SAN RAFAEL, Calif. -- Freshman pitcher Carly Xepoleas fired her second consecutive shutout, tossing a three-hitter to lift Azusa Pacific to a 2-0 second-game win in a road doubleheader at Dominican after the Cougars’ opening-game rally came up short in a 4-3 defeat to the Penguins.
Xepoleas struck out six in the victory, which was the fifth shutout of the year for the freshman southpaw who improved to 13-4 on the year just two days after notching a five-hit shutout in a non-conference win over Hope International earlier this week. Xepoleas retired 11 straight batters to finish off the win, setting down 14 of the final 15 Dominican hitters after issuing a leadoff walk in the third inning.
Junior leftfielder Sona Babayan’s two-out RBI single in the first inning allowed Xepoleas to pitch the entire game with a lead, and freshman third baseman led off the fifth inning with a single and later scored an insurance run for the final 2-0 margin. Babayan, Sprague, and junior centerfielder Renae Chappelle registered two hits each to lead the Cougar offense.
Azusa Pacific dropped the opening game despite a fast start from sophomore pitcher Narissa Garcia, who retired seven of the first eight Dominican batters before giving up a bunt one-out single that led to an eventual four-run third inning. All four runs came with two outs, as a sacrifice bunt was followed by a hit-batsman, single, double, and triple to give the Penguins a 4-0 lead. Junior righthander Destinee Levesque took over in the circle, getting out of the inning with her first of five consecutive and seven total strikeouts in 3.1 no-hit innings of shutout relief.
Sophomore first baseman Jessica Melcher led the team offensively with two hits, and she drove in all three Azusa Pacific runs. Sprague led off the fourth inning with a walk, and she stole second before scoring on Melcher’s two-out infield single to put the Cougars on the board with their first run. Two innings later, Melcher drove in two more with a bases-loaded single, and a sacrifice bunt put the potential tying and go-ahead runs at second and third with one out. However, a lineout double play ended the threat, allowing Dominican to hang on to a 4-3 lead heading into the final inning.
Azusa Pacific continues its PacWest Bay Area road trip with Friday and Saturday doubleheaders against Academy of Art, both starting at noon at Mission Blue Field in Brisbane, Calif.