COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Vanguard finally snapped Azusa Pacific’s 35-inning scoreless-inning streak, but the NAIA’s No. 9-ranked Cougars opened up GSAC play by averaging a run per inning in a 4-0, 10-5 sweep of the Lions Tuesday afternoon in Costa Mesa.
In the opener, junior pitcher Taryn Devich struck out six Vanguard batters in a complete-game five-hitter as she registered her fifth consecutive shutout performance and extended her personal shutout streak to 29 consecutive scoreless innings in the team’s sixth consecutive shutout performance.
Devich successfully navigated out of difficult situations in the second and seventh innings to keep the streak alive, and Angie Sprague set the tone for the Cougar offense from the get-go with an infield single and a run in the first inning of the game. Sprague moved to second on a sacrifice, stole third, and scored on a wild pitch to allow Devich to pitch the entire game with a lead.
After giving up a leadoff single in the second inning, Devich surrendered another hit between a pair of sacrifice bunts that put runners at second and third with two outs. However, Devich got one of her six strikeouts to end the threat, and Azusa Pacific got a three-run fifth underway with another leadoff single, this one off the bat of junior leftfielder Rachel Miller. Her single to left was followed by Natalie Barnaby’s bunt for a base hit, and a fielder’s choice bunt and hit-batter loaded the bases for an Olivia Wilcox RBI single that pushed the lead to 2-0. After an infield fly for the second out, Brandi Andrews connected for the fourth hit of the inning, a single to left that scored a pair of two-out runs.
Vanguard got another two runners on in the seventh, both with one out, but Devich left them there to end the game with back-to-back fly outs to preserve the shutout.
In the second game, it was Vanguard’s turn to strike first, as the Lions took a 3-0 lead in the first inning on a Breanne Gomez RBI double followed by Brittney Boggs’ two-run home run. That snapped a run of 35 consecutive scoreless innings with the first runs scored against the Cougars since March 8 during an 8-6 win over No. 14-ranked Olivet Nazarene.
The Cougars had runners on base in each of the first three frames but had yet to score until Andrews led off the fourth with a home run, her fifth of the season. With two outs in the fourth inning, a Vanguard error scored another run that cut the deficit to 3-2 while keeping the inning alive, and the Cougars capitalized for four more to complete a six-run frame and take a 6-3 lead. Wilcox smashed a three-run home run in the inning, and Barnaby registered a bases-loaded one-out triple in the fifth inning to push the lead to 9-3. Senior 1B Erika Marmolejo drove in another with a double in the sixth, and it wasn’t until two outs in the bottom of the seventh when Vanguard scored again to cut the final margin to 10-5.
Rita Kim collected the win, improving to 8-2 on the year, and Mariah Worley threw the final two innings of relief in the second game. Wilcox drove in four runs on the day, going one-for-three in each game, while Barnaby finished the day three-for-seven with two runs and three RBIs to help lead the Cougar offense.
Azusa Pacific, whose scheduled GSAC opener at Hope International last Saturday was rained out, heads into Saturday’s home doubleheader against No. 3-ranked Concordia with a 28-4 overall record. Vanguard falls to 18-15 overall, 2-4 GSAC.