AZUSA, Calif. -- For the second time this season Scott Hodsdon started on the mound for Azusa Pacific and for the second time he finished what he began.
Scattering 10 hits and helping his own cause at the plate, Hodsdon fired a complete game leading the Cougars to a 6-1 win over The Master’s.
With the Cougars searching for a quality start they turned to Hodsdon whose intense, gritty play has been one of the constants for this team.
“Our starters haven’t pitched well in March and we needed to do something,” said head coach Paul Svagdis. “Scott is a competitor and he took us on his shoulders. He has been doing it offensively and defensively and tonight gave us a huge pick up.”
Buoyed by the efforts of their starting pitcher, the offense pieced together enough offense with the help of numerous Mustang mistakes to help Azusa Pacific snap its 5-game losing streak.
For all the things that went the Cougars way, it was the Mustangs that opened the scoring in the top of the third inning. After Hodsdon struck out Robert Short to open the frame, Pete Olson and Daniel Flores hit back-to-back singles putting runners at first and second. Zane Jensen then whiffed but Tom Barrington picked up him up with an RBI hit to left that scored Olson putting The Master’s ahead 1-0.
The Cougars responded in the bottom of the third with the tying run. With 1 out, Coba Canales and Hodsdon each singled to put runners at the corners. Stephen Gillette then brought the run in from third with less than 2 outs with a ground ball fielder’s choice to the right side of the infield.
The Cougars put together a 3-run rally against Mustang starter Mike Weiss in the fourth. Shaun Lane led off with a single and moved to second when James O’Neill walked. Then Johnny Soberal laid down a sacrifice bunt that Weiss fielded but his throw to first went wide of the bag and down the right field line. Lane and O’Neill came around to score to make it 3-1 while Soberal wound up at second.
Weiss then promptly balked Soberal to third base while facing Dwight Nixon. With a 1-1 count, Mustangs coach Monte Brooks removed Weiss from the game in favor of Brian Jeanjaquet. The reliever retired Nixon on a pop up and Kirk Nieuwenhuis on a ground ball before he uncorked a wild pitch that negated his good work by allowing Soberal to race home to make it 4-1 Cougars.
Soberal later added an RBI single in the seventh when Azusa Pacific got a pair of runs that broke open the game. Lane, who had earlier reached on a fielder’s choice, scored on a balk by Tyler Brown.
While his pitching took center stage Hodsdon’s hit extended his hitting streak to 9 games. “I’m feeling comfortable at the plate right now,” he said. “I just want to put a good swing on it to help the team.”
As for his work on the hill, Hodsdon just wanted to do what he could to get a win. “This was a huge game – probably the most important of the season and I was excited to get the start,” he said. “I just want to give the team a chance to win. We are going to put up a fight to get into the playoffs.”
He finished the game with no walks and 8 strikeouts and lowered his ERA to 2.70.
In the ninth inning the Mustangs got their first 2 men aboard on solid base hits including a shot to straightaway centerfield by J.T. Adams. Pitching coach Justin Duarte visited the mound but Hodsdon stayed in the game and got out of the jam without allowing a run striking out Short to end it.
“He wants to be in those situations and we left it in the kid’s hands,” said Svagdis of the choice not to go to the bullpen. “I’m very proud of him.”
With the win Azusa Pacific betters its record to 18-16. It will take the weekend off before resuming play on April 4 against Redlands at Cougar Field.