ATHERTON, Calif.-- After losing its first three road games of the season, and twice by two runs or less, it was nice for Azusa Pacific to be on the other side of things as the Cougars posted a dramatic come from behind 3-2 win over Menlo on Friday afternoon.
Azusa Pacific was trailing 2-1 with one out in the top of the 9th, but consecutive singles, followed by a two-RBI J.C. Aguayo double gave the Cougars a 3-2 lead. And that one-run cushion was all Alan Garcia would need as he turned down the Oaks in order to notch the save.
Colby Gurney pitched two strong innings of relief to get the win, while Michael Finnigan went six innings, allowing two runs on four hits. Menlo’s Derek Martinez struck out 10 batters, but couldn’t complete the game as he was chased out after Aguayo’s base-clearing double. Martinez had retired 12 consecutive batters at one point, but Jordan Leyland, who went 2-for-4 with a double, snapped the Cougars hitless streak in the 9th for the team’s 4th hit of the day.
“The guys did a good job of staying in there,” said head coach Paul Svagdis. ”It was the pitching that gave us a chance. We need to be able to hang around and our bullpen did a great job.”
The Cougars got on the board in the 2nd inning when Aguayo plated Leyland on a single to left field. But the Oaks came back to take a 2-1 lead in the 3rd inning and would hold onto it for almost the entirety of the afternoon.
In the top of the 9th Leyland got a one-out single and was replaced by Daris on the bases. Brent Warren followed up with another base knock to put the tying run on second base with Aguayo coming to the plate. Then, possibly the biggest play of the game was when Martinez put a ball in the dirt, allowing Daris and Warren to advance and to put the go-ahead run on second base and to keep the Cougars out of a double-play opportunity.
On the next pitch Aguayo took advantage with a base clearing double to give Azusa Pacific its first lead since the 2nd inning, but the senior pulled his hamstring on the play and was replaced by Tyler Putjenter.
In the bottom of the 9th Garcia came in for the save. The junior opened by getting the Oaks to chop-out at second, and followed that up with two straight strikeouts to put Menlo down in order and give the Cougars their first road win of the season.
Azusa Pacific will play Menlo again tomorrow at 11 a.m. before matching up with GSAC foe, Westmont, at 2:30 p.m.