Here is a rundown of all the athletic excitement from last week.
An emotional acro and tumbling finish against Oregon, a back-to-back-to-back home run moment in baseball’s series against Concordia Irvine and two consecutive match sweeps for men’s tennis highlighted this week’s action for Azusa Pacific athletics. Here’s a brief recap of every game that APU played in during their eleventh week of play.
March 22 — W, 6-1 vs Metro State
The Cougars advanced their record to 7-1 after defeating the Roadrunners on home court. The double point was acquired after winning the No. 2, which finished after an exciting 7-6 (7-5) tiebreaker, and No. 3 matchups. Jacky Wager, who partnered with Carolyn Brooner in the No. 2 doubles matchup, also won the first contest of the singles portion when she won 6-0, 6-2 at the No. 3 spot. Anna Savchenko clinched the contest after her hard-fought 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 three-set match in the No. 2 spot. Katia Betancourt and Madison Kane secured the fifth and sixth points of the decisive victory.
March 25 — L, 4-0 vs Cal State Fullerton
Three days later, women’s tennis would suffer their second loss of the season at the hand of the Division I Titans. Playing on their home court, the No. 9 ranked Cougars lost the double point after dropping the No. 2 and 3 matchups. Cal State Fullerton would go on to win the contest after winning three consecutive single matchups at the No. 2, 4 and 6 spots. While Petra Ivankovic was up 6-3, 3-2 in the No. 1 spot, she was incapable of finishing her match as CSF’s fourth straight point ended things for APU.
March 27 — W, 5-2 vs Biola
Bouncing back from their previous loss, the Cougars took care of business on their home courts and defeated a Biola team who carried an 11-2 record heading into Saturday’s matchup. Despite Kane and Courtney Page earning an early win in the No. 3 spot of the doubles portion, a Cougar defeat in the No. 2 spot meant that the No. 1 matchup would be the deciding factor. The team of Ivankovic and Savchenko went on to win 6-4, giving APU the early 1-0 lead. After a win in the No. 3 spot thanks to Wagner’s 6-1, 6-1 victory, the Eagles secured their first point of the day after a win in the No. 5 spot. However, a Katia Betancourt victory in the No. 6 spot meant that Savchenko’s 7-5, 6-2 win in the No. 2 spot secured the win for APU.
March 22 — W, 5-2 vs Metro State
Men’s tennis won their fourth straight matchup on Monday afternoon after defeating the Roadrunners. The 8-3 Cougars started the contest by sweeping their opponents in the doubles portion, which was the third consecutive match they did so. They continued to have success in the singles matchups, with Sam Sippel earning the first victory in the No. 2 spot after a 6-2, 6-2 result. Jakob Schnaitter added a second point with his 22nd consecutive singles victory after a 6-1, 6-4 tally. Although Metro State added two points with the game already decided, Leyton Bohren secured the fourth point and the victory with the 6-1, 6-4 finish in the No. 4.
March 24 — W, 7-0 vs Cal Lutheran
They would make it five straight the following Wednesday, after defeating the Kingsmen in a clean 7-0 sweep. Another early doubles point led the Cougars straight into the singles portion in which they failed to lose a single set in any of the individual matchups. Once Ryan Nuno, Ethan Smith and Sippel made quick work of their two-set matches, the other three Cougars did the same. Playing once again in the No. 1 set, team captain Schnaitter completed the seven-match sweep after earning a hard-fought 6-4, 7-5 victory.
March 27 — W, 4-0 vs Biola
The Cougars continued their hot streak on Saturday after sweeping Biola at the Munson and Bavougian Tennis Complex. APU quickly grabbed the doubles point, securing victories in the No. 1 and 2 spots. They secured a sweep in the singles portion of the game, and they looked to do the same after Sippel earned the quick 6-1, 6-2 victory in the No. 2 match. Schnaitter’s victory in the No. 1 game and Nuno’s in the No. 5 spot gave the Cougars their second consecutive sweep as the remaining games went unfinished. It was their fourth sweep of the season. Their record advanced to 10-3 after beating their biggest PacWest rivals. They will have a week off before playing Biola yet again on April 6.
