HAYWARD, Calif. -- For the fifth consecutive time in Pacific West Conference play, Azusa Pacific lost the opener and won the nightcap in a doubleheader split against Holy Names Thursday afternoon at Cal State East Bay’s Pioneer Field. The Cougars left nine runners on base in a 4-3 Game 1 defeat before scoring five runs in the first three innings of a 6-3 second-game victory.
Sophomore shortstop Madison Hernandez hit her team-leading fourth home run of the year in Game 2, a two-run, two-out shot to center that gave Azusa Pacific an early 2-0 lead. Freshman rightfielder Abry Moreno doubled the lead to 4-0 with a two-out, two-run triple down the left-field line. Hernandez put down a squeeze bunt in the third, giving the Cougars a 5-1 lead, and junior leftfielder Sona Babayan drove in another two-out run with a seventh-inning single that made it 6-3.
Sophomore pitcher Narissa Garcia closed out four innings of shutout relief with three consecutive outs after a leadoff single in the bottom of the seventh. Garcia struck out four, walked none, and surrendered three hits in her four innings of work.
Holy Names was on the board first in the opener, scoring a pair of runs in the first inning after back-to-back one-out walks turned into runs with a two-out single from Kaeli Hunyady. The Cougars had runners on base in every inning of the game but didn’t score until the fourth inning, when Babayan drove in one with an infield single and freshman catcher Jaime Bejarano tied the game with a two-out double to left.
The Hawks wasted no time getting the lead back, answering in the bottom of the fourth with two more runs that resulted from consecutive bases-loaded walks. In the top of the fifth, Babayan’s two-out single with two runners on led to a single run that cut the lead to 4-3, but HNU relief pitcher Karolanne Tipton got out of the inning with a popup and danced out of trouble in the final two innings to preserve the win.
Freshman third baseman Nicki Sprague singled with one out in the seventh, and Babayan drew a two-out walk to put runners at first and second before Tipton got out of the jam with a game-ending groundout. Azusa Pacific left nine runners on base in the opener, compared to just four for Holy Names.
Sprague was three-for-four in the opener, and she collected another hit in the nightcap to go four-for-eight on the day and bring her season batting average to .544 (43-for-79) through 27 games. Babayan also hit safely in both games, going three-for-seven in the doubleheader, and Bejarano was one-for-two with a walk in both Thursday games.
With the split, Azusa Pacific is now 19-8 overall and 8-6 in PacWest play, while Holy Names is now 8-21 overall, 4-8 PacWest. The Cougars continue the three-day road trip through the Bay Area with back-to-back doubleheaders at Notre Dame de Namur on Friday, March 14, and Saturday, March 15.