RIVERSIDE, Calif.-- In baseball things can change quickly, and that was no more evident than in Azusa Pacific’s 12-7 series opening loss to California Baptist on Thursday. With the Cougars owning the momentum in the fifth after erasing a 4-2 deficit on back-to-back RBIs, and pressing with the bases loaded and one out, the Lancers escaped, forcing a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth CBU’s offense took advantage, scoring on back-to-back base hits before blowing the game wide open with a pair of two-run bombs to turn a 4-4 tie into a 10-4 rout. The Cougars scored three more runs, all on a Richie Brown homer in the seventh, but never got back within two to lose their fourth in the past five games.
Brown shined in a losing effort, driving in a game-high four runs after going 2-for-4 with a home run and a double. Matt Kimmel finished with two RBIs, batting 1-for-4 with a walk. The Cougars registered just six hits in the game, while both squads were sloppy on the defensive end with three errors apiece. Azusa Pacific struck out 10 times, while the Lancers fell on strikes only twice.
The Cougars struck first, taking a 1-0 lead after half an inning. In the first frame Tyler Putjenter led off with a walk, and Domenic Biagini put runners on second and third with a double. Brown then reached first after getting beaned, and Kimmel scored Putjenter on a fielder’s choice to third.
Jason Plowman held the Lancers to just one hit in the first three innings, and Azusa Pacific wnet ahead 2-0 in the top of the third after Brendan Casey scored on a wild pitch. But in the bottom of the fourth things changed quickly.
CBU opened the inning with a strikeout, but five straight Lancer hits, which included two doubles, and a sacrifice fly, put California Baptist up 4-2. In the next half inning the Cougars closed the gap, getting a walk from Biagini and a hit from Casey before scoring on a RBI double from Brown. Azusa Pacific then tied it at 4-4 on a single up the middle by Kimmel before grounded into an inning ending double play with the bases loaded.
In the next frame things fell apart for the Cougars, with the Lancers scoring six runs with two outs. CBU walked to open the inning, but got a pop-out and a line-out before igniting a rally with an RBI double to right. An RBI single to left, and a two-run shot to right made it an 8-4 game. The Lancers then put the finishing touches on the rally with another two-run home run to left to make it a 10-4 game.
Azusa Pacific clawed away at the deficit in the seventh inning with a three-run homer from Brown, but CBU responded with two more runs in the bottom of the inning to keep Azusa Pacific at bay.
The loss dropped the Cougars to 7-14 in PacWest play, while elevating the Lancers’ record to 15-2, 22-9 overall. The two teams will return to action on Friday in Riverside at 3 p.m.