AZUSA, Calif. –- This is just what the doctor ordered – a pair of victories that featured clutch pitching and timely hitting – to cure what has ailed Azusa Pacific.
The Cougars swept a nonconference doubleheader from Cal State San Marcos Tuesday evening in Azusa, taking 4-3 and 9-5 decisions to snap a 6-game losing streak and hopefully set them back on the right track.
In the first game, freshman pitcher Erin Halma did what she does best, scattering hits and leaving a boatload of runners on base while picking up the victory. In addition, she produced the game-winning hit to lead the Cougars to the comeback victory.
With Azusa Pacific trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Cougars knotted the game at 3-3 on Courtney Cleaves’ infield single that plated Justine Barnett. With 2 outs, Halma then laced a single down the right field line that allowed Cleaves to scoot around the bases for the go-ahead run.
The rest was up to Halma, but it wasn’t easy. She stranded a San Marcos runner at second base in the top of the sixth inning and then tap-danced out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh by striking out Amanda Sanchez looking and then inducing a come-backer off the bat of Holly Russell to clinch the victory.
In the process, Halma lowered her team-leading ERA to 3.01. She had to throw 110 pitches, scatter 9 CSUSM hits, and leave 10 runners on base. In fact, Cal State San Marcos had runners on base in every inning but one. However, that just seems to be a normal day at the office for the freshman hurler out of Valley Christian High. Over her past 29.2 innings of work, Halma has yielded 37 hits and yet allowed a mere 4 earned runs (9 runs all together).
In the second game, Azusa Pacific jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first inning and then stayed just far enough ahead of Cal State San Marcos over the next 6 innings to hold on for the 9-5 victory.
The Cougars scored in each of the first 3 innings, owning a 6-2 lead after freshman Tierney Burk slugged her first collegiate home run, a 2-run shot over the leftfield wall that also scored Bre Anderson.
Cal State San Marcos rallied back to within 2 runs at 6-4 with single runs in the fourth and fifth innings, and Burk’s quick decision on a grounder to first combined with catcher Natalie Mickelson’s nifty tag at home plate kept CSUSM from scoring more in the fifth.
Azusa Pacific put the game away with 3 more runs in the bottom of the fifth, parlaying 2 San Marcos errors into a pair of runs while using Tami Carter’s fourth hit of the game, a single to right, to tally the other run.
Azusa Pacific’s offensive outburst allowed Anderson to record a complete-game victory for her first collegiate win. Like her classmate Halma, Anderson too worked in and out of danger the entire game. San Marcos had runners in scoring position in every inning except the seventh and left 12 runners on base.
Cal State San Marcos out-hit Azusa Pacific, 14-11, in the second game.
With the sweep, Azusa Pacific improves to 12-16 on the season while Cal State San Marcos, a first-year program, falls to 6-20.