AZUSA, Calif. -- Less than 24 hours after pulling off a ninth-inning rally for a walkoff victory, Azusa Pacific surrendered a ninth-inning lead when The Master’s exploded for a 6-run, 5-hit inning to post an 8-3 win over the Cougars Thursday afternoon.
Mustang starter Tyler Bersano held Azusa Pacific scoreless until the fifth, when junior second baseman Sammy Soyring hit a 1-out single through the right side of the infield to tie the game at 1-1. An inning later, senior centerfielder Alex Ring smashed a leadoff home run down the left-field line to give the Cougars a 2-1 lead, and later in the sixth senior catcher Anthony Delgado doubled to set up another run on junior leftfielder Brent Warren’s RBI single through the right side.
The Master’s got a run back in the seventh, turning a leadoff walk into a run that cut Azusa Pacific’s lead to 3-2 after a wild pitch was followed by an RBI single from Spencer Downs. Downs registered a game-high 3 hits, and he was hit by pitch with the bases loaded in the ninth to bring in the game-tying run. The next batter, J.T. Adams, worked the count full before drawing a bases-loaded walk for the game-winning RBI.
The Mustangs didn’t stop there, adding 4 more runs on 2-run singles from Chris Talley and Bryan Mitchell. Cody Harris, the regular third baseman who took over on the mound for Bersano after 7 innings, hit an infield single to lead off the ninth, and he later scored the game-tying run. Harris retired 6 of the 7 batters, despite entering the game with the highest ERA (11.57) of any Mustang pitcher.
Ring’s home run extended his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games, the longest for any Cougar hitter this year, and Thursday marked the first game of the year Azusa Pacific lost a game it led after 7 innings. It took 3 different pitchers to get the Cougars out of the ninth inning, and the first 2 faced a combined 5 batters without recording an out.
Every Mustang hitter in the game reached base safely, with 8 starters recording at least 1 hit while the only hitless player drew a pair of walks. Downs hit a leadoff single in the third inning for The Master’s, and he scored from second base with 2 outs on what should have been an inning-ending groundout to shortstop, but the throw short-hopped the Cougar first baseman for a costly error that gave the Mustangs an early 1-0 lead.
The defeat dropped Azusa Pacific back into a fourth-place tie with Point Loma Nazarene in the GSAC standings, giving the Cougars a 23-17 overall and 16-13 GSAC record. The Master’s improves to 21-20 overall, 12-16 GSAC, and the Mustangs are 2 games behind sixth-place Concordia with 7 games remaining. The top 6 in the final standings advance to the GSAC Postseason Tournament, which will he hosted by the regular-season conference champion the first week of May.
The 4-game GSAC series wraps up Saturday with a noon doubleheader at The Master’s College in Santa Clarita.