AZUSA, Calif.-- The Cougars kept on rolling as the NAIA’s 4th ranked team scored 11 runs on 15 hits to power past Cal Poly Pomona in a rain-delayed makeup game on Tuesday night. Azusa Pacific (34-8), which reached the 10-run plateau for the 15th time this season, scored in each of the first four frames to take a commanding 9-2 lead before posting an 11-4 victory over the Broncos after an eight day layoff.
“You’re always a little worried when you take a break like that, and that’s why the game this week was really helpful,” said head coach Paul Svagdis. “We wanted to get in the competitive situation with a really good team like Cal Poly before we had to play a really tough team like Westmont. The timing of this game really worked well for us. I was very pleased all the way around.”
Sammy Soyring, who has been more accustomed to setting the table for the meat of the Cougar order, opened the scoring with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the 1st for his first of three hits on the night. Soyring went 3-4 from the plate and was a triple away from hitting for the cycle. Brent Warren also notched three hits in the win to go with one run, one RBI, and one stolen base.
Matt Kimmel went 2-for-4 with a triple and Anthony Rodriguez finished 2-for-3 with two runs, a walk, and an RBI in the win. Joseph Daris and Brendan Casey each had two RBIs and a double, while J.C. Aguayo was strong on both sides of the ball.
Aguayo, who made his fifth start this season on the mound, registered two doubles and an RBI while tossing four innings from the bump. The senior pitcher allowed two earned runs on three hits while striking out four Bronco batters before handing the ball to the bullpen, which allowed just two hits over the next five frames.
“I thought the pitching overall was really good tonight. I was very pleased with our bullpen, Del Rosario and Winkler in particular,” said Svagdis.
Jason Plowman relieved Aguayo in the 5th and gave up one harmless hit in the inning before giving way to Jesus Del Rosario in the 6th. Following a perfect inning from Del Rosario Matt Winkler entered in the 7th and was dominant. The junior right hander struck out three consecutive Bronco batters (all swinging) in one inning of work to tally his first win of the season.
Colby Gurney took over in the 8th and gave up one hit before Alan Garica ran into a bit of trouble in the 9th as Cal Poly Pomona crossed home plate twice on a throwing error by Casey after Azusa Pacific had put the game out of reach. The Azusa Pacific pitchers struck out 10 hitters and gave up just three walks while stranding five Bronco runners.
Tonight’s victory was Azusa Pacific’s 19th in 20 home games this year, which bodes well for the Cougars after they received word that should they receive an at-large bid for the NAIA National Baseball Championship they’d be fighting for one of 10 spots in the 2012 Avista-NAIA World Series at home on May 10-14. Azusa Pacific was one of nine sites nationally to be selected to host a five-team double-elimination opening round.
With just eight regular season games left this year the Cougars now shift their focus to Westmont as the two schools begin a four-game series on Thursday night in Azusa. The two teams met once already this year in a non-conference contest in Atherton where Azusa Pacific won 14-5 behind Kimmel’s 4-for-4 three RBI performance.