AZUSA, Calif. -- With its offense looking sluggish an infusion of youngsters and one swing of the bat by Stephen Vogt proved to be the difference as Azusa Pacific rallied to beat Claremont Mudd Scripps, 9-4, Friday afternoon at Cougar Field.
The Stags put 4 runs on the board in the second inning against Cougar starter Zach Pettikas to gain an early foothold in the game. The big blow was a 2-run double off the bat of Robert Koczan.
Claremont (3-3) hurler David Noble was the beneficiary of the run support and he stymied the Cougars’ offense through the first 5 innings as he allowed only 2 hits. Then he suddenly tired in the sixth inning and began to leave his pitches up the zone. Azusa Pacific took advantage.
Ben Adams singled to center to lead things off. Then Stephen Gillette hit a rocket into deep centerfield that plated Adams and left him standing at second base with a double. Shaun Lane then pulled a single into left setting up Vogt. The All-American then crushed a Noble offering over the right centerfield fence for a 3-run home run that tied the game at 4-4.
For Vogt it was his third homer in the season's first 9 games. His career-high is the 6 roundtrippers he hit as a freshman.
Azusa Pacific tacked on 2 more runs in the inning to take 6-4 lead and it didn’t look back. Kirk Nieuwenhuis was masterful out of the bullpen for the Cougars as he went 6 strong innings allowing 5 hits and no runs. He picked up his second win of the young season.
The Cougars then added 2 more runs in the seventh inning as Adams again led off and this time doubled into the left field corner. Gillette then reached on an infield single into the hole at shortstop which moved Adams to third base. Then Matt Green, who had just replaced Noble, threw a wild pitch that allowed Adams to score. Vogt then hit a sacrifice fly to score Gillette.
Adams and Gillette are a pair of freshmen with very bright futures but they should tremendous ability at the plate in the present. They combined to go 6-for-6 in their first extensive action of the season.
The contest was originally scheduled as a doubleheader but rain forced the second game to be called.
Azusa Pacific (7-2) will take the weekend off before hosting Bethany on Monday at Cougar Field for a doubleheader scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.