FULLERTON, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific produced just enough timely hits and took advantage of some shoddy defense to collect its first GSAC doubleheader sweep of the season, downing Hope International University, 2-1 and 7-6 in 12 innings Saturday afternoon.
The Cougars managed just 9 hits in the 19 innings of play, but Hope International committed 8 errors and 1 back-breaking passed ball leading 8 of the Cougars’ 9 runs being unearned.
In the opening game, with Hope International clinging to a 1-0 lead, Royal pitcher Kayla Uphold was on roll, retiring the first 14 Cougars she faced until Erika Marmolejo and Lindsay Clark produced back-to-back 2-out singles in the fifth inning. Other than the break-up of a perfect game, the damage seemed to be harmless until Royal third baseman Janelle Medor booted Brandi Andrews routine inning-ending grounder which instead kept the inning alive for Natalie Barnaby, whose single back up the middle plated pinch-runner Adrianna Martinez to tie the game at 1-1.
In the top of the sixth, freshman Angie Sprague reached first on a fielding error by HIU first baseman Bree Briones. A pair of stolen bases put her at third base from where she scored the game-winning run with 2 outs when Royal catcher Sheyna Alarcon mishandled a pitch that went to the backstop.
That was enough of a cushion for Cougar freshman pitcher Rita Kim, who after allowing a first-inning run off a wild pitch, scattered 7 hits over the next 6 shutout innings, striking out 6 in the process, to pick up her second collegiate victory in 7 decisions this season. She danced out of trouble in the bottom of the seventh after the Royals put the tying run at second base with consecutive 1-out singles. Kim, however, struck out Danielle Thomson and got Uphold to ground out to end the game.
In the nightcap, Leslie-Anne Picone’s single down the rightfield line scored Jac Harkey to give Azusa Pacific a 2-run advantage in the 12th inning which was enough to allow the Cougars to hang on for its 55th win in their past 56 meetings with Hope International.
The Royals committed 6 errors in the game, including 3 that led to 3 first-inning unearned runs and a quick 3-0 Azusa Pacific lead. The Royals came back to tie the game with 2 runs in the fifth and another in the sixth, taking advantage of Azusa Pacific’s own fielding miscues, including back-to-back 2-out errors in the fifth that kept the inning alive for the 2 runs to score.
In extra innings, both teams scored in the eighth and ninth innings, but Kim, who came on in relief of starter Mariah Worley to start the eighth, kept the Royals from scoring in the ninth and tenth innings and then struck out her seventh batter in just 5 innings of relief work to pick up her second win on the day.
Picone finished the game 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs, which included a 2-out run-scoring single up the middle to plate Rachel Miller in the ninth inning. All-GSAC Erin Halma also had 2 hits in the game, including 1-out eighth inning triple that scored Nicole Llorens. Marmolejo had a hit in each game, including a first-inning RBI single in the second game.
Kim enjoyed her best day as a Cougar, allowing just 1 earned run in 12 innings of work, while striking out 13 in the process and walking just 3 batters. She improves her record to 3-5 on the season and now has 57 strikeouts in 72 innings of work.
With the sweep, Azusa Pacific improves to 17-13 overall, 4-6 in the GSAC, while Hope International falls to 10-18 overall, 0-12 in the GSAC.