Azusa Pacific 2
AZUSA, Calif.-- Three Azusa Pacific pitchers combined to limit Vanguard to just 7 hits and 1 run to key the Cougars to a GSAC doubleheader sweep of the Lions Saturday in Azusa.
Zach Pettikas and Kelly Strickland combined for a 5-hitter in the Cougars’ 5-1 win in the opener, and then Brandon Sisk tossed a 2-hit shutout at the Cougars completed a 3-game series sweep of the Lions with a 2-0 win in the nightcap.
With the sweep of the Lions, the Cougars improve to 12-7 overall, 7-2 GSAC. The Cougars have won 5 in a row and 11 of 13 since starting the season 1-5. Vanguard falls to 9-12, 5-7.
“Our pitchers were phenomenal this weekend,” said Azusa Pacific head coach Paul Svagdis. “We didn’t know who was going to start the first game today, and Zach came in and did a great job. Jason set the tone with his game yesterday, which allowed us to come back with Zach today.”
Stephen Vogt and Coba Canales both finished with 4 hits on the day as Canales went 3-for-4 in the opener, aided by a pair of infield singles. Vanguard took a 1-0 lead in the third on an RBI single by Aaron Barret, but the Lions wouldn’t be heard from again.
The Cougars quickly loaded the bases with one out in the third when Sisk delivered a sacrifice fly to tie the game. Canales then followed with an RBI single, and the Cougars took a 2-1 lead. James O’Neill then added the Cougars’ second sac-fly in as many innings to give them a 3-1 lead in the fifth.
That was more than enough for Pettikas. After giving up a single to Matt Voorhies in the fourth, Pettikas retired the next 9 batters, including the first 2 of the seventh. However, the Lions battled to load the bases before Pettikas induced Luke Iverson into an inning-ending flyout to left.
Sisk delivered an RBI double, and Vogt had an RBI single in the eighth to complete the scoring, and Strickland came on in the eighth to allow just one hit to pick up the save.
The Cougars pounded out 11 hits, 9 of them singles as 8 different Cougars recorded at least one hit. Sisk finished with a pair of RBIs.
In the nightcap, Sisk was virtually untouchable in throwing the Cougars’ first shutout of the season. He didn’t allow a hit until Matt Sparks singled up the middle to lead off the fifth. By then, though, the Cougars led 2-0.
Vogt drove in Scott Hodsdon, who doubled, with an RBI single in the first. Then in the third, after a double steal by Canales and courtesy-runner Nick Johnson, Morrison capitalized with a sacrifice fly to give the Cougars 2-run lead.
Sisk struck out 10 and allowed just one seventh inning walk. Fittingly, he struck out Voorhies for the third time to end the game.
Vogt was 2-for-3 as was Chris Cardinale.
All told, in the 3-game sweep of Vanguard, Cougar pitchers were brilliant. Toss in Jason Ray’s 4-hit, 14-strikeout performance in Friday’s win in Costa Mesa, and the Cougar hurlers allowed just 11 hits and 2 runs while striking out 31 in 25 innings.
“To be honest, Vogt should get a ton of the credit, too,” said Svagdis. “Our catchers call 99% of the pitches, and he went through 3 games this weekend and called all the games and still went up and hit. I was excited to see his energy and see him call games like that.”