Hope International scored 3 runs in the top of sixth to rally for an 8-7 victory over Azusa Pacific in the opening game of a Golden State Athletic Conference doubleheader Saturday afternoon at the Cougar Softball Complex. Not only is the victory HIU’s first GSAC win of the seaswon, but it was the Royals’ first over Azusa Pacific since 1994, snapping the Cougars’ 44-game winning streak against Hope International.
Azusa Pacific collected itself from the surprising defeat and rebounded to hold on for a 6-5 victory in the second game.
In the opening game, Azusa Pacific moved out to a quick 3-1 lead after 1 inning of play but was never able to put away from the Royals. In fact, the Cougars needed a pair of fifth-inning runs to re-take the lead at 6-5 heading into the fateful sixth inning.
In that frame, Hope put its first 2 runners on base with a walk and a bunt single. Lisa Teberg’s single then scored Brittney Hoban to tie the game at 6-6. It appeared the Cougars were going to escape further damage when pitching ace Camille Hundley came out of the bullpen and promptly secured 2 outs. However, Brenda Magana laced Hundley’s first offering back up the middle to push across 2 more Royals and give Hope International an 8-6 lead.
Tierney Burk retaliated for Azusa Pacific with a solo home run in the seventh to pull the Cougars to within a run at 8-7, but they were unable to tally more, leaving the game-tying run in scoring position as the game ended.
Hope International took advantage of 3 Cougar fielding miscues to score 3 unearned runs. The Royals scored at least 1 run in each of the first 6 innings and registered 12 hits to post its first win in Azusa since 1991, snapping another lengthy losing streak, a 26-gamer for contests played in the Canyon City.
In the second game Azusa Pacific exploded for 5 runs, all with 2 outs in the fourth inning, to roll out to a 6-2 lead. Bailey Blazek’s single up the middle scored Natalie Mickelson to get the Cougars off and rolling. All-GSAC second baseman Tami Carter capped the inning with a 2-run single that plated Justine Barnett and Courtney Cleaves.
Hope added a single run in the top of the fifth to make it 6-3, Azusa Pacific, and then tallied 2 more in the top of the seventh to rally to within a run at 6-5. The Royals threat became more serious when they loaded the bases later in the inning, but freshman pitcher Erin Halma, who endured the loss in the first game, came on in relief of Bre Anderson and induced Hoban into a game-ending ground out, leaving the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position and posting Azusa Pacific’s first save of the season. Hundley, who worked the first 5 innings while dancing around 12 Royal hits, picked up the victory to move her record to 7-6.
Barnett, who is enjoying a breakthrough season, pushed her hitting streak to a modest 5 games by going 4-for-7 on the day with 2 runs and a stolen base. The leftfielder also made a spectacular running catch in second game and then proceeded to double up a runner at second base with a laser throw. She is now batting a career-high .320 on the season. At the plate, Halma was 3-for-6 in the doubleheader with 3 runs and an RBI. Senior Jessi Besseghini was 3-for-4 in the first game with a pair of RBIs, including 1 that gave the Cougars their 3-1 lead in teh first inning.
With the split, Azusa Pacific’s overall record moves to 13-17, while it’s GSAC mark stands at 3-11. Hope International is 10-26 on the season, 1-13 in the GSAC.