AZUSA, Calif. --- Azusa Pacific opened its 2007 campaign with a bang – literally. A day after going deep 3 times in the Cougars’ 22-7 season-opening victory at Cal State San Marcos, Azusa Pacific returned home to send another 4 out in a 17-5, 7-4 doubleheader sweep of Cal State San Marcos, a first-year program competing as an NAIA independent.
Senior Scott Hodsdon batted 4-for-5, homered twice, drove in 5 runs and struck out 5 in 6 innings on the mound to lead Azusa Pacific to a 17-5 win in the first game. After a pair of hits in his first 3 at-bats, Hodsdon crushed a Grant Harrell offering over the left field fence for a 2-run home run in the fifth inning, then slammed a line drive the other direction for a solo shot in the seventh inning to give the Cougars a 14-2 lead.
A day after batting 3-for-5 with a pair of home runs, sophomore Stephen Gillette continued his impressive start to the new campaign after batting .234 with just 4 extra-base hits as a 2006 freshman. Gillette led off the bottom of the second with his third home run of the season, and he finished the opener 2-for-2 with 3 RBIs.
Azusa Pacific sent 11 batters to the plate in the fourth inning, turning a 5-1 game into a commanding 11-1 advantage. Hodsdon hit a bases-loaded double to score the first 2 of the inning, then came around to score on sophomore Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ 2-run single. Gillette, who had homered in the second, drew a walk, and junior Eddie Crespo and junior James O’Neill slapped back-to-back RBI singles to score Nieuwenhuis and Gillette.
Senior catcher Stephen Vogt was 4-for-6 in the first game and batted 2-for-3 with a walk in the nightcap, finishing his weekend 9-for-14 with a double, a home run, 2 walks and 4 RBIs. Vogt, a career .438 hitter entering the season, now has 195 career hits, fifth in Azusa Pacific history, and with 5 more hits, the 3-time NAIA All-American will become just the third Cougar to collect 200 career hits.
After surrendering 4 unearned runs in the third inning to fall behind 4-3 in the nightcap, junior lefty Zach Pettikas came on in relief to start the fourth inning to retire 7 of the first 8 batters he faced, including 4 strikeouts.
After Azusa Pacific scored 2 on a 2-out error in the fifth inning to retake the lead at 5-4, Pettikas had to work himself out of a sixth-inning jam. Juan Perez doubled to the gap in right field with 1 out, and Mitch McNamara drew a walk to give Cal State San Marcos runners on first and second with 1 out. Pinch-hitter Adam Ricciardulli flied out to center, and Pettikas struck out Matt Castro to end the threat and put the Cougars within 3 outs of the win.
With 2 outs in the bottom of the sixth, Hodsdon singled to right field, and Nieuwenhuis followed it up with a 2-run laser over the right-field fence, giving Azusa Pacific a couple of insurance runs for a 7-4 lead, and Pettikas induced 3 groundouts in the top of the seventh to pick up the victory and seal the weekend sweep.
Cal State San Marcos senior Scott Shapiro, a San Diego Padres 18th-round selection out of St. Augustine High School in Oceanside in 2001 and a .340 hitter as a 2001 freshman at Vanderbilt, hit safely in all 3 games of the series, finishing today’s doubleheader 3-for-5. Shapiro hit a 2-out, 3-run home run in the top of the third inning of the nightcap to give Cal State San Marcos a 4-3 lead.
With the wins, Azusa Pacific improves to 3-0 on the season, the Cougars’ first 3-0 start to a season since 2004. Cal State San Marcos, competing as an NAIA independent in its first-ever baseball season, drops to 0-4. Azusa Pacific hosts another NAIA independent next weekend, as Bethany visits Azusa for a 6 p.m. contest Friday followed by an 11 a.m. doubleheader on Sat., Feb. 3.