LA MIRADA, Calif. -- The NAIA’s No. 24-ranked Azusa Pacific slugged a pair of home runs, scored 7 runs, and registered 11 hits, but it wasn’t enough to pick up a highly beneficial sweep, and instead the Cougars had to settle for a split of its Golden State Athletic Conference doubleheader with Biola University, winning the first game 5-1 before the Eagles rallied to take the nightcap, 3-2.
The split keeps Azusa Pacific from grabbing a secure 2-game lead for third place in the GSAC, but rather allows Biola to stay within a game of the Cougars in fourth place.
Sophomore Brandi Andrews; 3-run homer in the fourth inning, her fourth round-tripper in 11 starts this season, offered all the offense Azusa Pacific needed in the first game, supporting the fine 5-hit pitching of fellow sophomore Taryn Devich.
The shot ended Luster’s day in the circle, but it secured Devich’s place, as she danced in and out of trouble over her final 4 innings of work and yet went unscathed. She finished with 6 strikeouts, a personal best in GSAC play this season, and stranded 7 Eagles on base, including 3 in scoring position. Devich pushed her record 6-5 on the season and lowered her ERA to 1.84 while picking up her third complete-game in 13 starts this season.
The Cougars added a pair of insurance runs on 3 singles in the seventh inning. Senior second baseman Nicole Llorens and Wilcox each pushed across a run with their only hits of the game.
In the second game, Azusa Pacific took a quick 2-0 lead on Wilcox’s team-leading seventh home run, a 2-out, 2-run blast that also scored Bekah Weisser. However, that was all the Cougars could muster off 3 Eagle pitchers, including Luster, who came out of the bullpen after Wilcox’s shot and fired 5.1 innings of shutout softball, allowing the Eagles to rally for the victory.
Biola answered with a run off Mariah Worley in the bottom of the first with a pair of singles that cut the Cougar advantage in half.
The score stayed that way until with 2 outs in the fifth inning when Worley hit Lauren Gandy, who then came home on Luster’s double to right field that tied the game at 2-2. Devich came in to relieve Worley, and Biola’s Lyndsie Roberts greetsed her with a single to left-center that sent Luster home with what proved to be the game-winning run.
Wilcox and Angie Sprague each had 3 hits on the day, and Wilcox had a hand in 4 of Azusa Pacific 7 runs.
With the split Azusa Pacific moves to 20-16 on the season, 5-5 in the GSAC, while Biola is now 23-17, 4-6 in the GSAC.