Azusa Pacific 2 (8)
LA MIRADA, Calif. -- Anthony Manuel’s 1-out sacrifice fly to right in the bottom of the eighth lifted the NAIA’s No. 8-ranked Biola to a 3-2 extra innings win over Azusa Pacific Saturday in the nightcap salvaging a split of a GSAC doubleheader in La Mirada.
The Cougars, behind a sparkling performance from Jason Ray, took the opener 6-3 to snap the Eagles’ 9-game GSAC winning streak.
With the game tied 2-2 in the eighth, the Eagles loaded the bases with one out to set up Manuel’s heroics. Kris Cook singled through the left side, and Andy Kroeker followed with an infield single to short. Justin Long, who entered the game in the seventh as a defensive replacement at third, then laid down a sacrifice bunt, and the Cougars elected to intentionally walk Matt McQueen to load the bases and set up a force out at any base. However, Manuel lifted the first pitch he saw to right, scoring Cook with the game-winner.
The sac fly spoiled what was otherwise a stellar performance on the mound by Scott Hodsdon, who went 7.2 innings, scattering 10 singles and allowing just 2 earned runs. He struck out 4 and walked just 2.
Biola struck first in its second at-bat, benefiting from a pair of Cougar errors. McQueen reached on an error by James O’Neill at short, and then he came around to score on Manuel’s single to left that got by Joe Morrison. However, the Cougars responded in the fourth when Johnny Soberal belted a solo shot to left off Eagle starter Travis Lange.
In the fifth, the Eagles strung together 3 straight 1-out singles, including David Mirabal’s RBI single through the left side to take a 2-1 lead. But the Cougars answered in their next at-bat. Soberal had a 1-out double, and after Stephen Vogt was intentionally walked, Morrison delivered an RBI double off Phil Gausepohl that tied the game at 2-2.
Jonathan Grijalva, who ended up getting the win in relief, then came on and struck out Nate Leiser with Vogt on third to end the threat. Grijalva worked a perfect seventh and eighth, putting the Eagles in position to get the win. The Eagles did put the winning run on third with one out in the seventh, but Hodsdon forced pinch-hitter Kevin Fox into a comebacker that went for a 1-2-3 inning-ending double play.
The Cougars had just 6 hits, 2 of them from Soberal. Vogt was 1-for-2, extending his streak of reaching base safely to 78 straight games.
In the opener, Ray returned to dominant form as he tossed 8 innings, allowing 5 hits and 3 runs while striking out 10. He did all he could to keep the game close until the Cougar blew the doors off with a 4-run sixth to take a 6-1 lead.
They took advantage of a pair of errors by Eagle second baseman Matt Love to take a 1-0 lead in their first at-bat, and then used an RBI single by Chris Cardinale to take a 2-0 lead in the second. Love had an RBI single to make it 2-1 in the Eagles’ half of the second.
Things stayed status quo until the sixth when the Cougars got to starter Garet Hill. Soberal squeezed in O’Neill, who reached on an error to lead off the inning, for the first run. Vogt finished 3-for-4, and he delivered a 2-run single down the right field line scoring Soberal and Cardinale, who earlier reached on an infield single. Morrison then capped the scoring with an infield RBI single.
The Eagles got 2 of those back in the seventh on an RBI triple by Frank Thomas, who later scored on an error by Cougar first baseman Jonathan Dravecky. But that was all they could get as Ray ended the threat by striking out Blake Whiteman. Jason Madsen threw a scoreless ninth for his first career save.
Hill suffered just his second loss of the year after throwing 6 innings and allowing 12 hits and 6 runs (4 earned) while striking out 5.
All 13 of the Cougars’ hits were singles. Cardinale was 3-for-6 with a run and an RBI. Soberal scored twice and drove in another with the squeeze. Morrison and Coba Canales each had 2 hits apiece.
With the split, the Cougars move to 15-19 overall, 10-11 GSAC. Biola improves to 29-8, 18-3.