March 23 — L, 88-76 vs Lander
Playing in their second Elite Eight matchup over the span of three years, the Cougars played a Bearcat team that had made their first quarterfinal appearance in program history. However, they had only lost one game during their entire season. Lander proved to be the more physical team near the basket. Although four Cougars scored 12 points or more on Tuesday, APU’s inability to match their opponents’ rebounding numbers is what led to their defeat. Being out-rebounded 56-25, Lander was able to take advantage of several second-chance opportunities, particularly Makaila Cange who scored 26 points to go along with 18 rebounds. The Cougars’ push for a national championship has come to an end, but head coach T.J. Hardeman’s squad is full of young talent and is hungry for another shot in 2022.
March 24 — W, 3-0 vs Point Loma
The Cougars remained undefeated Wednesday night after traveling to San Diego, Calif. and conquering Point Loma in straight sets. While the Sea Lions took an early lead in the first set, and they held a 20-16 advantage late in the first. However, the Cougars went on an 8-2 run to win the first set, which resulted in two straight-set victories that APU won by three points. The sets remained close throughout, but it was clear who the better team was based on individual performances. Katarina Radisic and Annaka Jorgenson both finished with eight kills, and setter Mina Andjelkovic finished with a game-high three serving aces.
March 26 — W, 3-0 vs Redlands
It was much of the same on Friday, as APU played an afternoon game against the Bulldogs that advanced their perfect streak to 5-0. Similar to the game against Point Loma, the Cougars won the game in three straight sets. However, unlike the contest against their PacWest opponent, the three sets were not particularly close. Winning the first set 25-19, the Cougars won the second set 25-11 thanks to their offensive attack, which acquired five kills in the team’s final seven points. A 25-20 third set conclusion gave APU the victory. Radisic continued her strong two-game stretch as she finished the contest with 11 kills, her second-highest total this season.
Acro and Tumbling
March 25 — W, 280.37-276.98 vs Oregon
One of the most emotional moments in program history, acro and tumbling beat Oregon University in their season opener at the Felix Event Center. Not only were they competing in their first meet since the tragic passing of their longtime head coach Colleen Kausrud, but their opponent was a four-time national championship-winning Ducks team that APU had not beaten since 2014.
The first two heats were narrow victories for APU, who won by a tenth of a point after posting a 9.90 and 9.95 score. Although Oregon responded with a perfect 10.0 score in the synchronized pyramid heat, the Cougars won two more heat performances in the toss heat portion of the match to attempt and close their halftime gap. The Ducks were leading by two and a half points going into the team events, which the Cougars would earn a score of 100.22. It was enough to pick up the close victory and begin their season 1-0.
March 24 — W, 3-2 vs Biola
In their third doubleheader against Biola this season, the Cougars began the two-game set with a resilient 3-2 victory over the Eagles. Freshman Katie Korstrom was in the circle for APU to start the game. She held Biola scoreless through the first four innings, and once the game was over she earned her fifth victory of their season. On offense, it was the bat of designated hitter Aly Montesino that proved to be the difference as she worked a walk and double that brought in two scores. Becca Jewett was also critical for the offense, who secured her 15 RBI of the season in Game 1.
March 24 — L, 4-2 vs Biola
Game 2 proved to be a different story for the Cougars. While Montesino, who was in the circle starting her fourth game over the span of eight games, threw a complete game and only gave up two earned runs, it was APU’s defense that struggled throughout the contest. In total, the Cougars picked up three errors once the seven innings came to a finish. The Eagles didn’t have a single one. Biola pitcher Paige Austin was phenomenal as she also threw a complete game and struck out 10 Cougar batters without a single walk.
March 26 — L, 4-2 vs Biola
While the Cougars scored their two runs early in the first inning, the offense could not continue to pile on the pressure in the remaining six innings. The Cougars ended the game with two more hits than the Eagles, and APU struggled to take advantage of those hits as they left 10 runners on base. Korstrom was once again on the mound for the Cougars. She was impressive throughout her six innings of work, but she received the loss despite only giving up one earned run. The game-winning run for the Eagles came at the cost of a throwing error from the Cougars in the top of the seventh inning, in which Biola was able to bring in two runners to home plate.
March 26 — L, 3-0 vs Biola
The story of Friday’s second game was, once again, the pitching of Paige Austin. For APU, Montesino was on the mound and had another impressive outing in which she threw six innings and failed to give up a single earned run. Austin, however, responded with her best start of the young 2021 season, throwing a one-hit shutout while acquiring 12 strikeouts — a season-high for her — and only one walk. Through that performance, she struck out every single APU batter she faced, advancing her personal season record to 6-3. The Cougars, on the other hand, advanced their record to 10-8 and have now lost six of their last eight games.
