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Making Them Pay

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Photo by Ken Williams
Matt Kimmel had another big day as he drove in four runs and tallied five hits.

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March 3, 2012
Chris Baker
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AZUSA, Calif.-- One thing’s becoming apparent about this years’ Azusa pacific baseball team: if you give the Cougars extra outs, they’ll make you pay. And that was no more evident than in today’s doubleheader sweep of Cal State San Marcos as the Cougars (Azusa Pacific edition) scored eight unearned runs to notch a 14-7 win before coming from behind in the bottom of the 6th in the second game to defeat San Marcos 3-2 to improve to 14-5 on the season.

In the first game Azusa Pacific scored 11 runs with two outs, another trademark of the team, as a costly error by San Marcos’ shortstop opened the floodgates for seven runs, six of which were unearned. Before that a flyball to no-man’s land in shallow right by J.C. Aguayo could have easily been caught, but miscommunication let the ball fall as two runs scored. Azusa Pacific went 8-for-15 with two outs as it made the most of its 12 hits to plate 14 while San Marcos got seven runs across on its 14 hits.

In the bottom of the 6th in the second game Jordan Leyand tied it up with a bomb to left field before Johnathan Erb reached on a bang-bang play at first base. From there Matt Kimmel registered his fifth hit of the day as he doubled to left field to put runners on second and third. The clutch hitting continued one out later when Brendan Casey singled up the middle with the infield in to give Azusa Pacific a 3-1 lead.

“We preach about the process to have a quality at bat. If all of the guys do that when a team makes a mistake, then you’re more likely to take advantage of that,” said head coach Paul Svagdis. “I just think the guys hung in there [in the second game]. Baseball is a game of attrition and you just need to hang in there long enough. I think that’s hopefully something the guys will feed off of.”

Azusa Pacific combined for 22 hits on the day while Casey and Kimmel each drove in a team-high four runs.

In the first game Aguayo got the start on the bump, but couldn’t get out of the 4th inning as Ben Ruder took over with two outs and two guys on. Ruder, who posted his third win of the season, got an inning-ending strikeout in the 4th and struck out three batters in 5.1 innings. He, however, gave up three late runs in the 9th inning and allowed nine hits.

Kimmel had four RBIs in the win, and made the defensive play of the game as he gunned out Anthony Renteria at the plate on a double to centerfield.

On the mound in the second game the Cougars got a good start from Michael Finnigan as he gave up just one run in four and two-thirds innings. He struck out five batters, but had control issues; walking two and being relived after beaning a pair of hitters in the 5th. Zach Hedges took over in the top of the 5th and struck out the first batter he faced with three straight strikes. Hedges stayed in through the sixth inning and didn’t allow a base runner.

Alan Garcia pitched the 7th inning, and struck out the side in a shaky final frame for his 7th save of the season. Garcia gave up one earned run, walked two batters, and gave up a hit before sealing the win by getting one of San Marcos’ best hitters, Austin Coleman, to strike out swinging. The win was Azusa Pacific’s seventh in the last eight and the fourth over San Marcos this season.

“We’re happy the guys are playing well and doing a good job,” said Svagdis. “They pitched well in that second game for us. Hedges came in and got a big out, and Garcia made it interesting in the 7th but it was nice to see him strike out the side.”

Next weekend Azusa Pacific takes on Fresno Pacific in a four-game series starting on Thursday at the Cougar Baseball Complex. Azusa Pacific is 8-1 at home this season, and hasn’t lost since suffering a 10-7 defeat to San Marcos in the teams’ doubleheader two weeks ago.