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Long Ball Elevates Cougars

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Photo by Ken Williams
J.C. Aguayo hit two home runs and registered seven RBIs on Monday.

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April 9, 2012
Chris Baker
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AZUSA, Calif.-- The NAIA’s 5th ranked Azusa Pacific scored 30 runs to go with 36 hits, finishing off its sweep of San Diego Christian with two more wins on Monday afternoon. The Cougars blasted five home runs, two apiece from J.C. Aguayo and Johnathan Erb, and tallied 13 extra base hits between a 13-9 win and a 17-8 victory over the Hawks as they won their seventh straight Golden State Athletic Conference series and notched their third sweep of the season.

Eight Azusa Pacific (33-8; 21-3) batters recorded multiple hits with five tabbing four or more RBIs, led by Erb and Aguayo who combined for 14. Erb went 4-for-9 on the day, hitting a home run in each contest to drive in seven runs, while Aguayo went 4-for-8 with two bombs and seven RBIs. The two were also a part of the Cougars’ eight-run 6th inning where they each hit one of Azusa Pacific’s three home runs in a frame that broke the first game wide open.

Jordan Leyland netted five hits and scored six runs, while Matt Kimmel batted 6-for-9 with two doubles. Brendan Casey added to the offensive barrage, hitting his sixth home run of the season, while Brent Warren crossed home plate six times after getting on base eight times, giving starters Zach Hedges and Jacob Cage more than enough support to grab their fifth and sixth win respectively.

Hedges, who gave up his first home run of the season, struck out five batters while allowing six earned runs in 4.2 innings. Cage pitched well for most of his seven innings, giving up three runs through the first seven frames before allowing four earned runs without recording an out in the 8th. The sophomore struck out four batters and didn’t give up a walk.

San Diego Christian (17-26; 9-15), which boasts the GSAC’s lowest scoring offense, exploded for 17 runs just two days after struggling to score four when the two teams opened their series on Saturday. Victor Martinez recorded a team-high six RBIs and went for the cycle between the two games after going 5-for-8.

Sammy Soyring, who had a productive day, scoring four runs with two hits, opened the scoring when Kimmel drove him in on a single to left in the bottom of the 1st before Leyland gave the Cougars an early 2-0 edge when he scored after Casey was beaned with the bases loaded. Soyring then started a mini two-out rally in the bottom of the 2nd, smacking a double down the left field line before scoring on a single by Leyland to make it a 3-0 contest.

In the top of the 3rd the Hawks got to Cage, scoring once before Martinez tacked on two more with a homer into the right field net to knot it at 3-3. In the bottom of the 5th Azusa Pacific regained the lead on a two-out double from Matt Page.

Then in the bottom of the 6th the Cougars turned a one-run game into a blowout, scoring eight runs before registering an out. Anthony Rodriguez, who finished with three runs and two hits, opened the inning with a walk before Soyring followed suit with one of his own. Warren then tried to sacrifice both runners over, but San Diego Christian’s Adair Robles made an errant throw to third base after fielding the bunt, allowing two runners to score.

After a Leyland walk put runners on first and third Erb crushed a home run over the right field wall to put the Cougars ahead 9-3. Kimmel continued the rally with a single to left field before Aguayo and Casey hit back-to-back home runs to put the game out of reach with Azusa Pacific leading 12-3.

The Cougars tacked on another run in the 7th on a Leyland double, and San Diego Christian gave Azusa Pacific a mini-scare with four runs in the 8th and two more in the 9th but the Hawks eventually came away with their seventh straight loss to the Cougars.

In game two San Diego Christian opened the scoring, tagging Hedges for two runs on three hits in the top of the 1st. But the Azusa Pacific offense quickly picked up the freshman righty, scoring four runs on five hits, highlighted by a 3-run blast from Aguayo.

In the top of the 2nd Martinez hit a home run to right center to make it a 4-3 ballgame, but the Cougars responded again, plating four more in the bottom of the frame. Rodriguez tabbed a leadoff single before Erb notched a bases loaded single to score him. Then with two outs and the bases juiced Aguayo drove in two more runs on a line drive to center before Casey added to the 7-3 lead with an RBI single to left.

In the bottom of the 3rd Rodriguez excelled in the leadoff role again, opening the inning with a single up the middle. After a Soyring base hit Warren squeezed Rodriguez home before Leyland hit his second double of the game to score another Cougar run. With one out Kimmel hit a sac fly to plate Leyland to give Azusa Pacific an 11-3 edge.

In the top of the 5th the Hawks got to Hedges for four runs and five hits to cut their deficit to 11-7, but the high-powered Cougar offense struck again with four more runs in the bottom of the inning. Erb did most of the damage, launching a three-run home run to right field, while Casey doubled down the left field line to give Azusa Pacific another run.

The Cougars added two more runs in the top of the 6th with RBIs from Kimmel and Leyland and the Hawks added one in the top of the 7th before falling 17-8. Jason Plowman tossed 1.1 innings of perfect ball, while Alan Garcia, pitching in a non-save situation, allowed one run in one inning.

With the sweep the Cougars moved 5.5 games up on second place Concordia on the GSAC race, cutting their magic number down to four for the conference crown. Azusa Pacific, which has just eight GSAC games left, takes an eight day break before taking on Cal Poly Pomona in a rain-delayed makeup next Tuesday.