CHICO, Calif.-- After opening the season with a home sweep over Cal State San Bernardino last weekend, the Azusa Pacific baseball team evened its record to 2-2 with a pair of losses to No. 12 ranked Chico State in drizzly conditions Thursday afternoon. The Cougars dropped the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader 6-2 before notching just three hits in a narrow 1-0 loss in the nightcap.
Each of the Cougars’ starters took hard luck losses, with Zach Hedges taking a loss with a six-inning, three-hit effort in which he allowed just one run in game two, after Josh Staumont suffered his first loss as a Cougar in four innings of one-hit ball.
Staumont struck out five batters, and didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning where the Wildcats (3-1) scored with the first of three two-run singles in the game. Chico State got its only run against Hedges in the second frame of game two with a two-out RBI double before the junior right hander shut down the Wildcat lineup, giving up only one hit the rest of the way.
The Cougar bats tallied 11 hits between the two games with Matt Kimmel and Andrew Carrillo pacing the team with two hits apiece, including triples for each of them in the opener. Two of Azusa Pacific’s three hits in game two were for extra bases, but the Cougars advanced just one runner to third base in the loss.
Blake James and Joe Huthsing each had doubles, with Hutshing advancing to third base on a Mitch Dergazarian sac bunt in the third. The Cougar threat, however, was eliminated on an inning ending double play.
In game one Azusa Pacific had some early opportunities. In the first Kimmel led off with a single, and after a passed ball and fielder’s choice advanced to third. Then, on a Martin grounder to first, Kimmel was thrown out at home plate.
In the third inning Carrillo hit a leadoff triple, and after a fly ball from Kimmel wasn’t deep enough to send him home, the sophomore ran on contact on a grounder to short, where he was cut down at the plate.
Staumont had an impressive first few innings, striking out the side in the second frame to escape from a jam with runners on second and third base. The 2013 Golden State Athletic Conference’s strikeout leader tallied five K’s in four innings, striking out all three swinging in the second.
In the fourth Staumont ran into trouble when he loaded the bags with two outs before Chico State picked up its first hit of the day, a two-run single to center field to make it a 2-0 game in the fifth.
Carrillo tried to get the Cougars going in the ensuing inning, leading off the frame with a single to left. But the sophomore was quickly wiped away on a 6-3 double play. In the fifth Nate Namanny took the reins, and despite loading the bases with no outs, came away from the inning unscathed.
But The Wildcats opened things up in the sixth, getting four runs on four hits, scoring on a pair of two-run singles to take a 6-0 lead into the seventh. The Cougars got their first run of the day after Kimmel tripled in Carrillo to snap a 12-inning shutout streak for Chico State pitchers. Joseph Daris then made it a 2-0 game on an RBI groundout.
Azusa Pacific mounted a comeback attempt in the top of the ninth, getting a single from Ryan Santana and a pinch-hit walk from Andy Bissel to put the tying run on deck. But a game-ending strikeout sealed the Wildcats’ series opening victory.
The Cougars will return to action on Friday at 11 a.m., with rain expected to hit Chico in the late afternoon. For complete updates on potential weather delays, follow APUCougars on Twitter.