In the team’s season opener, the Cougars Baseball team fell 4-12 against No. 25-ranked Cal State Monterey Bay.
Heading into the 2023 season, Azusa Pacific was ranked No.2 in the PacWest pre-season standings and came in at No.14 overall in the region.
But opening night did not go as hoped for the Cougars.
On their home field in the first game of the new season, the Cougars struggled to stop the bleeding that started within the very first inning.
To start the game, senior RHP Steven Silva walked the first three batters to load the bases heading into just the fourth batter of the game. The first hit of the game ended up being a home run to right field good for a grand slam.
The Cougars were able to temporarily stop the pain and finish off the next three at-bats with a glimmer of hope heading into the bottom of the first.
For the Cougars’ very first at-bat of the season, Cade Marshman smoked a solo-shot homer to left field.
The junior outfielder shared what was going through his head at that moment, “It felt like hard work had paid off…going into this season, I have put great effort in gaining strength and improving my bat and to see the momentum of the off-season carry into the start of the season was a great personal start.”
Unfortunately, the Cougars were unable to build on it meanwhile the Sea Otters would go on to score seven runs across the next five innings.
Finally, a spark was lit under the Cougars in the bottom of the sixth as senior outfielder Casey O’ Laughlin would hit a three-run homer to score his teammates Spencer Rassmussen and Tido Robles making the score now 4-11.
“As for the home run, it felt good to help the team chip away at the deficit, but I knew we still had a ways to go. A positive from the loss last night is that we saw some guys step up and perform well when they got their opportunity toward the back half of the game. Brendan Cannings, Abe Carrillo, Korey Shepard, and Chantz Powers did very well last night, which was encouraging to see as we start the season,” said O’ Laughlin on last night’s game.
In the final inning of the game, the Otters were able to knock in one more run off a solo homer that the Cougars were unable to counter. The final score after nine innings was 4-12.
But don’t lose hope in the 2023 season just yet. The Cougars opened their 2022 campaign 2-6 before going on to finish 38-19 overall and advanced to the NCAA Super Regional before facing the currently ranked No. four Point Loma.
The action will return today as the Cougars will face the Otters for a doubleheader here in Azusa, California.
Fun fact: APU faced off against Cal State Monterey Bay last summer in the NCAA West Regional Championship Tournament where the Cougars advanced after winning the series 2-1. Hopefully, they can get the same luck this time around.
“The silver lining of yesterday’s loss is that we have two more today and 49 left on the year. We still have a lot of opportunities to play to our standard of baseball [and] still have our sights set on winning the series. The beauty of baseball is that yesterday’s score doesn’t dictate today’s,” said O’ Laughlin heading into Friday afternoon’s games.