AZUSA, Calif. –- Point Loma Nazarene used a perfectly placed suicide squeeze to rally for one victory and then broke out the heavy guns to make quick work of the second game as the NAIA’s No. 20-ranked Sea Lions swept a GSAC-opening doubleheader over Azusa Pacific, taking the first game 4-2 in 8 innings before needing just 6 innings to claim a 9-0 mercy-ruled victory in the nightcap.
Laressa Newman’s perfectly-placed suicide squeeze with 1-out in the top of the eighth scored Amanda Ricker to break a 2-2 tie and propel the Sea Lions to the victory. Newman, who earlier in the game snapped a scoreless tie when she led off the fifth with a single to center and then came home on Samantha Hall’s 1-out single to left, pushed a bunt just far enough down the third base line to send Ricker home in front of a late tag. Newman then scored on Paige Powell’s 2-out single to center to add an insurance run.
Newman’s play allowed All-GSAC pitcher K.C. Robertson to be rewarded for her sparkling pitching performance. Robertson yielded just 5 hits and was the victim of 2 unearned runs that allowed Azusa Pacific to take a 2-1 lead after 5 innings. Lori Shimasaki laced a 2-out single to center to score Bailey Blazek to give the Cougars a short-lived lead.
Point Loma knotted the game at 2-2 in the top of the sixth when Cougar hurler Erin Halma, who had been sharp throughout the entire game, suffered a momentary lapse of control, walking a pair of Sea Lions, including Hall when the bases were loaded.
The Cougars appeared to be setting the stage for a possible victory when Halma led off the bottom of the seventh with a rocket to the right field gap. However, she was gunned down trying to stretch a double into a triple by an accurate relay from Sea Lion shortstop Amber Randel.
Halma suffered the loss, her second in 3 decisions, but she was the victim of 4 Cougar errors and allowed just 2 earned runs in the 8 innings of work.
In the second game, Point Loma jumped on Cougar pitcher Camille Hundley for 5 runs in the first 3 innings, including 3 in the first, and never looked back. Allie Boecklemn’s 1-out single to right scored Jessica Hibma and Paige Powell to highlight the frame.
The Sea Lions added single runs in the second and third to chase Hundley, and then iced the game with 4 more runs off Halma in the top of the sixth. Hibma’s 2-out single to center scored 2 runs to highlight the outburst. Hibma, who was held hitless in the first game, was 2-for-3 in the nightcap with 3 RBIs and 3 runs scored.
Shimasaki paced the Cougar offense on the day, going 3-for-7 with a pair of stolen bases and an RBI.
With the sweep, Point Loma Nazarene improves to 4-0 on the season, 2-0 in the GSAC. The Cougars fall to 1-5 overall, 0-2 in the GSAC.