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The Hits Just Keep On Coming

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Photo by Holly Magnuson
Freshman outfielder Abry Moreno had five of Azusa Pacific's 24 hits as the Cougars posted a 6-1, 9-3 doubleheader sweep over Lake Superior State.

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March 6, 2014
Joe Reinsch
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AZUSA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific registered a hit in all but one inning of a 6-1, 9-3 doubleheader sweep over Lake Superior State (Mich.) Thursday afternoon, snapping the Cougars’ run of four consecutive doubleheader splits.

Freshman third baseman Nicki Sprague and freshman rightfielder Abry Moreno led the way, each going three-for-four in one game and two-for-four in the other to lead all Cougar hitters with five hits on the day. In the opener, Sprague was two-for-four with two RBIs and the game’s only extra-base hit (a fourth-inning triple), while Moreno went three-for-four with three runs and a stolen base. In Game Two, it was Sprague who went three-for-four with a double and three RBIs while Moreno was two-for-four with another two runs.

Freshman lefthander Carly Xepoleas allowed just one run on four hits, and she struck out five in the complete-game victory to improve to 7-1 on the year. Sophomore righty Narissa Garcia was the complete-game winner in the nightcap, giving up three runs on six hits with four strikeouts.

Lake Superior State scored first in the opener on a third-inning sacrifice bunt that moved a runner from second to third. However, as junior second baseman Katrina Oviedo covered first base for the out, she was involved in a collision at the base that allowed the runner to score from third for an early 1-0 lead. Oviedo remained in the game and helped spark Azusa Pacific’s three-run response in the bottom of the third. She beat out a bunt single, one of three infield hits that loaded the bases with two outs before a two-out error scored the first of three unearned runs in the frame. Sophomore first baseman Jessica Melcher and sophomore designated player Janelle Eccles followed with back-to-back RBI singles that gave the Cougars a 3-1 lead.

Sprague ripped a two-out RBI triple to left-center in the fourth inning to push the lead to 4-1, and junior centerfielder Renae Chappelle hit a leadoff single in the sixth inning that set up two more runs for the final 6-1 margin.

Xepoleas, who retired 11 of 12 hitters over a stretch that took the Cougars to the final out of the game, walked consecutive hitters and allowed a two-out single that loaded the bases with two outs in the final frame before finishing things off with her fifth strikeout of the game.

The Cougars took an early 1-0 lead in the second game with a single run in the second, but the Lakers scored three runs in the fourth inning to take a 3-1 lead. That lead only held up for another inning before Azusa Pacific took control with four runs in the fifth inning. The Cougars loaded the bases with a pair of infield singles and a walk, setting up Sprague for a game-tying two-run single. Two batters later, junior leftfielder Sona Babayan drove in the game-winning run, a one-out RBI single to center field.

Another two-out rally, this time in the sixth inning, was capped by a two-out, two-run double from sophomore catcher Madison Hernandez. It was the second double of the game for Hernandez, who holds team-highs on the season in doubles (nine) and extra-base hits (12).

The four Lake Superior State players who hit safely in the opener each got another hit in the second game, but no Lakers player had multiple hits in either of the two games.

The Lakers, who had the first six games of their 12-game Southern California road trip cancelled last week due to rain, wrap up their first week of games this season with a 1-5 overall record.

Azusa Pacific improved to 18-7 overall, and the Cougars will resume Pacific West Conference action with six games in the Bay Area next week against Holy Names (March 13) and Notre Dame de Namur (March 14-15).