RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The heat – both from the atmospheric temperature and the moment – got to Azusa Pacific, which came within 3 out of posting its first-ever victory over a No. 1-ranked team. Instead, the Cougars dropped their second straight GSAC doubleheader, falling to top-ranked California Baptist University, 3-2 in 8 innings, and 8-0 in a run-ruled nightcap.
Junior pitcher Camille Hundley was spectacular in the opening game, both at the plate and in the circle. After surrendering a first-inning run, Hundley held the GSAC’s top offense in check through the next 6 innings of work, giving the Cougars and herself a chance at Azusa Pacific’s first win over the Lancers since 2004.
At the plate, Hundley took matters into her own hands. She led off the fourth inning with a double to right-center field. One out later pinch runner Bailey Blazek raced home from third with the game-tying run on an Erin Halma ground-out. Hundley then gave the Cougars a 2-1 lead in the top of the eighth on an infield single that pushed Cassie Treischel home.
However, Hundley the pitcher, who had escaped unscathed after allowing back-to-back doubles in the fourth inning and left 4 Lancers in scoring position in other innings, couldn’t hold off CBU any longer. In the bottom of the eighth the Lancers applied the pressure by loading the bases with no outs. A botched play on an infield grounder didn’t help the Cougar cause. Cal Baptist tied the game at 2-2 on a sacrifice fly and then won it on a grounder on the next at-bat.
“I think we caught them off-guard in the first game,” said Cougar centerfield Jen Whitten, who had 1 of the Cougars’ 6 hits in the first game. “They seemed a little flat, and when we didn’t’ go away, they had a hard time turning it on. We were right there and almost had it.”
There was no taking Cal Baptist by surprise in the second game. Hundley, who was so sharp in the first game, started the second in hope that she could continue her mastery of the Lancers. However, Cal Baptist greeted her with 4 consecutive singles to take a quick 2-0 lead. They touched her up for 2 more runs, both unearned, in the second inning to double their advantage to 4-0 and chase Hundley from the game.
Reliever Jeanette Murad had no success against the Lancer heavy artillery, surrendering 4 runs on 4 more hits in the third inning to give Cal Baptist an 8-0 advantage.
The rest was up to Lancer pitcher Melanie Ahumada, who shut down the Cougars the entire game, yielding just 1 hit -– a Halma fourth-inning single – and forcing the game to end midway through the fifth inning.
“We were dragging in the second game,” added Whitten. “The heat was killing everyone, and we just seemed to be slow in everything we did.”
Despite the double setback, Azusa Pacific retains its hold on third place in the GSAC. The Cougars fall to 19-22 overall, 9-9 in the GSAC, 2 games ahead of fourth-place Vanguard University with 6 games left. They’ll make a case for their first playoff berth in 4 years when they visit Vanguard Tuesday (April 15) in a crucial GSAC doubleheader in the Costa Mesa.