RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- There are not many who would brave the heavy rain and intermittent hail that has made a home in Southern California the past 24 hours to play a baseball doubleheader but California Baptist and Azusa Pacific had a big day on their plate with important conference implications.
In the end, the NAIA’s No. 2-ranked Lancers swept a GSAC doubleheader from Azusa Pacific, 13-6 and 6-2, at Lancer Field, gaining a still tighter grasp on first place and knocking the Cougars out of second place.
It was an oddity that the games were played at all considering the other 3 conferences match-ups were canceled due to the inclement weather. However, Riverside proved to be a safe haven from the weather and for Lancer bats, as they pounded Cougar pitching for 19 runs on 28 hits.
Steve Goins went 3-for-5 – all 3 hits were doubles – and knocked in 4 runs to lead the way for California Baptist (23-1, 13-1) in the opening 13-6 victory. Jordan Monroe also had a nice game at the plate in the opener as he drove in 3 runs for the Lancers who came into the day having scored 10 or more runs in 10 ballgames this season.
The Cougars were led by Stephen Vogt who smacked 2 doubles and had 2 RBIs.
Starting pitcher Zach Pettikas ran into trouble out of the blocks for the Cougars in the bottom of the first inning giving up 4 runs, including a 2-run single to Kevin Wright.
Azusa Pacific got a run back in the third inning when Chris Cardinale stole third base and came home to score on a throwing error. After the Lancers answered with a run of their own, the Cougars began to plug away at their deficit and brought themselves even at 5-5 on a 2-run double by Vogt and RBI single by Scott Hodsdon.
However, California Baptist continued to put runs on the board scoring twice in the fifth, 3 times in the sixth and 3 times in the eighth to put the game out of reach.
In the nightcap, things got off to a promising start for the Cougars. With 2 outs in the first inning, Vogt drew a walk. With Titus Lester running, Hodsdon singled to left centerfield putting runners at the corners. Kyle Thomas then balked, plating Lester for a 1-0 lead.
The Lancers answered in the bottom of the third against starter Andrew Abell. After the right hander got the first 2 men out, Aaron Seuss doubled. Robert Lundy followed with a base hit to left to tie the score 1-1.
Azusa Pacific’s Nick Beghtol has been vital to his team’s offensive success this season and he showed why when he struck a ball that flew over the left centerfield fence for his third home run of the season. It put the Cougars up, 2-1, but it proved to be the last run they would score.
Gabe Mayorga’s RBI single in the bottom of the frame scored Jordan Monroe to once again tie things up, this time at 2-2.
Then, in the fifth, things started to heat up at the plate for the Lancers. They put together a 4-run inning – including home runs by Mike Swain and Josh Banda – to take the lead for good. Goins, who had a solid game at the plate in the opener, pitched 6 solid innings giving up just 2 hits while striking out 9.
The loss snaps the Cougars' 2-game winning streak.
Azusa Pacific (14-8, 9-5) returns to Cougar Field to host Fisher (Mass.) in a non-conference doubleheader scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.