IRVINE, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific’s starting rotation has undergone a bit of a reshuffling of the deck in recent weeks.
And, in a must win game during the last week of the regular season, the Cougars’ Zach Pettikas came up an ace as he pitched his team to a 3-1 win over Concordia on Wednesday afternoon.
Can Azusa Pacific reach the postseason? It remains a hope with a heartbeat after Pettikas foiled the Eagles all afternoon not allowing an earned run while limiting their tough line-up to only 3 hits.
Guy McDowell pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning as he picked up his second save of the season.
After a pair of slugfests earlier this season, the teams got quality pitching to keep the ballgame a low scoring affair. Not a fireballer, Pettikas kept the Eagles off balance with an assortment of pitches. He changed speeds and was consistently in and around the strike zone which helped him pick up his first win since February 25.
The Cougars scored first in the second inning when Nick Beghtol followed a walk to Stephen Vogt with a ringing double to drive him in to make it 1-0 against Concordia starter Enrique Lechuga.
However, the lead did not last long as the Eagles took advantage of several Cougar mistakes to tie the game. Andrew James reached on an error by Shaun Lane winding up at second base on a bad throw. He moved to third base on a groundout and then scored on a wild pitch thrown by Pettikas.
In the fourth, Vogt reached base again leading off an inning this time with a single into left field. Then a Nick Johnson base hit to center moved him to third. Johnson was thrown out on the play trying to stretch his single into a double. Beghtol again ripped a double inside the third base bag and into the left field corner to plate Vogt for a 2-1 lead.
It’s safe to say that Vogt can flat out rake.
Since his returned to the line-up on April 18, he is 6-for-8 at the plate with a double and 3 RBIs. He has also walked 4 times and been hit by a pitch. He is slugging .875 over that 5 game span.
In the seventh, Vogt’s RBI single made it 3-1 Cougars and Pettikas was making it stand up all the while.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis added 3 hits for Azusa Pacific which rapped out 12 on the day.
Azusa Pacific (24-22, 16-13) remains in fifth place in the GSAC trailing Point Loma Nazarene (31-15, 17-11), which lost 8-5 to Biola, by 1.5 games in the standings. The Cougars would have to overtake the Sea Lions to earn a berth into the postseason. Point Loma Nazarene has 4 games remaining while Azusa Pacific has 3 left on the schedule.
While the Sea Lions host Biola tomorrow, the Cougars will travel back to Irvine to take on the Eagles at 3 p.m.