Fages breaks out of slump, powers baseball to series win
Senior third baseman Drake Fages had gone 12 games, 34 days and 49 at-bats without a home run. Not something the 2011 NAIA All-American who slugged 18 homers last year was accustomed to dealing with.
With an ailing wrist still hindering his performance, an injury that caused him to miss the first 22 games of this season, the Gold Glove third baseman broke the homerless streak emphatically. His four home runs and 10 RBIs led Biola to three wins in a four-game series against Point Loma Nazarene University and a spot alone in third place in the Golden State Athletic Conference.
Fages, whose go-ahead home run in Thursday’s game one put the Eagles up 5-3 in the top of the ninth, says some adjustments to the padding on his wrist helped him get a better feel for his swing.
“I was struggling with just being comfortable and adapting to the tape job and padding that I had on my wrist and hand,” said Fages, who batted .389, 7-for-18, in the series. “I took a lot of tape off and got rid of the pad so I could feel the bat.”
Baek grabs fifth win with strong start
Junior starting pitcher Chris Baek pitched into the ninth inning of game one, keeping Biola in the game despite battling flu-like symptoms for the majority of the day.
“The first three innings were a little tiring,” Baek said. “But [head coach John Verhoeven] came out and lit a fire under my butt. Plus the defense helped me out.”
Baek lasted 8.1 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits while securing his fifth win of the season.
Fages and bullpen carry Eagles to game two victory
Game two had Biola carrying a 7-5 lead in the last inning when Fages connected again, hitting his second ninth inning home run in as many days. The three-run shot put the Eagles up by five, eventually going on to win 10-6, sweeping Point Loma in San Diego where they had won just twice in the last five years.
When junior starting pitcher Jeff Grijalva failed to get out of the third inning, three Biola relievers collectively held the Sea Lions to just one unearned run on six hits in the last 6.2 innings.
Juniors Erick Allen, Karl Stuck and J.T. Mickelson combined for five strikeouts in relief with Allen picking up the win, his fourth of the year.
“It was good to see our bullpen hold them through the entire game,” said junior center fielder Benji Sutherland, who continued his hot hitting, going 7-for-16 in the series. “It built our team’s confidence in our [bullpen] for the playoffs.”
Biola falters late to drop third game against Point Loma
Returning home for the Saturday doubleheader, junior starting pitcher Nick Turner took the mound and carried a shutout deep into game three before surrendering five runs on five hits in the eighth. Point Loma ended up striking for six runs in the inning with all runs scoring on singles as they took a three-run lead into the ninth, eventually finishing the Eagles off for their only win of the series, 8-4.
Fages homered for the third consecutive game, scoring sophomore shortstop Johnny Farrington with his two-run shot in the first.
Eagles wrap up series taking three of four from Sea Lions
Verhoeven handed the ball to sophomore starting pitcher Javier Martinez in game four, but received just 2.1 innings out of the left-hander. Martinez was knocked out of the game in the third after giving up three runs on six hits.
Trailing by two in the fourth, Biola scored five runs on five hits in the inning to take a 6-3 lead. The big hit came off the bat of freshman outfielder Paul Slater, whose two-run double gave the Eagles the lead.
Senior right-hander Kevin Ryan, who relieved Martinez in the third and pitched the remaining 4.2 innings of the game, notched his second win of the year.
Fages extended his home run streak to four with a leadoff homer in the second inning, his fifth of the season.