APU Offense Explodes in Series Opening Win Over UH-Hilo
It didn’t take long for the Azusa Pacific Cougars to walk into Wong Stadium and light up the scoreboard against the University of Hawai`i at Hilo.
Azusa Pacific beat UH-Hilo 11-3 Thursday to open a four-game PacWest Conference series.
Just a few hours after arriving at Hilo International Airport, Azusa Pacific picked up its vans, quickly checked in at the hotel, and arrived at Wong Stadium prior to first pitch at 5:00 p.m.
When the game started, the Cougars instantly put UH-Hilo started Seamus Yoneshige on edge. Joseph Daris and Mitch Dergazarian both reached on high bouncing infield singles to start the game, and three batters later, Daris came home on a fielder’s choice from Daniel Martin.
Martin’s RBI could’ve been an inning ending double play. Third baseman Samuel Kim knocked down the hard ground ball off of Martin’s bat and quickly stepped on third to get the second out of the inning, but his throw to first base was too low for Keenan Nishioka to handle, allowing Daris to come home.
What could’ve been a scoreless first inning turned into a four run barrage. Sean Aspinall drove in Jordan Brower with a single and Joe Huthsing brought in another run with a hit of his own. UH-Hilo left fielder Kyle Watase misplayed Huthsing’s single down the left field line, allowing Aspinall to score all the way to first to cap the first inning scoring.
To make matters worse, Kim left the game with an injury after Huthsing slid into him at third base. No word was given on the nature of Kim’s injury after the ame.
Yoneshige struggled in the third inning, allowing back-to-back hits before being yanked by interim head coach Kallen Miyataki. He took the loss, dropping to 0-5 on the year. The southpaw allowed six total runs, five of them earned, on eight hits with two walks and a strikeout.
Chris Hubocan came out of the pen and was immediately challenged with a sacrifice bunt by Blake James. Hubocan fielded the bunt but fired an erratic throw to first, allowing Aspinall to score. Two batters late, Daris drove in two with a deep single to left, scoring Huthsing and James. Later in the inning, Brower brought Daris in with a single through the left side of the diamond, giving Azusa Pacific an 8-0 lead.
UH-Hilo (10-28 overall, 8-19 PacWest) cut into the large deficit in the third inning against APU starter Joel Belk. Sean Nearhoof led off the inning with a deep double to left field. He scored when Jordan Murai brought him in on a ground ball out. Jonathan James added an RBI when he scored Ryan Fukunaga on a single to cut the Cougars’ lead to 8-2.
Azusa Pacific (23-14, 16-9) made up those runs in the fifth against UH-Hilo reliever Bryce Shandro. Brower drove in Dusty Sanderson and Daris with a single through the right side of the diamond to extend the lead to 10-2.
The Vulcans got one of those runs back in the bottom fo the inning when James picked up his second hit of the game, a dribbler through the middle of the infield to score Murai to cut the lead down to 10-3.
In the seventh, Matt Kimmel stepped to the plate against Jarin Kadooka and was looking to get on base, something that everyone else in the lineup was able to do. The Cougars’ right fielder would come through, getting a base knock to drive in Daris to push the score to 11-3.
The only Cougar that failedn to pick up a hit was James, who reached base once on the error in the third inning, but finished the game 0-for-4.
The rest of his team picked up the slack, picking up 17 hits against UH-Hilo pitching. Daris had four of them, all singles. Aspinall added three hits, and Mitch Dergazarian, Brower, Huthsing, and Sanderson each picked up two.
That was more than enough support for Belk, who improved to 5-1 on the season in his five-inning effort. The right-handed sophomore allowed three runs on three hits with three strikeouts and two walks.
Both teams continue the series Friday with a doubleheader. The first game, a nine-inning contest, starts at 4:00 p.m., and will be followed by a seven-inning contest. Both games will be broadcast at ESPNHawaii.com
Azusa Pacific 404 020 100 – 11 17 1
Hawai`i-Hilo 002 010 000 – 3 4 3