 2-run homer himself, part of a 3-run response from Westmont that trimmed the lead to 4-3 after just 1 inning.

After a scoreless second, Azusa Pacific scored in each of the next 4 innings, including a 9-run fifth. Delgado drove in runs in all 4 of the innings, leading off the third with a solo home run, knocking in a run with a 2-out double in the fourth, picking up another RBI double in the fifth and finishing with a 2-ou, 2-run home run in the sixth.

Eleven of the Cougars’ 18 hits went for extra bases, including 6 home runs. In addition to 2 homers each from Delgado and Plowman, along with Cutspec’s 2-run blast, junior leftfielder Anthony Delgado slammed a 2-out, 3-run shot that gave Azusa Pacific a 16-3 lead and cap the 9-run explosion in the fifth. Cutspec was 2-for-3, adding a double, and his 16th home run of the season capped his NAIA-record career home run total at 77.

Sophomore lefthander Tim Lu took over on the mound after senior righthander Scott Sakoda surrendered 3 runs on 5 hits in the first inning of his second collegiate start. Lu went the final 8 innings, limiting the Warriors to just 1 run on 7 hits and a walk to pick up his second win of the season. It was Lu’s second impressive performance against Westmont in the week’s 4-game series after he worked out of a bases-loaded, 1-out jam in Thursday’s series opener by retiring 5 straight batters for the save. Over the final 3 weeks of the season, Lu allowed just 4 runs on 17 hits with 11 strikeouts and 2 walks in 22 innings, and he had a hand in 4 Azusa Pacific victories, posting 2 wins and 2 saves over the final stretch.

In the nightcap, senior righthander Garrett Hodges turned in his season’s best work, tossing a complete-game 2-hitter. Hodges gave up 2 runs, only 1 of them earned, and he struck out 5 while issuing a pair of walks. One of the walks ended a string of 10 straight outs to start the game, but Hodges immediately erased it with an inning-ending double play in the fourth that kept the game scoreless heading into the final 3 frames of the 7-inning nightcap.

A 2-out error with runners on first and third in the fifth cost Azusa Pacific a run, but the Cougars answered in the sixth to tie the game at 1-1 on freshman leftfielder Trevor Lothrop’s 1-out run-scoring single up the middle. Anthony Delgado led off the sixth with a single to right, and his courtesy runner Carlos Maddox stole second and advanced to third on a groundout. After delivering the game-tying base hit to score Maddox, Lothrop stole second to put the go-ahead run in scoring position with 1 out. The next 2 batters each flew out into the outfield to leave Lothrop stranded at second.

Westmont pulled back ahead by a run when Leary helped his own cause with a 2-out home run to center. Senior designated hitter Chris Feicht, who hit a 1-out double in the second before Leary retired 11 straight Cougars, again delivered a 1-out hit, this time a single to center. Feicht moved into scoring position with 1 out for the second time in the game when junior centerfielder Josh Leite was hit by pitch. However, Leary struck out freshman rightfielder Daniel Gonzales for the second out before a lineout to right ended the game with the potential tying and go-ahead runs on base.

The split ends Azusa Pacific’s 2010 campaign with a 20-29 overall record, notching the program’s 24th consecutive 20-win season. The Cougars finished in eighth place in the GSAC with a 13-23 conference mark.