AZUSA, Calif. -- Ross Stout and Aaron Hartsock have been excellent in the California Baptist starting rotation all season long.
They both had their final tune-up for the postseason this afternoon against Azusa Pacific and each showed why the Lancers are a team to be reckoned with. In game 1, Stout pitched into the ninth inning leading them to a 4-2 win.
In the nightcap, Hartsock pitched a complete game helping the NAIA's No.3-ranked California Baptist to a 9-2 victory.
For the Cougars it was another frustrating day at the plate. They scored 4 runs in 16 innings and had a sinking liner off the bat of Nick Beghtol caught in right field that surely would have tied the game in the bottom of the ninth inning of the opener.
Some of it might have been breaks but a lot of it had to do with the way Stout went about his business. Mixing a variety of pitches, he kept Azusa Pacific off balance all afternoon. He threw over 100 pitches but was efficient with his control walking only 1 while striking out 12.
The Cougars got a quality start from Kirk Nieuwenhuis who allowed 3 runs over 6 innings. The freshman right-hander struck out 7 batters and hit his fourth home run of the season for the Cougars first run of the game for good measure.
In the bottom of the ninth trailing 4-1, the Cougars loaded the bases against Stout chasing him from the ballgame. Kyle Thomas relieved with 2 outs but walked Nieuwenhuis to force in a run to make it 4-2. The Lancers closer Mike Jones was then summoned from the bullpen. He gave up a sharp line drive to Beghtol but it was caught on the run and the threat was vanquished.
In the second game, Aaron Seuss had a monster game blasting 2 home runs – a 3-run shot that hooked just inside the left field line foul pole and a 2-run blast over the left centerfield fence.
Hartsock made it stand up as he limited the Cougars to RBIs from Stephen Vogt and Beghtol.
For Azusa Pacific it was a disappointing final day in a season that has seen peaks and valleys throughout it. However, there were several individual accomplishments that proved to be significant. Scott Hodsdon along with Vogt both finish the season hitting well over .400. Nieuwenhuis also had a solid initial campaign as part of a young group of Cougars that will be a part of the program for years to come.
The Cougars lose 3 seniors at the close of the campaign. Coba Canales leaves with a career batting average that exceeds .300 while Andrew Abell and Guy McDowell each had 5 wins in their final campaign.
Azusa Pacific concludes its season with a record of 24-25 and a 16-16 mark in the GSAC conference.