AZUSA, Calif.-- Azusa Pacific swept Biola University in extra innings in both games of the Golden State Athletic Conference doubleheader Saturday at the Cougar Softball Complex. The Cougars won by scores of 2-1 and 4-3.
In the bottom of the ninth of the first game, Eagle short stop Krista Johnson bobbled junior Nicole Llorens’ hit deep in the hole, allowing freshman pinch runner Heather Koch to race home from third base with the game-winning run.
“We have only 4 games left so we really have to finish strong,” said head coach Carrie Webber. “Especially the way we played Tuesday (lost 2 at Vanguard), this was a huge boost for us. Plus, it’s Biola. We have to beat Biola. It’s good in that respect, too, since a good rivalry always produces good games.”
Leslie-Anne Picone started the Cougar fourth innning by blasting a double to right center. Erika Marmolejo singled to right field to push Picone to third. Llorens, who had 2 RBIs in the game, reached first on a fielder’s choice that let Picone scored the game’s first run.
The Cougar defense gave a strong showing to keep Azusa Pacific in the game by making key catches in the outfield by Natalie Barnaby and Rachel Miller.
“Our defense has been really good this year,” said Webber. “We’ve done a really good job of making the plays we’re supposed to make, but also making the plays that are a little on the hard side where it’s a difference between them scoring a run and us getting the double play or getting an out.”
Freshman Rita Kim, who only gave up 4 hits in 9 innings from the circle, pitched 6 scoreless innings before the Cougars conceded the tying run in the top of the seventh. After a questionable call that put Johnson on second, Llorens bobbled Eagle Erin DaSilva’s hit and Johnson rounded third to tie the game at 1-1.
Kim kept her cool and did not a hit in the extra innings.
“We’ve been going into extra innings a lot, but we had to do what we had to do,” said Kim. “The only thing on our mind was get that runner in and that’s exactly what we did.”
Marmolejo’s double in the eighth inning of the nightcap sent Kim home with the game-winning run to end the game 4-3 in favor of the Cougars.
“I was excited going up to bat because our team was pumped,” said Marmolejo. “I just knew we were going to do it. I knew it was going to happen and our team would pull together to get the win.”
The Cougars had a strong start to the second game by scoring 2 early runs in the first inning. After Llorens walked, senior Erin Halma powered a triple to right center to score Llorens. Halma, who went 2-for-3 in the nightcap, was picked off before she could nab a run for herself.
Bekah Weisser kept the momentum rolling for the Cougars by doubling off the top of left field fence. Picone followed with another double to send Weisser in for a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the third, Azusa Pacific tacked on another run when a Marmolejo single to right field scored Weisser from third to give the Cougars a 3-0 lead.
The Eagles responded by scoring a run in the top of the fourth after Bury tripled to right field and scored off a single from Lauren Gandy.
Jillian Storm’s single straight up the middle scored Leslie Larson to make the score 3-2 in the fifth inning.
The Cougar defense could not keep the Eagles from tying the game at 3-3 in the sixth when Lyndsie Roberts’ single up the middle scored another run.
Azusa Pacific bunkered down defensively, however, in the seventh and eighth to keep Biola from scoring again.
“It was huge to get the sweep because we were tied with them in conference for fourth,” said Webber. “Sweeping them now puts us in sole position of fourth and also gives us that springboard to go into Tuesday’s game against Hope, our last home game.”
With the sweep, Azusa Pacific improves to 24-20 overall, 9-11 in GSAC. Biola drops to 17-21 overall, 7-13 in GSAC, with the loss. The Cougars host Hope International Tuesday (April 20) at the Cougar Softball Complex.