ST. GEORGE, Utah -- Junior righthander Colby Gurney took a no-hitter into the sixth inning for Azusa Pacific, but Dixie State (Utah) College broke it up with a bunt single that sparked a 2-run rally as the Red Storm held on for a 2-1 win over the Cougars in the first of a 2-game series between the teams.
Gurney’s first 5 no-hit innings gave him 9 consecutive innings of hitless pitching, as he fired 4 hitless frames in last week’s road win at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, but after issuing a 1-out sixth-inning walk to Quinn Boyer, Red Storm third baseman Colton Yack broke up the no-hitter with a perfect bunt single down the third-base line. Both Boyer and Yack scored just 2 pitches later on catcher Joe Andrade lined an 0-1 pitch down the right-field line for a 2-run double.
All the runs in the game came in the sixth, with Azusa Pacific breaking up the scoreless game in the top of the inning after 5 scoreless innings for both teams. Junior first baseman Johnathan Erb doubled to right-center with 1 out, then moved to third and scored on wild pitches from Red Storm starter Mike Dedrick.
Dedrick struck out the next batter before walking sophomore leftfielder Trevor Lothrop on 4 pitches to end his afternoon. Dixie State reliever Jordan Blanchard gave up a 2-out single to senior catcher Anthony Delgado, who singled in each of his first 3 at-bats and advanced to second on the throw from the outfield to put runners at second and third for the Cougars. Blanchard induced an inning-ending popup to limit the damage to a 1-0 deficit heading into the bottom of the sixth.
The Cougars also threatened in the fifth and ninth innings, leaving the bases loaded in both instances. In the fifth, Lothrop and Delgado led off with back-to-back singles, and a sacrifice bunt and hit-batsman loaded the bases with 1 out. Dedrick was able to induce a fielder’s choice grounder to first that forced Lothrop out at home before ending the threat by striking out junior centerfielder Brent Warren.
A pair of ninth-inning walks around junior second baseman Sammy Soyring’s 2-out single to right-center loaded the bases in the top of the ninth, but another groundout ended the Azusa Pacific rally with the tying run just 90 feet away.
Gurney fired a scoreless seventh, finishing the game with a final pitching line of 2 runs on 3 hits, with 2 walks and 4 strikeouts in 7 innings. Delgado was 3-for-4 with hits in his first 3 plate appearances, and Erb had the Cougars’ only extra-base hit with his sixth-inning double.
With the loss, Azusa Pacific drops to 5-2 overall heading into the second game of the 2-day series with Dixie State, which is 1-0 and wins its season opener for the second consecutive season. The teams match up again at 1 p.m. (MST) on Tuesday, Feb. 8, at Bruce Hurst Field in St. George, Utah. Dixie State offers live stats and a live radio broadcast, which can be accessed through the following links: