AZUSA, Calif. -- One made his first start of the season while the other continued his run as one of the GSAC’s finest hurlers.
From opposite sides of the spectrum, Jonathan Young and Garet Hill gave the NAIA's No. 5-ranked Biola a pair of quality starts that took advantage of a stalling Azusa Pacific offense in a doubleheader sweep by scores of 7-3 and 5-1, on Saturday afternoon at Cougar Field.
It was retro day at the ballpark as the Cougars donned orange and black replica uniforms from the 1980’s. Many former players came out to attend the event. However, Biola’s pitching staff stole the show.
Hill matched pitching wits with Andrew Abell in the nightcap. Each starter went the distance but Hill limited the Cougars (17-15, 10-10) to just 1 first inning run while scattering 6 hits as he earned his fourth win of the season.
Abell, who beat Biola (20-5, 13-5) earlier this season, pitched well again but was bitten by the longball. The momentum turning aspect of each of the Eagles’ homers was they happened with 2 outs.
With the score even at 1-1 in the fourth, the Eagles used some of their pop to take the lead. Nick Dietzen laced a ball inside the third base bag and down the left field line for a double to lead off the frame. Abell then induced Kevin Cook into a pop up that was caught by shortstop Scott Hodsdon. He then struck out Tony Gonzalez. But Eric Bowman jumped on an Abell offering and lined it over the left centerfield fence to give the Eagles the lead, 3-1.
Bowman led off the seventh with a single to left. After Abell got a pair of outs before Chris Foreman stepped to the plate and struck a change-up over the wall in left to extend the lead to 5-1.
Meanwhile, Hill cruised through the game running into minimal trouble. After allowing a first inning run on a Stephen Vogt sacrifice fly that brought home Coba Canales, he settled in. The Cougars threatened in the fourth when they had a chance to slice the Eagles’ 3-1 advantage.
Hodsdon hit a hard chopper down the left field line for a double. Hill then uncorked a wild pitch to move Hodsdon to third with nobody out. Hill then struck out Nick Beghtol on a slider. Nick Johnson followed with a ground ball to third. Hodsdon broke for the plate as he glanced back at Hawkins Gebbers who made a poor throw to the plate that bounced in the dirt. However, Bowman was able to reach out and snag the ball while still blocking the plate and tagged out a sliding Hodsdon. Dwight Nixon then flied out to end the threat.
The opening game proved frustrating as well for Azusa Pacific.
Biola jumped out in front in the first inning with an unearned run against Zach Pettikas. With 1 out, Chris Weems reached on an infield single. Once aboard, Weems swiped second to get in scoring position. Hawkins Gebbers then grounded a ball to the left of short that Scott Hodsdon reached down to pick up but his hurried throw was up the line allowing Weems to score the first run of the game.
Biola then broke things open with 5 runs in the third innng.
The Eagles started Jonathan Young for the first time this season and got a solid outing out of a reliever that has been stingy out of the bullpen. Young was touched up for a pair of solo homers by Nixon and Hodsdon. Nixon connected in the fourth to put the Cougars on the board. It was the first homer of his collegiate career and was a no doubt shot over the left centerfield fence. Hodsdon’s lifted a drive to left center that got out despite the appearance that he was out in front. It was an impressive piece of hitting in both at-bats but it was all Young allowed.
However, in the end, he did enough to go deep enough into the ballgame to earn the win without allowing the Cougars to do too much damage.
The losses end a frustrating week for Azusa Pacific which dropped all 4 games. The Cougars will look to get back on track next Wednesday when they host The Master’s at 5:30 p.m.