Johnathan Erb's Home Run
RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif.-- Azusa Pacific’s exhibition with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ single-A affiliate, wasn’t exactly one for the history books, but that doesn't mean there weren't any memorable moments. With Azusa Pacific trailing 13-1 in the top of the 8th senior Johnathan Erb spiced things up with a towering two-run home run over the right field wall to highlight the Cougars’ night at the Epicenter.
Erb’s shot, which was hit so well that the Quakes’ right fielder barely budged from his stance, came after Ranch Cucamonga exploded for a 10-run 6th to extend their lead to 12-1 before tacking on another in the 7th to make it a 13-1 contest after Azusa Pacific kept it close through five frames.
“It just really made the night. For his dad to be the honorary coach and for him to hit the jack really lifted the spirits of the team in light of that 6th inning,” said head coach Paul Svagdis.
Erb, who went 2-for-4 with two RBIs in last year’s exhibition, followed suit with the same line as his father, George Erb, watched from the dugout as Azusa Pacific’s honorary coach. The rest of the Cougar lineup fared well with the wooden bats, registering 10 hits against Rancho Cucamonga’s pro staff.
“What a great experience for our guys. It’s a terrific opportunity to play against some great competition,” said Svagdis. “For our guys that have a chance to play at the next level it’s a big game for people to get a chance to see them swing a wood bat against professional talent. We’re very excited every chance we get to play the Quakes.”
Jordan Leyland, who will likely be handling a wooden stick in the professional ranks next year, recorded the Cougars’ first hit of the night on a hard grounder in the hole between second ant third in the 1st inning. He finished the day 1-for-2 with two runs, while J.C. Aguayo put together a 1-for-3 performance with Azusa Pacific’s first RBI of the night.
Sammy Soyring finished 1-for-2 while Brendan Casey, Anthony Rodriguez, Matt Page, and Danny Gonzales represented the infielders well with a hit apiece against the Quakes’ eight pitchers.
Azusa Pacific’s staff handed the ball to Noah Northrop to start the game and he allowed one run on one hit in the first inning to take the loss. Jesus Del Rosario relieved him in the 2nd and tossed three innings, allowing two hits and one run before Hunter Brown took over for him in the 5th. Brown pitched one perfect frame, making quick work of the Rancho Cucamonga bats.
In the 6th Tim Lu and Kyle Pine were the recipients of a game-changing rally from Rancho Cucamonga in the 6th as the Quakes broke the game wide open with a 10-run, nine-hit inning to push the lead to 12-1. Pine nearly escaped the frame unscathed with a one-hopper to second base for a potential inning-ending double-play, but the ball was just out of reach of the outstretched arms of Ryan Henley. Matt Winkler closed things out for the Cougars with two innings of work in which he allowed one run (unearned) and registered four strikeouts, including three straight in the bottom of the 8th.
Defensively Azusa Pacific looked sharp, led by multiple plays by Rodriguez at shortstop as the senior showed off his arm time after time with four assists. Brent Warren also made a nice grab, snagging a deep fly ball on the right field warning track with the wind blowing out and the sun in his eyes in the bottom of the 1st to help the Cougars escape with a one-run deficit.
The win was the Quakes’ sixth consecutive in the two teams’ seven game series. Last season Rancho Cucamonga escaped with a 6-4 win after the Cougars rallied late.
Azusa Pacific now has a quick turnaround as it faces Arizona Christian in a double header tomorrow in Phoenix, Ariz. before traveling to El Cajon for two games on Saturday against San Diego Christian. The Cougars then face the Hawks for a double-dip at home on Monday with the first pitch slated for noon.
In Other News
The Tampa Bay Rays recalled Azusa Pacific alum, Stephen Vogt to the opening day roster. The ’08 star will be the Rays’ backup catcher when Tampa Bay opens its 2012 campaign against the New York Yankees at 12:10 p.m. (PDT) on Friday.