SAN MARCOS, Calif.-- Things were going well, right up until the end. After leading through the first eight innings of Thursday’s non-conference game at Cal State San Marcos, the Azusa Pacific baseball team gave up a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth, committing a pair of costly errors before CSUSM used a walk off bases loaded infield single to post a 3-2 comeback win.
In the bottom of the ninth Cal State San Marcos (29-15) led off with a double, and after back-to-back Cougar errors, got its first run of the game while putting runners on first and second with no outs. A single to center then loaded the bases, before another single knotted the score at 2-2, putting the game-winning run on third. Then, with the infield in, CSUSM sealed the unlikely comeback with a single to short, plating its third run of the frame after being held scoreless through the first eight innings.
Zach Hedges was saddled with the loss despite surrendering only one earned run in eight innings of work. Hedges struck out six and walked one, while allowing eight hits to fall to 4-4 on the year.
The Azusa Pacific offense put up 13 hits, and had the bases loaded on three separate occasions, but only cashed in two runs. The Cougars finished 0-for-3 with the bases juiced, and had four hits in 16 chances with runners in scoring position.
In the top of the first Joseph Daris led off with an infield single, moved to second on a Mitch Dergazarian base hit to right, and scored on Matt Kimmel’s RBI single, giving Azusa Pacific a quick 1-0 lead that would hold throughout the first eight frames.
Azusa Pacific then got its second run of the game in the eighth using small ball. Andrew Carrillo had a leadoff walk and stole second before a one-out Daris single moved him to third. Dergazarian brought the run home with a sacrifice fly to center field to give the Cougars an insurance run.
The Cougars, however, needed more. After shutting out Cal State San Marcos with six strikeouts in the first eight innings, CSUSM avoided a shutout with three runs in the bottom of the ninth, erasing Hedges’ brilliant performance. The junior gave up just two hits in the first five innings, and in the fourth got Azusa Pacific out of a jam, inducing an inning-ending double play with a runner on third to keep CSUSM off the board.
Daris batted 3-for-5 in the loss, while Daniel Martin, Joe Huthsing, and Danny Gonzales each added two hits.
Azusa Pacific will return to action at Cal State San Marcos at 3:00 p.m. Friday, before traveling to La Jolla for a doubleheader against UC San Diego on Saturday. The Cougars will then return home against Cal Poly Pomona, and will wrap up the regular season with a four-game home series against California Baptist, beginning Thursday.