SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific has shown a combination of solid pitching and timely hitting throughout the season’s initial phase. In a doubleheader against GSAC rival Westmont the Cougars put on another display of good baseball as they swept the Warriors, 12-4 and 7-1.
The Cougars only used 3 pitchers the entire afternoon as Guy McDowell and Zach Pettikas combined to win the opener followed by another gem tossed by Andrew Abell, who threw his second complete game of the season.
Pettikas, who was sharp in his last appearance against Patten this past Monday, was dominant again as he relieved McDowell after 4 innings and ate up the Warrior bats over 5 scoreless frames allowing just 1 hit while striking out 8. The pitching in the opener was bolstered by an offense that scored 12 runs and banged out 15 hits including another home run by Nick Johnson, who hit his third roundtripper of the season in the eighth inning.
Chris Cardinale had a big day going 4-for-6 in the lead off spot driving in a run and scoring twice. Cardinale and Johnson have been able to reach base in recent games to set the table for the middle of the order but the Cougars got contributions throughout the line-up.
First baseman Kirk Nieuwenhuis had 3 hits and Johnny Soberal launched his first homer of the season in the fourth, a 2-run shot to left field that gave the Cougars a 4-1 lead.
Pettikas took over from there coming into the game in the fifth. He promptly struck out the side and was off and running. The southpaw retired the first 11 batters he faced as he picked up his second win of the season.
Again, pitching was the story in the nightcap. As he did earlier this season against Biola, Abell was terrific against Westmont as he scattered 7 hits while allowing just 1 walk and striking out a season-high 9 batters.
The Cougars took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning when Titus Lester, running for Stephen Vogt who had singled, eventually came around to score on an error by Warrior shortstop Nate Shaver. In the bottom of the inning, back-to-back doubles by Josh Danesforooz and Steve Hardesty tied the game at 1-1.
However, Azusa Pacific would take the lead for good in the fourth when, with 1 out, Scott Hodsdon singled and Coba Canales followed with his second homer of the year to give his team a 3-1 lead.
Abell silenced the Warriors the rest of the way as the Cougars continued to tack on runs including an RBI double off the bat of Nieuwenhuis.
The victories improve the Cougars’ record to 10-4 overall and 5-1 in the GSAC. They are a game and a half behind California Baptist for the league lead. The Cougars will be in action again Tuesday night when they host Claremont Mudd at 5 p.m. at Cougar Field.