Azusa Pacific 2
Azusa Pacific 3
AZUSA, Calif.-- Biola used a trio of late home runs in the opener and then a big 6-run inning in the nightcap to sweep a key mid-season GSAC doubleheader at Azusa Pacific Friday.
The Eagles took the opener, 5-2, and then completed the sweep with a come-from-behind 6-3 win in the nightcap.
With the sweep, Biola, which is ranked No. 16 in the NAIA, improves to 17-5 overall, 12-2 GSAC. Azusa Pacific suffers its fourth straight loss and falls to 12-11, 7-4. These 2 teams play the final game of the 3-game set tomorrow at 11 a.m. in La Mirada.
For the first 7 innings, the opener was a pitchers’ duel with the Cougars’ Jason Ray and the Eagles’ Reid Hamblet matching each other pitch for pitch.
Ray surrendered a 2-out, 2-RBI bases loaded single to left to Chris Weems in the third that gave the Eagles a 2-0 lead. Hamblet’s lone mistake was allowing a 2-run shot to left by Johnny Soberal that tied the game at 2-2.
Things took a turn in the seventh, though, when Ray began to tire. Richard Fixsen, who finished 2-for-4 hit a solo home run that just cleared the left field wall to break the tie and give the Eagles the lead for good. Then in the eighth, after Ray got Weems to fly out to left, Andy Kroeker and James Carrisalez connected for back-to-back solo shots that gave the Eagles a 5-2 advantage and ending Ray’s afternoon.
Meanwhile, Hamblet continued to motor through the Cougars. After giving up Soberal’s homer in the fifth, Hamblet allowed just 3 hits the rest of the way as he tossed his second complete game of the season. He allowed just 5 hits and the 2 earned runs while striking out 10.
Ray went 7.1 innings, giving up 5 hits and 5 runs while striking out 7. Soberal was 2-for-3.
In the nightcap, the Cougars jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third off starter Justin Lange. John Ray and Soberal each singled, and Scott Hodsdon loaded the bases with a walk. Jeff Staniland then lined a single to right, and Stephen Vogt drew a bases loaded walk.
The Eagles, though, sent 10 batters to the plate in the fifth, scoring 6 times. The first 5 hitters reached base. Chris Willard singled, Anthony Manuel doubled and Frank Thomas walked to load the bases and chase Cougar starter Brandon Sisk. Richard Fixsen then reached on an error that scored a run, and then David Mirabal delivered a 2-RBI single. Former Cougar Mark Streelman then capped the inning with a 2-out, 2-RBI double to left center off reliever Zach Pettikas.
Vogt was one of 3 Cougars with 2 hits, and he belted an RBI double to left center to cut the deficit in half, but 4 Eagle relievers came in to close the door, the last being Jonathan Grijalva, who picked up his sixth save of the season.
Lange earned the win as he went 4.1 innings, scattering 6 hits and allowing all 3 runs. Sisk suffered his second loss of the season, allowing 3 earned runs in 4 innings of work.
John Ray and Soberal each had 2 hits. Soberal finished the day with 4 hits.