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A Grand Split

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February 5, 2011
Joe Reinsch
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AZUSA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific tagged Patten pitchers for a season-high 17 runs in the opening game of Saturday’s doubleheader, but the Cougars never solved Lions lefthander Jesus Berduzco in a 2-1 defeat in the 7-inning nightcap.

Junior first baseman Johnathan Erb, senior outfielder Josh Leite, and sophomore outfielder Trevor Lothrop each homered in the opener. Erb got the Cougars on the board in the bottom of the first with a 3-run shot to right, and Leite and Lothrop both went deep in a run of 8 consecutive Cougar hits in an 8-run eighth. Leite’s was the first of 8 hits in a row, a 2-run blast that pushed the lead to 11-3, and Lothrop followed 3 singles with a grand slam, his first collegiate home run, that extended the lead to 15-3.

Erb was 2-for-2 with a pair of walks to lead the Azusa Pacific offense in the opener, and 6 of the Cougars’ 15 hits in the game came off the bench. Sophomore righthander Cameron Ross scattered 3 runs (2 earned) on 9 hits over 6 innings to collect the win and improve to 2-0 on the season.

Azusa Pacific got the early lead in the second game, as well, with sophomore second baseman Ryan Henley’s sacrifice fly to right scoring Erb from third in the bottom of the second for a 1-0 lead. Patten got 2 runs back to take its first lead of the day with a 2-run fourth, scoring both runs with 2 outs off freshman righthander Jacob Cage, who was otherwise impressive in his first collegiate start. Cage struck out 5 and gave up 2 runs on 6 hits in 6.1 innings of work.

Sophomore Jason Plowman drew a 1-out walk in the bottom of the fourth from Patten southpaw Jesus Berduzco. After Erb struck out for the second out, it appeared that Plowman moved into scoring position on an errant pickoff throw from Berduzco that sailed several feet over the first baseman’s head. However, a curious runner’s interference call by the field umpire resulted in the third out of the inning and a missed opportunity for the Cougars to hit with a runner in scoring position.

Berduzco allowed 7 baserunners in all, scattering 4 hits, walking 2 and hitting another, and he struck out 5 batters in the 7-inning complete-game victory. Alberto Gonzalez was 2-for-3, and it was his leadoff double in the fourth that got Patten’s 2-run frame going.

With the split, Azusa Pacific’s season-opening 5-game winning streak is snapped, and the Cougars are now 5-1 on the year. Patten, which also lost 2 of 3 at The Master’s last week, drops 2 of 3 in the weekend series in Azusa to fall to 2-4 overall.

Up next on Azusa Pacific’s schedule is a 2-game road set, Feb. 7-8, at NCAA Div. II Dixie State College in St. George, Utah.