ST. GEORGE, Utah -- A big second inning and a solid bullpen effort propelled Azusa Pacific to a 7-5 road win over NCAA Div. II Dixie State College for a 2-game series split Tuesday afternoon.
The Cougars got on the board first, scoring 4 runs on 6 straight singles in the top of the second. Senior DH Anthony Delgado started off the inning with a base hit, and Azusa Pacific went around the batting lineup to force a Dixie pitching change to get out of the inning.
Freshman centerfielder Matt Kimmel had the best game of his early Cougar career, going 3-for-4 with a double, 2 RBIs, 2 runs, and a walk,. Freshman catcher Matt Page went 2-for-4 and also drove in a pair of runs.
The 4-pitcher performance was started by junior RHP Ben Ruder, who left the game after 4 innings with a 6-4 lead. Ruder got off to a good start, pitched 2 hitless innings before Dixie’s Sam Friend hit a solo homer to right to spark a 2-run third for the Red Storm, who added another pair in the fourth.
The fast paced offensive start to the game was slowed by solid pitching performances from both sides in the middle innings. Junior LHP Tim Lu came on in relief with a runner on base and no outs in the bottom of the fifth, and he ended up allowing only one batter to reach base safely in his 2-inning stint. Senior RHP Nolan Rudman pitched the seventh and eighth innings, allowing 1 run on 1 hit, which pulled the Red Storm to within a run of the Cougars, who had led 6-0 after 2 innings.
In the top of the eighth inning, junior SS Anthony Rodriguezadvanced to third after his leadoff single followed by another single from junior 1B Jonathan Erb. A double steal play allowed Rodriguez to score an insurance run, making the score 7-5.
Sophomore Jason Plowman entered the game in the top of the ninth looking for his first save of the season. Although the first 2 Dixie batters reached on a single and walk, Plowman struck out the next 2 and got an inning-ending fielder’s choice grounder to second to close out the game and put the save under his belt.
With the win today that saved the 2-game series split, Azusa Pacific improves to 6-2 on the season. The Cougars will be back on the field in 2 days to host William Carey (Miss.) University in a 5 p.m. matchup Thursday evening.