CLAREMONT, Calif. -- Junior righthander Colby Gurney and 5 Azusa Pacific relievers combined for a 1-hit shutout in a 5-0 road win over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges Tuesday afternoon.
After walking Stags’ leadoff batter William Knowles, Gurney picked him off at second following a balk and retired 11 straight batters to conclude 4 hitless innings. Freshman righthander Jacob Cage tossed a hitless fifth, allowing 1 baserunner on an error, and Claremont registered its only hit of the afternoon in the sixth inning with Anthony Bouvier’s 1-out single to center off senior righthander Morgan Wynne.
Junior southpaw Tim Lu and senior righty Nolan Rudman fired consecutive perfect frames in the seventh and eighth innings, and sophomore righthander Jason Plowman finished things off by erasing a leadoff walk with a double-play grounder in a hitless ninth to complete the combined 1-hitter.
The 1-hitter was Azusa Pacific’s first since March 31, 2007, when Scott Hodsdon fired a near-perfect 7-inning complete-game gem in the nightcap of a Saturday doubleheader against San Diego Christian College. The Cougars, who tossed 7 2-hitters over the previous 3 seasons (2008-10), last combined for a 9-inning 1-hitter in 2006, an 11-1 non-conference victory over Fisher (Mass.).
Azusa Pacific’s last 1-hit shutout in a full 9-inning contest was nearly a decade ago, a 13-0 win over Westmont on April 13, 2002, when Matt Canada fired 8 innings of 1-hit ball and Mike Medlock finished off the shutout with a hitless ninth.
The Cougars generated all of the game’s scoring, and all but 4 of the hits in the contest, in the first 2 innings. Junior centerfielder Brent Warren drew a leadoff walk and eventually scored from third when senior leftfielder Josh Leite was caught stealing at second base, giving the Cougars an early 1-0 lead.
Warren also had a bunt single and scored Azusa Pacific’s final run in a 4-run second inning, 1 of 6 consecutive 2-out singles for the Cougars that pushed the lead to 5-0. Senior catcher Anthony Delgado singled through the right side to start the 2-out rally, and sophomore third baseman Brendan Casey followed with a single down the left field line.
Junior second baseman Sammy Soyring knocked them both in with a single to right, and Warren and junior shortstop Anthony Rodriguez loaded the bases with consecutive bunt singles. Leite’s 2-run single to right gave the Cougars a 5-0 margin, giving the pitching staff more than enough of a cushion to preserve the win. Only 3 Claremont hitters reached base after the opening frame, only 1 of which reached second base safely.
The victory in its road opener gives Azusa Pacific its fifth consecutive season with a 3-0 start to the campaign, while Claremont-Mudd-Scripps lost in its season opener. The Cougars host Patten University, an NAIA independent that competes in the NAIA West league-format grouping, in a 3-game weekend series that starts Friday with a single 3 p.m. contest and is followed by a Saturday doubleheader that gets underway at 11 a.m.