AZUSA, Calif. -- Scott Hodsdon may not have started the ballgame for Azusa Pacific but he made sure he ended it.
With 2 men aboard and 2 outs in the bottom of the tenth inning, Hodsdon, a member of the 2005 All-GSAC squad, laced a single to center to plate Kirk Nieuwenhuis with the winning run as the Cougars rallied from behind to beat Cal State San Bernardino, 6-5, at Cougar Field.
After entering the game in the fourth inning, Hodsdon came through in the clutch twice at the plate and flashed the leather with a spectacular defensive play.
A raucous crowd that stayed into the game’s waning innings went home happy after watching Azusa Pacific (1-0) rally from a late deficit to win. Trailing 5-4 entering the bottom of the eighth, Nick Beghtol hit a 1-out single before stealing second base. After Nieuwenhuis struck out, Johnny Soberal reached on a walk bringing Hodsdon to the plate.
Always one to relish the pressure situation, he delivered a game-tying base hit that scored Beghtol and tied the game at 5. In the top of the ninth, head coach Paul Svagdis gave the ball to freshman reliever Christian Gagne who retired the leadoff batter before Tony Haro hit a smash deep in the hole at short. Hodsdon sprung quickly to his right and snared the ball off a hop while sliding on his stomach. He then pounced to his feet and threw a perfect one hop through to Nieuwenhuis at first base for the out.
“That was a big time play,” said Svagdis. “We’ve got a freshman on the hill and getting that second out was huge. He is a competitor. He may not be successful sometimes but he’s not worried about it the next time. He wants to be in those types of situations.”
The dugout roared its approval of Hodsdon’s gem. “When Gagne pitches a lot of guys will hit it to that hole because of his delivery. I wanted to get there as fast as I could,” said Hodsdon. “I dove a little early but got a good hop.”
The Cougars were unable to push a run across in the bottom of the ninth and so the game moved into extra innings. A seemingly unfazed Gagne (1-0) retired the side in order for the second consecutive inning setting up the game’s dramatic finish.
The Coyotes’ (0-1) ninth pitcher of the night, Rylan Hanks, opened the tenth by getting 2 quick outs before plunking Nieuwenhuis, who had 2 strikes on him. Soberal then followed with a bouncer to second that was misplayed by Haro setting the table for Hodsdon. His liner through the box caused another eruption from the dugout as the Cougars ran out to congratulate him.
“This sets the tone,” he said. “A lot of games aren’t this close but you have to be prepared. In do or die situations we want to do it right now.”
Hodsdon wasn't the only Cougar who came through on a chilly night at Cougar Field. Nick Johnson came up with a huge run scoring single in the bottom of the seventh inning to drive in Soberal to cut the deficit to just 1 run.
In the top half of the frame, Brad Boekestein surrendered a leadoff double to Drew Valenzuela and then promptly balked him to third. However, he settled in to retire the next 3 in order while stranding the runner in scoring position to keep his team close.
The win was the 200th in Svagdis’ coaching career as he begins his fourth season at Azusa Pacific and tenth overall.
The Cougars will now travel to the Bay Area where they will meet Patten on Friday in a doubleheader slated to begin at 11 a.m.