AZUSA, Calif.-- It’s been a rough stretch, and the Cougars are hoping it’s all a thing of the past. On Friday night the Azusa Pacific baseball team ended its six-game home skid, a skid in which the Cougars lost by an average of nearly six runs per game, with a 7-2 defeat of Biola, thanks to a strong all-around performance. The Cougars were solid in all three facets of the game, and saw their seniors take charge to help end one of the program’s toughest stretches, and move the team in the right direction before opening up Pacific West play next week.
“I think it’s a testament to the guys hanging in despite a tough week of baseball. For them to play the way they did says a lot. The seniors did a nice job of staying within themselves as players to lead the guys. I was proud of them. It was an adverse week, and they stuck with it,” said head coach Paul Svagdis. “I felt like we played well as a team. All nine hitters had good processes at the plate. Jason did a really nice job of getting us seven innings of really good baseball, and the relief pitching was strong. There were so many guys that helped us get the win today.”
Senior right hander Jason Plowman highlighted the effort, tossing seven innings, and shutting out the Eagles over his last five innings of work. The La Verne native improved to 2-1 with the win, and threw 111 pitches, with two strikeouts, while allowing Biola to register just six hits. Azusa Pacific then got a pair of nice relief efforts from two freshmen, with Mitch Dergazarian pitching a hitless eighth after playing right field over the first seven innings, and Zach DeMarcus shutting down the Biola bats in the top of the ninth to seal the win.
The Cougar offense tabbed 11 hits, and scored seven runs, all of which came in the first three innings as Azusa Pacific piled it on early. Seniors Brendan Casey, Tyler Putjenter, and Ryan Henley led the offensive charge with two hits apiece, and three combined RBIs, while Matt Kimmel extended his RBI streak to seven games with a one-run double in the first inning. Eight of the Cougars’ nine starters recorded hits on the night, and freshman Daniel Martin paced the team with two runs.
The Cougars jumped on the Eagles early, scoring two runs in the first on a one-run double from Kimmel, and an RBI groundout from Danny Gonzales after Andrew Carillo singled to center and Martin walked. Biola tied things up in the top of the second, scoring on a sacrifice bunt, and an errant pickoff attempt.
The Cougars took back the lead in the bottom half of the inning when Dergazarian singled in Putjenter. Azusa Pacific then blew the game wide-open in the third, scoring four runs on five hits. In the frame Casey, Putjenter, and Richie Brown notched RBI hits to push the score to 7-2, a score that stood over the final six innings.
Azusa Pacific got the Eagles to hit into a pair of double plays, including one on the play of the night from Kimmel. On the play Kimmel chased down a deep line drive into the gap in right center and made a bobbling, stumbling catch near the wall before relaying it in to double-up Biola at first as the Eagles stood around looking utterly confused at what happened.
Azusa Pacific will get back to the field on Saturday when it travels to La Mirada for a double header with Biola, scheduled to start at 11 a.m. with the Cougars in search of their first back-to-back wins this year.