IRVINE, Calif.-- In the latest in a series of tough losses, the Azusa Pacific baseball team fell 3-2 to the NAIA’s 9th ranked Concordia on Tuesday. The Cougars left a pair of runners on base in each of the final two frames, and gave up only one earned run after junior Adam McCreery navigated his way out of multiple jams in a game in which he surrendered just three hits in five innings in his first start at Azusa Pacific.
The Cougars, who have dropped four straight (all to ranked opponents), had the tying run on second in the eighth and ninth innings, but Concordia’s (10-3) Logan Truex pitched well with runners in scoring position, getting two fly outs and a game-ending strikeout as the Eagles posted their fourth consecutive win against Azusa Pacific.
McCreery struck out two batters in five innings, and didn’t give up an earned run in 95 pitches. The former 14th round draft pick also helped the Cougars limit the Eagles to 3-of-13 batting with runners on, holding Concordia hitless in eight at-bats with runners on base.
In the fourth inning he escaped a bases loaded jam with one out, striking out Dillon Bryant in three pitches, and forcing an inning-ending lineout from Justin Hodges to preserve a 1-0 Cougar lead. McCreery stranded seven Concordia base runners, and also got out of a second and third jam in the second inning with an inning-ending fly out.
Joseph Daris led all Cougars with three hits and two runs in the game, while Danny Martin and Joe Huthsing each tabbed RBI doubles. Azusa Pacific registered six hits in the loss. Matt Kimmel recorded the team’s only other hit, batting 1-for-4 from the leadoff position.
The Cougars took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning after Daris got the team’s first hit of the day with a single up the middle. The speedster then stole second to setup an RBI double from Hutshing.
After the Eagles got two across in the fifth Daris again setup the Cougar offense in the sixth. The senior got a one out double down the left field line, and Martin followed it up with an RBI double into the left-center gap to knot the score at 2-2.
Azusa Pacific and Concordia traded scoreless frames in the bottom of the sixth and top of the seventh before the Eagles used a trio of hits, including back-to-back doubles, to regain the lead at 3-2.
In the eighth Kimmel got a two-out single, and a Daris base hit put runners on first and second before the Eagles got out of the inning with a flyout to right. Concordia looked to add to its lead in the bottom half of the inning, putting runners on second and third with two outs, but Luis Martinez came out of the pen to force a groundout to first and get the Cougars out of the inning.
In the ninth Huthsing gave Azusa Pacific a leadoff base runner thanks to a Concordia fielding error, and advanced to second on a Jordan Brower groundout. A Blake James walk put the go-ahead run on first, but the Eagles put an end to the Cougar threat with a flyout and game-ending strikeout.
Michael Fairchild, Josh Grajeda, and Martinez all posted scoreless outings, with Fairchild and Grajeda combining for three strikeouts in two innings of work.
Azusa Pacific will have a chance to snap its four-game skid next Tuesday when it welcomes Concordia to the Cougar Baseball Complex for the second game of the home-and-away series.