CHICO, Calif.-- After playing through rain in the first six innings of Friday’s scheduled double header, the Azusa Pacific baseball team suffered a tough 3-1 loss to Chico State at Nettleton Stadium. The Cougars put runners on first and second with no outs in the top of the seventh inning, but before they had the opportunity to cash in, rain forced the umpires to delay, and eventually call the game, handing Azusa Pacific its third straight loss to the No. 12 ranked Wildcats.
After producing just three runs through the first three games the Cougar bats looked primed to come to life when Azusa Pacific had the potential game-tying run on base with no outs when the game was called.
Sophomore pitcher Joel Belk was saddled with the loss for the Cougars despite putting four zeros on the board to start the game. But in the fifth the Wildcats got on the board, after a catcher's interference and two bunt-singles loaded the bases with nobody out. Belk induced a pair of infield groundballs, but the throw home from second base on the second ground ball was off target, allowing the first run to score. A sacrifice fly and a groundball that got through the right side of the infield accounted for the other two Wildcat (4-1) runs, which was all they needed.
Belk finished with one earned run on six hits with three strikeouts through five innings in his second start of the season. For the Wildcats, Marcos Lara went six innings, allowing just four hits and no earned runs, while striking out three of the 22 batters faced.
In the Cougars' final full inning at the plate, sophomore Andrew Carrillo took advantage of a pair of defensive mistakes from Chico State. After reaching base on a fielding error by third baseman Ruben Padilla, Carrillo advanced to second base on a wild pitch, putting a runner in scoring position with nobody out for the second consecutive inning. Carrillo eventually advanced to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Santana, setting up Danny Martin's two-out RBI single for the Cougars' only run.
In the previous inning, singles by Jordan Brower and Blake James put runners on first and second with nobody out. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch with one out before senior designated hitter Dominic Biagini was intentionally walked to load the bases. Sophomore catcher Joe Huthsing then flew out to left field, and after tagging, Brower was called out at home after apparently missing the plate.
The Cougars' had a runner in scoring position with nobody out for the third inning in a row when the game was called, ending the series at Chico State in a three-game sweep. The Cougars are now 2-3 on the season and will face Concordia in a home-away two-game series on Feb. 11 & 18. The second will begin a 12-game home stretch for the Cougars, who have won both home games so far this season.