Cougars Hold off Sea Lions

Isaac Mendez battled his way through eight innings for the Cougars. (Photo by Duane Barker).

By Tim Peterson

(Azusa) – Azusa Pacific jumped ahead early but then had to rally late to beat Point Loma 6-5 Wednesday in the first game of the PacWest Conference Tournament at the Cougar Baseball Complex.

Down 5-4 the Cougars got one in the seventh inning to tie it and another in the eighth that proved to be the game winner.

Tied at five in the top of the eighth Jeffrey Castillo led off with a base hit to centerfield, worked his way to third on a ground ball and a single by Cameron Lee and scored on a ground ball to short by Mikey Easter.

Mikey Easter ripped a line shot that left the yard in a hurry in the third inning. (Photo by Duane Barker).

Isaac Mendez, who started and went eight innings for the Cougars, got the Sea Lions out in the eight but not without some controversy. Scott Anderson led off the inning with a shot to left that bounced back off the fence and onto the field but it appeared to clear the barrier for a home run. After a protest from Point Loma head coach Justin James and a meeting by the umpires it was ruled a double. Mendez then escaped any damage by getting the next three hitters.

Kohl Petersen came on in the ninth inning to pick up the save.

Both teams scored in the first inning on solo shots. Lee homered to left to put the Cougars up 1-0. Eric Smelko tied it in the bottom half with a leadoff blast to right.

Danny Yanez walked and eventually scored on a single by George Christison to make it 2-1 APU in the second inning.

Easter, who hails from Arcadia High School, hit a line shot that got out in a hurry in the third for another run. After base knocks by Spencer Rasmussen and Yanez, Omar Lopez hit a hard ground ball to third. The out was recorded at third but the throw to first was wild and Yanez scored from second for a 4-1 Azusa Pacific lead.

Kohl Petersen came on in the ninth to pick up the save. (Photo by Duane Barker).

Point Loma answered with four in the bottom of the fourth. Jack Malone delivered the big blow, a three-run homerun to rightfield, to tie it at four. Joey Nicolai singled, took second on a wild pitch, and scored on a single by Smelko to make it 5-4 Sea Lions.

The Cougars got even in the seventh when Cade Marshman singled, advanced on an error, and scored on a single by Lopez. Azusa Pacific then got the game winner in the eighth.

Mendez battled through eight innings allowing five runs and seven hits for the Cougars while striking out seven.

Point Loma used four pitchers on the day. Dylan Miller went six innings and gave up four runs and nine hits. The Cougars had 14 hits overall.

Azusa Pacific now moves to the winner’s bracket and will play Thursday at 3:00 p.m.

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