RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- Although it might have been understandable for Azusa Pacific to allow any disappointment to set in after suffering a 10-2 mercy-rule defeat to California Baptist in the opener of Saturday’s doubleheader, the Cougars simply shrugged it off and rallied for an impressive 6-5 extra-inning win to secure a split and end the Lancers’ season-best eight-game winning streak.
Sophomore second baseman Katrina Oviedo went four-for-four in the second game, and her leadoff double in the top of the eighth inning put her in scoring position for senior first baseman Brandi Andrews’ game-winning RBI on a one-out infield hit later in the inning.
After California Baptist scored 10 runs on 14 hits in the opening-game win, then plated two runs in the first inning and a leadoff base hit in the second inning of the nightcap, senior pitcher Rita Kim finally brought the Lancer bats in check. Kim allowed just one more hit over the next four innings to allow Azusa Pacific to regain control of the game with a three-run sixth.
Oviedo led off three different innings with base hits, and the Cougars scored runs in all three of those innings after Rachel Miller got Azusa Pacific on the board with her two-out solo home run in the top of the third inning. Oviedo reached on an infield single and scored to tie the game at 2-2 in the fourth inning, and she scored the first of three runs in the sixth after leading off with the first of her two doubles in the game. All three runs came with two outs, after Oviedo’s double was followed by consecutive fly outs.
Kim kept the inning alive with a single that moved Oviedo to third base, and Renae Chappelle reached on an error by CBU centerfielder Marshean August. Oviedo scored, pushing Azusa Pacific in front for the first time all afternoon with a 3-2 lead, and Adrianna Martinez made the Lancers’ miscue all the more costly with a two-run pinch-hit single that gave the Cougars a 5-2 lead.
Sloan McHann got one of the runs back with a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the sixth, and California Baptist put together a furious rally to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh. After a leadoff single and an error put runners on first and second with no outs, Kim struck out Rachel Meyer before issuing walk to McHann to load the bases with one out. Savannah Miller singled to right to pull the Lancers within a run at 5-4, and Shawnna Martinez followed with a single to left that tied the game at 5-5. However, the momentum swung back to the Cougars when Chappelle threw out McHann at the plate for what would have been a game-winning walkoff hit. The next batter flied out to center, sending the teams to extra innings for the second time in their four-game series.
Oviedo’s leadoff double and Andrews’ infield single gave Azusa Pacific the 6-5 edge in the top of the eighth, and Narissa Garcia tossed a scoreless eighth to pick up the save. Garcia, who had given up four runs and eight hits in 4.1 innings as she started Saturday’s opener, allowed a one-out infield single before striking out leadoff hitter Mara Rodriguez at the top of the Lancer lineup for the second out. August grounded out to Oviedo at second base to end the game.
In Saturday’s opener, Miller and Oviedo each singled and scored in the first inning for an early 2-0 lead, although California Baptist got one back in the bottom of the first and took the lead two innings later with a pair of two-out scores in the bottom of the third. When the Lancers took a 4-2 lead with Rodriguez’ RBI double in the fourth, all four of their runs to that point had come with two outs in the inning.
That changed in the fifth, when Kailey Willingham hit a three-run home run to left-center with one out, extending the CBU lead to 7-2. The Lancers pushed three runs across in the bottom of the sixth, ending the game an inning early for the eight-run mercy-rule win when Miller hit a two-out RBI double that scored August for the final 10-2 margin.
After giving up two runs in the first inning, California Baptist starting pitcher Jessica Avila retired 15 of the final 19 hitters she faced. The most dangerous Cougar threat came when it was still a two-run game in the top of the fifth, when singles from Jessica Melcher and Miller put runners at first and second with one out. Avila got out of trouble by inducing an infield popup and an inning-ending flyout.
Miller was two-for-three in the opener, and her solo homer in the second game was her third of the year. Oviedo coupled a one-for-three game one with her four-hit performance in the nightcap to go five-for-seven on the day, and Kim, who also went one-for-three in the opener, was three-for-four in game two to finish the day four-for-seven. Kim also picked up the victory in the second game, striking out eight CBU hitters in her seven innings of work to improve her season pitching record to 8-6.
With the split, Azusa Pacific is now 21-18 overall and 10-12 in Pacific West Conference play, while California Baptist’s season-long eight-game win streak resets as the Lancers fell to 27-17 overall and 14-14 in the PacWest.
The Cougars wrap up their inaugural PacWest campaign with a pair of four-game series against two programs who currently sit in the top-three of the conference standings. Azusa Pacific visits third-place Dixie State next Friday and Saturday, before returning home to face second-place Grand Canyon to close out the regular season, April 26-27.