AZUSA, Calif. -- For the second day in a row, Azusa Pacific defeated the NAIA’s No. 8-ranked Point Loma Nazarene, winning 9-3 Thursday evening in Azusa to send the Sea Lions to their seventh loss in 8 games.
The Cougars took an early lead, loading the bases in each of the first 2 innings and cashing in a pair of runs. The first came on freshman catcher Matt Page’s first-inning sacrifice fly to left field, and senior rightfielder Josh Leite put the ball in play with the bases loaded in the second inning, grounding out to score sophomore third baseman Jeff West to make it a 2-0 Cougar lead.
Point Loma Nazarene got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth when third baseman Shain Stoner hit a leadoff single to left field and first baseman Edgar Molina drew a walk. Stoner and Molina advanced to second and third on a wild pitch from senior righthander Morgan Wynne, although Wynne struck out left fielder Rashad Taylor for the first out. Shortstop Clinton Harwick singled to left center, scoring both Stone and Morgan. A bobble in handling the base hit moved Harwick to second on the error, and Wynne responded with another strikeout, this one against catcher Kyle Cameron. Second baseman Tyler Kuehl hit a single to left field, scoring Harwick from second to give Point Loma Nazarene a 3-2 lead.
Azusa Pacific struck back in the home half of the fourth, although the first 2 batters of the inning were retired. Redshirt freshman second baseman Sam Murphy was hit by the first pitch of his at-bat, and he stole second for 1 of the Cougars’ 5 stolen bases in the game. Junior shortstop Anthony Rodriguez’s single through the right side scored Murphy from second to tie the game at 3-3, and Leite followed suit with an RBI single to center to give Azusa Pacific the lead for good, 4-3.
The Cougars added 1 more run in the fifth, 3 in the seventh, and another in the eighth for the final 9-3 margin.
Freshman Matt Kimmel went 2-for-4 with a team-high 3 RBIs to help lead Azusa Pacific’s 16-hit evening. Junior first baseman Johnathan Erb was 3-for-4 with an RBI, and Leite, Kimmel, Murphy, and Rodriguez had 2 hits each, part of an impressive offensive display in which all 9 Cougar starters hit safely.
Wynne pitched 5 effective innings allowing 3 runs, 2 earned, on 7 hits with 2 walks and 8 strikeouts to receive the win and improve his season record to 2-1. Sophomore Cameron Ross pitched 3 shutout innings, scattering 3 hits and striking out a pair. Senior righthander Nolan Rudman pitched the final inning of the game, striking out the final batter to win the game.
With a sweep of the mid-week home games against Point Loma Nazarene, Azusa Pacific improves to 14-11 overall while bringing its GSAC record to .500 at 7-7. Point Loma Nazarene drops to 10-10 overall, 6-7 in GSAC play. The 4-game series wraps up Saturday with an 11 a.m. doubleheader in San Diego.