Azusa Pacific faced rival Biola and dominated both of Friday’s games 

Azusa Pacific’s baseball team came back strong after Colorado Mesa swept them last week. Thanks to early aggression both offensively and defensively, the Cougars won over rival Biola in the doubleheader on Friday, Feb, 17. It was smooth sailing for APU as both games at the Cougar Baseball Complex went 6-1.

When APU faced Biola last season, they dominated during homecoming weekend. However, APU lost to Biola in the last two games of the regular season. These losses cost them the PacWest title, so today was a great day for revenge. 

Before the game even began, APU head coach, Kirk Nieuwenhuis said that the energy was much better than last week. This was a trend that continued in the dugout and on the field for the entirety of the game. 

Senior pitcher Brendan Dixon started the second game at 3 p.m. off right, allowing zero runs in the top of the first inning. Dixon kept this consistency up for the five innings he pitched. 

“I just attacked the hitters getting ahead early…it’s important not to settle for anything,” he said. 

The bottom of the first was equally as remarkable for the Cougars. With two outs and bases loaded, junior infielder Omar Lopez refused to succumb to the pressure. He came in with a double, resulting in a two-run RBI. Senior UTL Will Stroud followed suit with a single, bringing the score to 4-0. To round out the rally, junior outfielder Cameron Lee hit an RBI double but got out in pursuit of third. 

Biola had a chance to answer APU’s offensive play. However, a fly out to left field brought Biola to three outs, shutting down that opportunity.

In the bottom of the second, Biola pitcher Jake Anderson provided a challenge for APU hitters. Good pitching and fielding resulted in three consecutive outs.

Despite errors such as a failed pickoff attempt and a catcher’s interference, APU only allowed one run from Biola. In the bottom of the third, with one RBI, the Cougars brought the score to 6-1. 

The fourth inning was the shortest of them all, with both teams having zero hits. The offensive action continued to slow, as Biola had no hits in the fifth and APU had zero runs. 

At the top of the sixth, senior Alfredo Frey went in to pitch for Dixon. Frey also successfully kept Biola from having any hits. 

Anderson helped to end the top of the sixth inning quickly, finishing out his pitching with a total of five strikeouts. Biola’s efforts though would not be enough. The top of the seventh sealed the game for APU where the Cougs once again did not allow a single hit. This brought the Cougars’ record to 5-6 while Biola fell 3-6. 

Part of today’s success came from the lessons learned last week in Colorado. Coach Nieuwenhuis said the tough matchup against Colorado Mesa exposed weaker spots that the team focused on during the following practices. 

Despite the impressive individual showing, Dixon expressed that the season is about so much more than oneself. 

“It’s a blessing to be here. It’s a privilege to put on a jersey. You kind of forget about the name on the back of your jersey and you play for the one on the front. It’s a brotherhood and a family,” he said. 

Senior infielder Tido Robles, who was a reliable and powerful hitter throughout the day, echoed Dixon’s statement. He elaborated that as the younger team members have adopted this standard, the future season has become more exciting. 

Looking ahead, tomorrow the Cougars will be at Biola, facing them for another double header.

“We just got to do the same thing we did today in terms of energy and focus. I talked to them a lot about that today and it was much better than it was last week so it is encouraging,” said Nieuwenhus