AZUSA, Calif.-- The rough home stretch continued for the Azusa Pacific baseball team on Thursday night, with the Cougars trailing from start to finish in a 15-4 loss to Biola. Azusa Pacific, which has now lost six consecutive games (all at home) gave up 15 runs for the second time this season, and saw the Biola offense record 13 hits and five extra-base hits.
The Eagles hit two home runs on the night, and got a two-run triple, while the Cougar offense mustered just seven hits and four runs after striking out 12 times in the game. The Cougar pitching staff, which has been decimated by injuries, saw two of their best starters take the mound on Thursday, and each of them overcame rough innings in their quest back from offseason injuries.
Zach Hedges, who went undefeated in 2012, gave up four runs in the first, but came back with a scoreless second inning, while Michael Finnigan was lights after getting settled in. After giving up two runs in the third, Finnigan allowed just one Biola hit over the next three frames to finish with four strikeouts in 3.2 innings of work, giving the Cougars hope that the staff can get back towards full strength.
Freshman Mitch Dergazarian made his first start in the field and led Azusa Pacific with two hits and two RBIs, while Matt Kimmel extended his RBI streak to six games, driving in one run after batting 1-for-4.
Biola took control of the game early, jumping out to a 4-0 lead on a two-run home run. The Eagles then stretched Azusa Pacific’s deficit to 10 runs in the third inning, getting six runs on just three hits. The Cougars got on the board in the bottom of the frame when Dergazarian scored Joseph Daris and Daniel Martin on a two-run single down the right field line after the two reached on consecutive base-hits.
After three scoreless innings Biola was at it again, scoring on a single down the right field line from Benji Sutherland, who extended his hitting streak to 13 games in the seventh. In the bottom of the inning Andrew Carillo knocked in Dusty Sanderson on an RBI double, before Kimmel plated Carillo on a groundout to make it an 11-4 game.
In the eighth Biola widened the gap to 11 runs, scoring four runs, two of which came on a two-run triple. The Eagles got hits in all but three innings, while the Cougars had six innings in which they failed to record a hit. Tyler Putjenter showed heart in the eighth when he ran full speed into the right field wall while chasing down a deep fly ball. He didn’t come up with the catch, but got an ovation from the Cougar dugout for his effort. Two batters later he made a leaping catch at the wall to get Azusa Pacific out of the inning.
Azusa Pacific will try to get out of its funk on Friday when it plays Biola in the second game of a four-game series. The first pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.