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Belk Rings In Split

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Photo by Ken Williams
Joel Belk picked up his third win of the season in game one against the Sea Lions.

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March 29, 2014
Chris Baker
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AZUSA, Calif.-- The road hasn’t been too kind for the Azusa Pacific baseball team this season, with four of the Cougars’ six road losses coming by just one run entering Saturday’s Pacific West Conference double header against Point Loma. Azusa Pacific, however, grabbed its first win away from home following Joel Belk’s strong pitching and 13 hits in a 6-4 win, before suffering another tough road loss with Point Loma scoring a pair of unearned runs in a 3-1 defeat of the Cougars.

Azusa Pacific (18-10, 11-5) led by as many as six runs in the victory, breaking the game open with a three-run fourth inning, and getting a pair of crucial insurance runs in the sixth while Belk limited Point Loma to just two hits through the first four frames before Mike Fairchild held off a surging Sea Lion team with 2.1 innings of one-run ball to notch his first save.

The Cougars used key hits, with three runs coming with two outs, and Daniel Martin’s two-out, two-run single in the sixth providing the final differential. Martin went 2-for-4 in the win, and tallied four hits on the day. Sophomore Mitch Dergazarian’s hot bat continued to shine, with the left fielder batting 4-for-5 with one run in the first game against the Sea Lions. Joseph Daris and Jordan Brower also added one hit and one RBI in the victory.

Adam McCreery suffered a bad-luck loss in the second game, surrendering just one earned run in 4.1 innings of work, while striking out five batters in his second loss of the season. McCreery gave up three runs and four hits, and despite allowing the Sea Lions to load the bases in the first two frames, let just one run across, escaping with back-to-back inning-ending strikeouts.

The Cougars tied the game in the top of the third after a walk, Martin double, and back-to-back hit batters plated Dergazarian. But Point Loma got to the Cougars with two runs in the fourth, using an Azusa Pacific fielding error and two hits to take a 3-1 lead. From then on Azusa Pacific never got a runner past first base, giving the Sea Lions the series-ending win.

Martin recorded two hits in the loss, while Daris and Brower registered the Cougars’ only other hits. Point Loma also nabbed just four hits in a game where both teams combined to strand 17 runners on base.

In game one Azusa Pacific turned a 0-0 pitcher’s duel into 6-0 game with a run in the third, three in the fourth, and two in the fifth. The Cougars got on the board with Brower’s RBI single, before Daris’ sacrifice fly in the fourth gave Azusa Pacific its first of three runs in the frame. Martin then singled in Andrew Carrillo and Blake James to give the Cougars an early 4-0 lead. In the fifth inning Joe Hutshing plated Brower and Domenic Biagini to make it a 6-0 game with a two-run single.

Belk put up four shutout frames to open the game, and struck out three batters to record his third win of the season. The sophomore tossed 6.2 innings, allowing three earned runs, and stranded seven Sea Lion runners on base. Fairchild pitched 2.1 innings of relief, giving up just one hit to earn his first career save.

Azusa Pacific will return to action against the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Single-A affiliate Rancho Cucamonga Quakes on Tuesday, before traveling to St. George, Utah for a four-game set against Dixie State.