APU’s softball, baseball, and track and field teams all put the nail in the coffin against Biola after strong performances this past weekend
The inaugural Cornerstone Cup came down to just one weekend. With Azusa Pacific in the lead 60-45, Biola needed a miracle in order to stay in the race. However, such a miracle was not in the cards, as the Eagles ran into four APU programs this past weekend which had been on a hot streak recently.
Softball won seven of their 12 games in April prior to the doubleheader with Biola; baseball had just six losses on the year, and both men’s and women’s track and field had been on fire all year. Each of these programs wanted to help clinch the title, and they all played a role in securing a 95-45 Cornerstone Cup victory.
“I was excited for the rivalry to be back,” Azusa Pacific Athletic Director Gary Pine said. “I thought it would take longer for it to be accepted like it has been. Both communities have accepted it from the start, and for good reason. The games were exciting and the atmospheres were some of the best that I have seen in a while.”
APU’s baseball began their four-game series with the Eagles on Thursday. The Cougars went down 2-0 in the first inning, but quickly shut down the Eagles’ offense for the rest of the game, allowing just four more hits from the second inning on. The Cougars’ offense then went on to score in all but three innings, taking game one 7-2.
On Friday, baseball returned to La Mirada and were joined by softball, who had a doubleheader. Game two of the series for baseball began first, and, early in the game, it looked to be another, relatively closely contested game. That was not the case, however, as the Cougars went on to score 18 runs. The floodgates opened in the fourth and fifth innings, when the Azusa Pacific offense recorded eight hits and 10 runs combined. Pitchers Layne Henderson and Spiro Valasakos each pitched about half of the game and only gave up four hits and two runs on the day.
While baseball was cruising to an easy victory at the Eagles diamond, softball began their quest for a win of their own across campus at Freedom Field.
“We always want to stay as competitive as possible, but when we play Biola, we are always going to want to play even harder and be as aggressive as we can,” sophomore pitcher Kat Ung said. “Coming into the game, knowing it was a Cornerstone Cup game, we wanted to play not just for ourselves, but also for our school and our athletics department.”
The two teams were tied until the third inning, when freshman Becca Jewett’s double scored Cayla Broussard and Melanie Abzun. The Cougars added another two runs in the fifth inning thanks to Erin Jaramillo and Amanda Woods. Jewett and Woods struck again in the sixth inning to give the Cougars a 7-1 lead.
“I knew, coming in for my freshman year, that the APU-Biola rivalry was back, but I didn’t know impactful it was to each school and how serious each school took it. It was super fun to be a part of and I am excited for the next three years,” Woods said.
Although Azusa Pacific gave up a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh inning, it was not enough for the Eagles to mount any sort of comeback attempt as the game was over just four batters later.
“We actually didn’t know the overall score going into the game,” Ung continued, “but after the game Head Coach [Carrie Webber] told us that we clinched the Cornerstone Cup and it was super exciting. It is really cool to be a part of the game where our school did that. I know that all the sports had an impact, but to be the team to clinch the victory was really special.”
The Cornerstone Cup trophy basically had Azusa Pacific’s name written on it from the beginning, but once these two games finalized, the Cougars could claim it for real, as the Cup score was then 75-45.
As APU baseball continued their four-game series on Saturday, men’s and women’s track and field finished up their appearances at the PacWest Conference Championships. For the women, freshman Nicole Warwick led the way with excellent performances in the 100-meter hurdles and long jump. Olivia Nash and Cyinna Booker took first and second, respectively, in the triple jump, and Meagan Warwick finished second in the heptathlon. For the men, James Jones put in a strong performance, taking first place in shot put and discus, second place in hammer throw, and third place in javelin throw. APU’s Chad Ponciano and Zach Munoz placed first and second in javelin, rounding out the top three in the event. On the track, Josh Cantong placed first in the 800-meters, while the 4×400 meter relay, which included Cantong, Jonathan Davis, Rich Finical, and Kyle Brown took second place.
The inaugural year of the Cornerstone Cup, which brought back a rivalry that laid dormant for five years, provided an exciting incentive for both schools to win every matchup possible. Now that both the students and athletes at both institutions are aware of what is at stake, the rivalry will continue to grow, and, according to Gary Pine, the rivalry will continue to improve with time.
“I’m very excited with the way that both Biola and Azusa Pacific have bought into the idea of the Cornerstone Cup,” Pine said. “Both universities, from the athletic departments, to the alumni offices, to the students and faculty, have poured so much into this already, that I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
Pine paused then added: “And I’m glad the rivalry kicked off the right way.”