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Twice as Nice

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March 2, 2006
Jason Cannon
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COSTA MESA, Calif. -- For the second consecutive day, Azusa Pacific put together a scoring rally in its last at-bat to beat Vanguard.

After scoring 4 runs in the eighth inning for a come-from-behind win yesterday, the Cougars scored twice in the top of the ninth inning to break a tie and beat the Lions, 3-1, to win their fifth straight game.

Dwight Nixon doubled in a pair of runs off Clay Brown in the ninth inning as Azusa Pacific won late again. He lined a ball the opposite way that was over the head of the right fielder Matt Voorhies and up against the fence. Titus Lester and Kirk Nieuwenhuis were off with the shot and both scored to give the Cougars the lead.

Nixon now has 12 RBIs on the season with 4 coming in the past 2 games. As he continues to heat up the lower third of the batting order will continue to pack quite a punch.

Base hits were at a premium as the Cougars and Lions combined for only 7 hits between them. However, the Cougars made the most of its final scoring chance.

The game moved along at a brisk pace because of 2 outstanding outings from each team’s starting pitcher. Vanguard’s Michael Guernsey and Azusa Pacific’s Guy McDowell were locked into a duel into the late innings.

McDowell went a season-high 7 frames allowing just 1 run in 7 innings of work with 7 strikeouts, while Guernsey gave up only 1 run until running into problems in the ninth inning when he had to give way to the bullpen.

Garrett Lebsock pitched a scoreless eighth inning followed by Scott Hodsdon who closed out the game getting 3 outs in the bottom of the ninth.

The Cougars took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. With 2 outs, Stephen Vogt and Scott Hodsdon eached drew walks. Guernsey then balked moving them each up a base. He then threw a pitch in the dirt that got past catcher Travis Westerfeld allowing Vogt to score.

An RBI single by Joe Candelaria off McDowell tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the second. That was the last scoring until the bit hit by Nixon.

With the win, the Cougars (12-4, 7-1) continued its best start ever under head coach Paul Svagdis. They remained entrenched in second place in the GSAC and will next travel to No. 6-ranked Point Loma Nazarene for a doubleheader on Saturday in San Diego, Calif.