AZUSA, Calif.-- Sophomore Jacob Cage pitched six strong innings and Tyler Putjenter drove in the go-ahead run in the 8th inning as the Cougars defeated the Coyotes 2-1 on Friday afternoon.
The Azusa Pacific (2-1) pitching staff, which surrendered 12 runs in yesterday’s loss to CSUSB (1-1), was solid all day, allowing one run on seven hits. Colby Gurney threw two scoreless innings in relief to record the win, and Alan Garcia shut down the Coyotes in the 9th to earn his first save of the season. The Cougars’ staff was on point all game, walking just three batters and throwing 90 strikes on 138 pitches. Azusa Pacific also performed well in crunch time, stranding eight runners including Matt Haney, who threatened to tie the game after doubling with two outs in the top of the ninth inning.
“I was just proud of the team in general after bouncing back from yesterday’s game, particularly the pitchers. They were challenged going into today to throw strikes to keep the team in the game,” said head coach Paul Svagdis. “When you can keep putting zeroes up, especially at home, you feel like you have a shot.”
Matt Kimmel and Matt Page each went 2-for-3 while Jordan Leyland hit his third double of the season. The Coyotes got a gem of a performance from their starter Cory Caruso, as the 2011 MLB draftee struck out six batters in 7.2 innings. Caruso, however, took the loss when Putjenter, who was originally sent in the game to sacrifice Sammy Soyring to third base, got a two-strike base hit up the middle for the game-winning RBI.
“That wasn’t the plan, but that’s how baseball goes. He needs to execute better, that’s the reality, [and he knows that],” said Svagdis after Putjenter failed to get down the sacrifice bunt. “I’m happy for him because he’s one of our hardest working. Good things happen to good people and he’s one of those players you want it to happen to.”
The Cougars took a 1-0 lead in the 2nd inning when Brent Warren scored on a sac fly by Brendan Casey. Warren got on base on a fielder’s choice after Leyland was caught between second and third. Warren then advanced to third on Johnathan Erb’s single through the right side.
In the fourth inning Cage got himself in a jam, putting runners on the corners with two outs. But he was able to work his way out of it by getting a harmless flyout to right field. In the following inning the Coyotoes made their push. Darren Dworak opened the inning with a double off the left field wall and then advanced to third on a fly ball to right field. CSUSB then tied the game on a base hit up the middle.
The Coyotes continued to press, calling a perfectly timed hit and run that drew second baseman Ryan Henley towards the bag as the ball dribbled exactly where he was situated; nullifying a potential double play as the lead runner advanced to third. Cage, however, settled down after that, striking out the next batter before getting a pop out to right field to end the inning. Neither team threatened until the 8th inning when Putjenter put the Cougars ahead for good.
With the win Azusa Pacific moves to 2-1 on the season and have a chance to avenge yesterday’s tough 12-0 loss in the rubber game tomorrow afternoon back at Fiscalani Field in San Bernardino.