HAYWARD, Calif.-- It wasn’t the way Azusa Pacific wanted to open its four game swing in the bay area, especially after creating the amount of chances it did in a 6-5 loss to Cal State East Bay on Thursday afternoon.
While trailing 6-3 in the top of the 8th inning the Cougars loaded the bases with no outs. But a rally-killing double play, followed by a strikeout ended the threat with the Cougars plating just one run. Then in the top of the 9th, down by two runs, the Cougars put runners on the corners and eventually scored on a wild pitch with one out. But a groundout, followed by a flyout ended the game with the Pioneers breathing a major sigh of relief.
Azusa Pacific (2-3) tallied eight hits on the day, led by Johnathan Erb’s 2-for-4, two RBI performance. But the Cougars managed just two extra base hits to go with its five walks, and left seven runners on base.
Jacob Cage, coming off a brilliant start against Cal State San Bernardino last Friday, gave up six earned runs on nine hits in six and two-thirds innings of work. The sophomore, who allowed three runs in the opening inning (all with two outs), had strung together four straight scoreless frames before getting tagged for two in the 6th was chased out of the 7th inning after an RBI double by Bryson Nakamura. Cage gave up four doubles and a homer, and struck out five batters while walking just two.
Jason Plowman pitched one and a third innings of relief without allowing a Cal State East Bay batter reach base to give the Cougars a chance to win late.
Cal State East Bay (1-1) got three runs on the board in the first inning despite opening with two quick outs. The Pioneers, however, ignited a two-out rally with a two consecutive singles followed by a walk to load the bags. Jordan Wilder then hit a base-clearing double, but was thrown out by Jason Leyland while trying to advance to third.
After the first frame neither team put up a big threat until the 5th inning when Brendan Casey hit a one-out bomb over the center field fence. Anthony Rodriguez then singled to left field, and reached second base after the Pioneers walked Matt Kimmel. A wild pitch put Rodriguez on third before Erb double to center field to tie the game a 3-3.
But Cal State East Bay regained the lead in the bottom of the 6th when Kyle Zozaya blasted a home run to left center, and the Pioneers padded its lead with a Nakamura double.
The 8th inning saw consecutive singles from Erb, Leyland, and Brent Warren to load the bases with nobody out. But J.C. Aguayo grounded into a 6-4-3 double play and Richie Brown grounded to the pitcher to end the inning with Azusa Pacific scoring just one run to trail 6-4.
In the 9th Rodriguez hit a one-out double down the right field line and then advanced to third after Kimmel reached on an error. A wild pitch plated Rodriguez, and put the game-tying run on second, but Soyring grounded out before Erb ended the game with a flyout to right field as the Cougars dropped to 0-3 in road games this season.
Azusa Pacific will have a chance to buck that trend with an 11 a.m. start tomorrow at Menlo.