AZUSA, Calif.-- The NAIA’s No. 5 ranked Azusa Pacific registered its 12th straight home win, blasting Vanguard 17-4 behind the arm of Zach Hedges and a season-high six home runs. The Cougars got homers from six different players and reached the 20-hit plateau for the second time this year as they improved to 10-0 at home in Golden State Athletic Conference play.
Leadoff hitter Sammy Soyring had a game-high four hits, while Jordan Leyland and Matt Kimmel each went 2-for-3 with a home run. Anthony Rodriguez hit his first homer of the year and drove in four runs, as J.C. Aguayo and Brent Warren had a home run and two RBIs apiece. Johnathan Erb went 3-for-5 in the rout, and was one of seven Cougars to finish with multiple hits as Azusa Pacific surpassed the 10-run mark for the 13th time this season.
And while the NAIA’s 9th highest scoring offense continued to light up the scoreboard, the Cougar pitching staff kept Vanguard (14-13; 5-11) in check. Hedges tossed seven innings and allowed two earned runs despite not recording a strikeout as the freshman moved to 4-0 on the season. He had six scoreless frames and gave up all of his runs, and half of his hits, in the 4th inning when the Lions got three runs across on four hits and a Cougar error. Cameron Ross relieved Hedges in the 8th and gave up a cheap run in the 9th before the Cougars improved to 17-0 in games where they don’t allow a home run.
Azusa Pacific opened the scoring when Soyring crossed home plate on a wild pitch in the 1st inning. The Cougars then used an eight-run, seven-hit 3rd inning to take a commanding 9-0 lead. In the frame Leyland belted a 1-2 offering over the wall in left-center to score three runs, before Aguayo hit a two-run homer to left. In the at bat Aguayo fouled off four full-count pitches, with one of them shattering a light (ala ‘The Natural’) before he sent his fourth home run over the wall.
In the next inning Kimmel blasted a two-run home run into the right filed net before Rodriguez connected on his first home run of the year, a three-run shot over the left-center wall to put the Cougars ahead 14-3. Azusa Pacific would add a run in the 7th on an RBI single from Kimmel, and then two more in the 8th with a pinch hit bomb from Trevor Lothrop before Warren hit a home run in his second straight game to cap the scoring at 17.
The victory put Azusa Pacific in position for its 5th straight GSAC series win headed into tomorrow’s doubleheader in Costa Mesa, which starts at noon. Azusa Pacific holds a 3.5 game over second place Concordia and a 5.5 game edge over third place Biola in the conference standings.