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Ring Answers The Call

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March 5, 2011
Joe Reinsch
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AZUSA, Calif. -- Senior outfielder Alex Ring delivered game-tying and game-winning hits in the same game on separate days, pushing a 2-out RBI single through the right side in the top of the 15th inning Saturday to lift Azusa Pacific to a 5-4 win over Biola in the second game of the week’s 4-game series, which started Thursday in La Mirada.

With the Cougars down to their final out in the ninth inning at Biola Thursday afternoon, it was Ring who hit a 2-out single through the right side that tied the game at 4-4 and sent the game to extra innings. After the next 5 innings failed to produce a winner, the game was suspended due to darkness after 14 innings with the completion taking place ahead of Saturday’s scheduled doubleheader between the teams.

Ring, who finished the game 5-for-7, saved Azusa Pacific from what would have been a very frustrating defeat, as the Cougars had 20 hits to Biola’s 10 but had left 19 runners on base in the first 12 innings of the game. Instead, the contest will be remembered as another classic chapter in Azusa Pacific’s rivalry with Biola – a 15-inning game that officially lasted just under 4 hours but took nearly 45 hours off the calendar from the opening pitch until the final out.

“What a day that was for Alex,” Cougar head coach Paul Svagdis. “He had 5 hits, tied the ballgame up for us in the ninth and then won it for us in the 15th, so he did a great job.”

With the win, Azusa Pacific improved to 9-8 overall and 2-4 in GSAC play, while Biola dropped to 8-7 overall, 2-2 GSAC. After the 1-inning completion of the suspended game, the teams continued with their regularly-scheduled GSAC doubleheader Saturday afternoon, splitting those games for a 2-2 series split.

“We would have liked to get all 3 games, of course, but the guys have done a good job all year of responding to adversity, and they did that again this week,” Svagdis said. “They had a tough game on Wednesday, and they had to scratch and crawl back in and battle throughout a number of things in Thursday’s game. They just hung in there, and to come out early and get a ball to fall through the hole for us was refreshing for the whole team.”

Both teams started the continuation of the game Saturday with the same pitchers who finished Thursday’s action, with Biola bringing back Jonathan Cade while Azusa Pacific continued with freshman righthander Jacob Cage. Junior first baseman Johnathan Erb led off the 15th inning with an infield single up the middle to diving Biola shortstop Boone Farrington, giving Erb his fifth hit of the game, as well.

Senior catcher Anthony Delgado sacrificed pinch-runner Joseph Daris to second, and sophomore leftfielder Trevor Lothrop’s groundout to second moved Daris to third base with 2 outs. With a 1-2 count, Ring sliced a grounder just underneath the glove of Biola second baseman Garrett Leon to bring Daris home with the game-winning hit.

“It was a nice offensive inning, because we executed it right,” Svagdis said. “We got a single, bunted him over to second, had a grounder to the right side to move him to third and got a 2-strike hit out of Ring.”

After giving up a 2-out single to Vinnie Fayard, Cage induced a game-ending groundout back to the mound to seal the 5-4 win and send the Cougars into the doubleheader with a split of the 2 weekday games at Biola. Cage improved to 2-3 on the year with 2 innings of scoreless relief, and he ended up starting the opening game of Saturday’s doubleheader.

Biola took a 3-0 lead within the first 3 innings Thursday, scoring once in the second and twice in the third, but Azusa Pacific’s pitching staff gave up just 1 more run over the next 12 innings. In the top of the fifth, Erb hit a 1-out solo home run to straightaway center, and Ring hit a 2-out RBI double later in the frame to cut the lead to 3-2. Ring then led off the eighth with a single, later scoring to tie the game at 3-3 on freshman Matt Page’s pinch-hit single through the right side. Biola regained the lead in the bottom of the eighth, when Drake Fages hit a 2-out single, stole second, and scored when Garrett Leon made contact with a 3-0 pitch that blooped just over the right side of the Cougar infield.

That made it a 4-3 game heading into the Cougars’ final turn at bat, but junior second baseman Sammy Soyring got a ninth-inning rally started with a leadoff single. Delgado added a 1-out single, 1 of 3 hits for him in the game, but another strikeout brought Ring to the plate with runners on first and second with 2 outs. Ring was down to his final strike in that at-bat, too, hitting the 2-2 pitch for the game-tying RBI single.

Azusa Pacific left the bases loaded in the 11th and 12th innings, and the Cougars recorded a hit in all but 1 of the 15 innings of the contest. The 5-hit performances from Erb and Ring, plus a 3-for-6 effort from Delgado, provided the majority of Azusa Pacific’s final 20-hit total. The Cougars left 20 runners on base in the game, while Biola left 9 on base and scored its 4 runs on 10 Eagle hits. Fages was the Eagles’ offensive leader, going 3-for-6, while Farrington went 2-for-5 and was the only other player with multiple hits for Biola.