AZUSA, Calif.-- A pair of complete games, and Matt Kimmel’s game-winning run on a wild pitch sealed the Azusa Pacific baseball team’s sweep of Academy of Art on Tuesday. In game one sophomore Josh Staumont didn’t allow an earned run over nine innings of five hit ball in a 5-1 win before Joel Belk gave up just one run in a complete game 2-1 win over the Urban Knights to clinch the Cougars’ second four-game sweep of a Pacific West Conference opponent this season.
“I think pitching did a really good job and really gave us an opportunity to win two today,” head coach Paul Svagdis said. “To get complete games out of the two starters is always fabulous for your bullpen, especially when you have more games coming up during the week. Staumont set the tone by giving us a good start throwing nine innings and that was followed up by Joel Belk.”
In the second game of the doubleheader, designated hitter Ryan Santana hit a two-out homerun to right field in the bottom of the fourth to break a 0-0 tie, but the Urban Knights (5-15, 1-7) led off the sixth inning with a double to left field from Kolani Brackenridge, who advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a Joseph Marchini single up the middle to tie the game at 1-1.
In the same frame the Urban Knights continued to threaten, loading the bags to put the go-ahead run 90 feet from the plate. But Belk put an end to Academy of Art’s rally, striking out pinch hitter Ryan Ramirez in three pitches to stand three of the six runners Art U left on base in game two.
“The inning could have gotten out of hand when the bases were loaded and they scored the one run, but Belk did a great job buckling down, striking that last guy, and getting the third out,” Svagdis said.
In the bottom of the sixth, after two pitching changes in the inning, Sean Aspinall and Kimmel held their place on first and second base. Aspinall was thrown out during an attempt to steal third, but Jordan Brower answered with a single through the right side to advance Kimmel to third base. Then, with two outs, Kimmel gave the Cougars the go-ahead run on a wild pitch from Aaron Garabedian to secure the Cougars’ 2-1 win.
“The team responded well by doing a good job of getting our guys on base,” Svagdis said. “That’s what you really need to do. I am not sure we did a great job executing some base running plans, but at the end of the day, they did put pressure on Academy of Art by answering. To get that second run across at the bottom of the sixth obviously is a big deal when your pitcher is pitching well.”
In game one, the Cougars had an early lead when leadoff hitter Joseph Daris scored off left fielder Mitch Dergazarian’s triple to deep center.
Kimmel’s RBI single scored Dergazarian to give Azusa Pacific a quick 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
Staumont controlled the Urban Knights in game one, but after an interference call in the fifth advanced a runner to third, and the sophomore gave up his lone run allowed in the game on an RBI groundout. With the score at 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Azusa Pacific answered back with three hits and three runs on two defensive errors widening the margin to four runs. Staumont recorded his fifth win of the season, registering six strikeouts in the game to bring his season total to 51 strikeouts in 47.1 innings.
The Cougars tallied nine hits, with Brower, Kimmel, Dergazarian, and Blake James each tallying two.
After claiming both wins in today’s matchup, Azusa Pacific swept the four-game series against Academy of Art. The first two games of the series took place Feb. 27, and the Cougars triumphed 9-1, and 18-1 before rain caused a delay in the series.
Azusa Pacific will return to the field Wednesday night for a non-conference home game against the Biola at 5 p.m.