KANEOHE, Hawai‘i -- Azusa Pacific rallied from a 6-5 deficit with four runs in the seventh inning of what was shaping up to be a doubleheader sweep at the hands of Hawai‘i Pacific, salvaging a split with the 9-6 victory after a 3-1 defeat in the opener.
Renae Chappelle’s fielder’s choice grounder to first base resulted in an error that allowed the tying and go-ahead runs to score with one out in the seventh, and the Cougars added two runs to the cushion for the final three-run margin.
Six Cougars registered two or more hits in the win, including three hits each from Madison Hernandez and Heather Koch, and freshman pitcher Narissa Garcia spun 5.2 innings of one-run, five-hit relief to hold off the Sea Warriors and collect the victory. Garcia halted a Hawai‘i Pacific offense that had already plated five runs less than two innings into the contest, retiring eight in a row at one point, and 10 of the final 11 batters she faced, to close out the game.
Earlier in the game, Azusa Pacific had pulled within a run at 5-4 with a two-run fourth inning, which featured consecutive run-scoring hits from Hernandez and Koch. Two innings later, Hernandez hit a run-scoring single that kept the Cougars within a run at 6-5, setting up the seventh-inning rally.
In the seventh, Brandi Andrews led off with a single, which was followed by a lineout and back-to-back singles from Rachel Miller and Jac Harkey that loaded bases with one out. Chappelle hit a fielder’s choice grounder to first base, and the throw home was off line, allowing both Andrews and Miller to score the tying and go-ahead runs in the frame. Angie Sprague followed with an RBI single, pushing the Cougars’ lead to 8-6, and another fielder’s choice play brought in one more insurance run for a 9-6 margin. Hawai‘i Pacific got a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh, but the next two batters flied out to end the game.
Along with the three-hit performances from Hernandez and Koch, Sprague went two-for-five in the leadoff spot, while Andrews, Miller, and Harkey registered two hits each as the Cougars combined for 16 hits in the contest.
Rita Kim surrendered just three hits in the opener, but she took the loss despite surrendering just one earned run in the complete-game effort. She struck out five and walked four, and the Cougar defense committed three errors, all during the sixth inning, which allowed Hawai‘i Pacific to break a 1-1 tie with a pair of unearned runs.
The lone Azusa Pacific run came on Katrina Oviedo’s two-out single in the top of the third inning. However, Sea Warriors pitcher Kristen Caskey retired the next 11 Cougar hitters before Koch singled with one out in the seventh and Miller did so with two outs to put the potential tying run on base. Caskey induced a game-ending groundout to preserve the victory for Hawai‘i Pacific.
With the split, Azusa Pacific is now 15-13 overall and 7-9 in Pacific West Conference play, while Hawai‘i Pacific is now 11-11 overall and 4-8 in the PacWest. The Cougars wrap up the Hawai‘i road trip with a visit to BYU-Hawaii on Thursday, March 28. A makeup date for Monday’s rained-out doubleheader with Chaminade has not yet been announced.