COSTA MESA, Calif. – Azusa Pacific found itself in a rallying frame of mind. The Cougars had to stage comebacks in both their GSAC games with Vanguard. One worked, the other fell short. The end result was another GSAC split with Vanguard taking the first game, 8-6, before the Cougars won the nightcap, 3-2.
In the opening the game, Cougar pitcher Kris Franks suffered a rare off day in the circle. The redshirt sophomore, who came into the game having surrendered just 1 earned run in her past 22 innings of work, was roughed up for 8 runs, including 7 earned runs, the most in her 26-appearance career.
Heather Durham’s 2-out triple put the Lions up 2-0 in the first inning. Vanguard added a 5 spot in the third inning, parlaying 5 singles and a Lauren Manriquez 2-run double into a comfortable 7-1 lead.
Down 8-2 heading into the seventh, Azusa Pacific rallied back into the game. A double by Rachel Yoshizu followed by singles from Courtney Cleaves, Megan Alkire, Cassi Sweeney and Rachel Alkire pulled the Cougars to within 2 runs at 8-6 with 2 outs. However, with the tying run on base, the Cougars were unable to get any closer.
In the nightcap, Vanguard again moved out to a 2-0 lead, scoring a run off Megan Alkire in the second and third innings. In the fifth inning, Azusa Pacific took advantage of 2 Lion errors to tally 3 runs. Jessica Mikesell scored on Justine Barnett’s single to center. Lion shortstop Rachel Bomgren then booted a Katie Beazley grounder that allowed Cleaves and Barnett to score and give Azusa Pacific a 3-2 lead it would not relinquish.
The rest was up to Alkire, who retired 11 of the final 12 batters she faced to pick up her second win of the season in as many decisions. The senior struck out 2, walked 2, and surrendered 7 hits in posting her second complete game of the season.
With the split the Cougars move to 20-4 overall, 2-2 in the GSAC while Vanguard is now 4-12 overall, 2-4 in the GSAC.