HILO, Hawai’i-- After four scoreless frames of extra-inning baseball, Azusa Pacific broke through for two runs in the top of the 14th in a 5-3 win over Hawai’i Hilo Saturday, clinching the Cougars’ first road series of the season.
Mitch Dergazarian put an end to the scoring drought when his bases-loaded, one-out fly ball was dropped in right field, scoring Blake James, who singled to right to kick start the inning. A Danny Gonzales sacrifice fly then gave the Cougars a 5-3 lead before Hunter Brown and Seth Gill closed out Hawai’i Hilo in the bottom of the inning.
Luis Martinez was stellar in relief, picking up the win after surrendering one hit with three strikeouts in 3.1 innings. Brown struck out the first batter he faced, but after giving up a base hit Gill came in and recorded a pair of outs to post a save in the bottom of the 14th.
The Cougars outhit the Vulcans 18-10, and despite five UHH errors, managed just five runs in the series finale. Azusa Pacific’s pitching, however, struck out 10, and posted 13 scoreless frames, with the Vulcans scoring all three of their runs in the seventh inning.
Adam McCreery struck out five batters in 6.2 innings, and stranded seven batters, including three in the bottom of the second when he battled out of a bases loaded, one-out jam with a strikeout and groundout. The junior left the game with Azusa Pacific leading, but the three runners he put on base all came around to score, putting three earned runs on the junior’s ledger.
Josh Grajeda pitched three innings of scoreless relief, although the three runners he inherited scored. Grajeda struck out two and didn’t walk a batter before Luis Martinez took over in bottom of the 10th.
In the top of the ninth a fielding error on a Joseph Daris base hit put Azusa Pacific’s fastest player in in scoring position with one out. The Cougars then loaded the bases after Gonzales was hit by a pitch and Ryan Santana walked, setting up Matt Kimmel’s game-tying RBI single to third, which evened the score at 3-3.
Azusa Pacific cut the Vulcans’ lead to one in the top of the eighth, using a leadoff double from Jordan Brower, before a Sean Aspinall single to centerfield made it a 3-2 game.
Hawai’i Hilo took its first lead of the game in the seventh inning, taking advantage of a walk and two beaned batters to go ahead 3-1. A two-RBI single to left center scored the first two runs, before a single down the line plated the third run of the frame.
Azusa Pacific put an end to a 0-0 stalemate in the fifth inning, making the Vulcans pay after a two-out error put Dusty Sanderson on second base, with Daris’ RBI single down the left field line.
Daris continued his hot play with three hits and an RBI, while Brower and Kimmel each added three this apiece. Andy Bissel and Andrew Carrillo each went 2-for-3 at the plate.
Azusa Pacific will return to action Thursday night in the first of a two-game set at Cal State San Marcos before taking on UC San Diego in a doubleheader on Saturday. The Cougars will then return home from their 18-game road trip with a matchup with Cal Poly Pomona on April 29.