TURLOCK, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific split its final two games at the Tournament of Champions, defeating Chico State, 2-1, for its 20th win of the season following a 4-1 defeat earlier Saturday to Cal State Monterey Bay. With the split, the Cougars have won six of their past eight as they resume Pacific West Conference play next week for the final 12 games of the regular season.
Senior pitcher Rita Kim gave up just one run while striking out five, tossing a complete-game four-hitter to lead Azusa Pacific to the 2-1 win over Chico State in the Cougars’ tournament finale. Kim was backed by single runs scored in each of the first two innings, and that was all she needed as she retired the final 13 hitters she faced after giving up the lone Wildcat run in the third inning.
A one-out bunt single from senior centerfielder Angie Sprague got the offense started in the bottom of the first inning. After advancing to third on an error, Sprague scored on Madison Hernandez’s RBI groundout to give Azusa Pacific an early 1-0 lead.
An inning later, another error extended the inning for the Cougars, who capitalized on the miscue for an unearned run that pushed the edge to 2-0. Kim led off the frame with a single, and an error on Heather Koch’s sacrifice bunt attempt put runners at second and third with no outs. A one-out squeeze bunt resulted in a play at home on Kim, who was thrown out for the second out, but Sona Babayan drew a throw to second on a stolen base attempt, which allowed Koch to score from third before Babayan was tagged for the third out.
Azusa Pacific loaded the bases with one out in the sixth inning, but Chico State pitcher Alex Molina ended the threat with consecutive groundouts. Molina gave up five hits without issuing a walk, and she recorded two strikeouts while allowing two unearned runs.
The Cougars were also limited to five hits in the first game of the day, a 4-1 loss to Cal State Monterey Bay. Azusa Pacific’s only run off Otters starting pitcher Lindsey Clarkson was unearned, as Clarkson struck out six in a complete-game effort.
Cal State Monterey Bay took the early lead with a pair of runs in the third inning off Cougar freshman Narissa Garcia. A pair of infield singles for Azusa Pacific were followed by an error, loading the bases with one out in the bottom of the third. A fielder’s choice groundout for sophomore second baseman Katrina Oviedo brought in the Cougars’ only run of the game, and Clarkson got another groundout to get out of trouble with a 2-1 lead.
A two-run home run for Cori Reinhardt in the top of the sixth extended the Cal State Monterey Bay lead to 4-1. After going three up and three down in the bottom of the sixth, Azusa Pacific put two runners on base with one out in the bottom of the seventh before consecutive fly outs ended the game.
Sprague and Oviedo each hit safely in both of Saturday’s games, with Oviedo going 9-for-16 (.563) in the five games of tournament play. Hernandez (5-for-15) and Rachel Miller (6-for-18) both batted .333 in the tournament for the Cougars.
Azusa Pacific hosts California Baptist on Friday, April 12, in the first of six PacWest doubleheaders that close out the regular season. Following visits to California Baptist (April 13) and Dixie State (April 19-20), the Cougars will finish the year at home against Grand Canyon for doubleheaders on April 26-27.