March 26 — W, 10-2 vs Concordia Irvine
There was no slowing down the Cougars’ offense in their first game of four against Concordia Irvine. The team’s bats were hot from the very beginning, scoring three runs in the first inning thanks to a two-run home run from Nick Estrella. After securing two more runs in the middle innings, the Cougars piled on another three-run inning in the top of the sixth. Casey Dykstra hit a three-run shot in that inning, which was his second home run of the season. AJ Woodall threw another great start on the mound as he collected seven shutout innings in his third win of the season.
March 26 — W, 10-8 vs Concordia Irvine
A much tighter affair in the second game of the doubleheader, APU was able to hold onto the victory despite consistent resilience from the Eagles. The Cougars opened the scoring quickly, holding onto an early 5-0 lead after taking advantage of two costly errors by CUI. However, in the bottom of the fifth, a second home run from the Eagles’ designated hitter Cooper Moore gave the Eagles their only lead of the game with a 6-5 advantage. Yet, another error from Concordia Irvine allowed the Cougars to bring in two key runs, which they were able to add onto in the top of the seventh with an Osvaldo Tovalin home run and a Joseph Kim RBI double, giving APU a 10-6 edge. While the Eagles made it even more interesting in the bottom of the seventh after scoring two runs themselves, the Cougars secured the win after Hayden Merda earned his second save of the season.
March 27 — L, 17-8 vs Concordia Irvine
The third game of the series was defined by the Cougars giving up more runs in this game than they have in several seasons. Although Kim opened the scoring with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first, the Eagles added six runs themselves in the second and third innings. Four more runs in the top of the sixth made it an intimidating 10-3 deficit. While the Cougars scored four runs in the sixth and seventh inning, a seven-run top of the eighth essentially iced the game for the Eagles. Kim was the star of the game for the Cougars, as he finished the game 3-4 at the plate with four RBIs.
March 27 — W, 6-4 vs Concordia Irvine
Ace Nick Estrella was back on the mound for the Cougars, and he lived up to his stature through his first two innings. He held the Eagles hitless during that time, striking out three batters in those efforts. However, a bases-clearing triple from the Eagles’ Bailey Collins gave CUI a 4-1 lead heading into the bottom of the third. Possibly the highlight of the series for APU happened in that bottom inning as Tovalin, Kim and Aaron Roose hit back-to-back-to-back home runs to tie the game. Roose’s double in the bottom of the fourth brought two more runs in to give APU the 6-4 lead, which they would carry throughout the remainder of the game. The 3-1 series win for the Cougars advanced their season record to 14-3 as they will be heading into another four-game series against Point Loma next.
March 26 — W, 9-4 vs Fresno Pacific
The Cougars won their second straight matchup Friday evening, mainly thanks to their fantastic defensive effort. Although the Sunbirds scored the first two goals of the contest, the Cougars went on a 7-0 scoring run. They held Fresno Pacific scoreless throughout the second and third periods of play. Junior attacker Gabrielle Martinez scored a hat trick in the effort, giving her eight total goals so far this campaign. The defensive performance was even more impressive when considering the absence of arguably their best player in Milena Guzman Ortiz, who missed the game due to injury. The 9-4 victory was their 14th consecutive victory over the Sunbirds.
Track and Field
March 26 & 27 — Team for Titus Invite Results
Both men and women’s track and field performed at the Team for Ely Invitational this weekend, which is an annual event hosted by Concordia Irvine. The men, who competed Friday, had an impressive outing highlighted by Jermel Jones II who finished with career-best marks in the triple jump (45′ 6 ½”) and the high jump (6′ 2 ¾”). Senior Weston Ellis was also a highlight in the meet for the Cougars, as in the discus competition he reached a distance of 150′ 7”, which was over 10 feet further than any of his previous throws in his collegiate career.
For the women’s competition on Saturday, it was the team’s performance on the track that highlighted their day — particularly Mechaela Hyacinth. The sophomore sprinter won the 100-meter race and finished with a personal-best 11.51. She also went on to win the 200-meter race after picking up a 24.14 finish. Jaylah Walker also impressed, winning the 100 hurdles with a time of 14.07, which was over one second faster than her previous career mark (15.23).