HILO, Hawai’i-- The Azusa Pacific baseball team erupted for 10 early runs en route to an 11-3 win over Hawai’i Hilo in the opener of a four-game series Thursday night. Azusa Pacific opened the game with a four run first inning, and went ahead 8-0 with four more runs in the top of the third in a game where Azusa Pacific scattered 17 hits (16 singles) from eight different players.
Junior centerfielder Joseph Daris led the offensive surge with a 4-for-4 effort, scoring four runs while driving in two more. The leadoff hitter also stole a base, adding to his team best clip of 14 stolen bases in 15 tries.
Junior first basemen Jordan Brower drove in three runs, batting 2-for-3 while drawing a pair of walks. Freshman Sean Aspinall added three hits in five at bats, scoring twice and driving in another run.
Joel Belk had a solid start, giving up only three hits in five innings of work. The three hits, however, led to three runs. Belk struck out three batters, while walking two in his fifth win of the year before giving way to Hunter Brown in the sixth inning.
Brown stifled the Vulcan bats, striking out a pair of batters in two innings of one-hit ball with the lone hit he surrendered erased when Joe Huthsing threw out his 14th would be base stealer of the season. Josh Grajeda pitched a perfect eighth inning and Seth Gill closed Hawai’i Hilo out, stranding a pair of Hawai’i Hilo base runners after inducing a game-ending popup.
In the top of the first Azusa Pacific scored four two-out runs after Daris led off with an infield single and Mitch Dergazarian recorded a base hit to left field. A one-out Brower walk loaded the bases before a Daniel Martin fielder’s choice put the Cougars on the board. An Aspinall RBI single put Azusa Pacific up 2-0, and a Huthsing single, coupled with a UHH fielding error, plated Aspinall and Martin.
Azusa Pacific poured it on again in the in the top of the third, with hits from Aspinall and Huthsing setting up a sacrifice opportunity, which Hawai’i Hilo zooed past first to score Aspinall. Daris then drove in two runs with a single down the left field line, and an infield one-run single from Brower made it an 8-0 game.
In the bottom of the frame the Vulcans scored a pair of runs, using a leadoff double and a pair sacrifices to plate the first. A walk and a hit batter, followed by a double, gave Hilo its second run of the game. A two run single from Brower in the fifth pushed the score to 10-2, and a Matt Kimmel RBI single capped the scoring.
Dergazarian finished with two hits in the win, while Dusty Sanderson went 2-for-5 with a run scored.
Azusa Pacific will continue its four-game series against the Vulcans with a doubleheader on Friday, with the first pitch of game one slated for 4 p.m. (HAST).