AZUSA, Calif. -- It was a lively performance by Azusa Pacific that included fundamental at-bats with runners at third base, the use of the long ball to drive in more runs, outstanding starting pitching and a perfect strike to throw out a runner at the plate.
All encompassed with some hit batters and retaliation plunkings it added up to a 6-2 win over Point Loma Nazarene in the opening game of a GSAC doubleheader. The Sea Lions earned a split with a 4-2 win in the nightcap.
But the most vivid moments during a full day of hardball occurred in the opener during which the Cougars played with a confident, yet controlled, swagger that was buoyed by a 3-run rally in the bottom of the second in response to the Sea Lions who took a 1-0 lead in the top of the frame.
Scott Hodsdon led off by whacking a double to right. He came around to score on a 2-bagger by Stephen Vogt who lined a letter high fastball down the left field line to tie the game, 1-1.
An errant throw by the shortstop allowed Nick Johnson to reach second and Vogt third base. After Nick Beghtol lined out, Stephen Gillette’s infield knock scored Vogt to give the Cougars the 2-1 lead. The final run scored on an RBI groundout by James O’Neill.
Matters turned feisty in the sixth when Hodsdon crushed his ninth home run over the left centerfield fence to make it a 4-1 game. Point Loma Nazarene starter Taylor Cameron then drilled Vogt with the next pitch. Vogt and Cameron each glared at each other as the designated hitter then tossed his bat aside and proceeded to first base. Cameron was immediately ejected which brought cries of disbelief from the Sea Lions.
Azusa Pacific head coach Paul Svagdis was not happy with Cameron’s ploy and he exchanged words with first base coach Phil Plantier. Meanwhile, the Cougar dugout had erupted when Vogt was hit and spilled onto the field hollering all the way at the Sea Lions.
The following inning, Azusa Pacific starter Andrew Abell, who pitched beautifully all afternoon, stuck a fastball into the back of Kurt Steinhauer and order was restored. Steinhauer, however, would get his revenge in the second game. Interestingly enough, neither Abell nor Svagdis were ejected by an umpiring crew that perhaps allowed them to stay because of Cameron’s obvious intent.
Abell went on to complete 7 innings of work as he scattered 7 hits while not walking a batter as he earned his fifth win of the year.
In the second game of the twinbill, Steinhauer hit a pair of home runs of off Hodsdon leading the Sea Lions to a 4-2 win. Chris Hill and Robbie Naegele limited the Cougars to just 2 runs in 7 innings.
Despite taking the loss in the second game, Hodsdon went 5-for-6 at the plate to raise his batting average to .435. Over his past 5 games he is 9-for-18 with a home run and 6 RBIs. He has also scored 7 runs during that span.
Azusa Pacific will begin its final week of the regular season next Wednesday when it travels to Concordia. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.