Baseball on brink of elimination after losing thriller to Master’s
Azusa Pacific University played host to this year’s Golden State Athletic Conference tournament, where on Tuesday night Biola lost a thriller under the lights to The Master’s College 9-8.
The loss pins the Eagles up against Westmont College in round two of the tournament, after Westmont shocked Azusa Pacific in the tournament opener, handily defeating the GSAC champion Cougars 12-4.
Sutherland’s home run sparks near ninth inning comeback
Down 9-6 in the ninth, Biola junior center fielder Benji Sutherland took a 1-1 fastball and drove it over the right field fence to bring the Eagles within one, scoring senior catcher Mike Lopez who walked a batter earlier. But just as Biola inched closer to completing the four-run comeback, Master’s center fielder Tanner Leighton dove head first to make a game-saving catch on a liner off the bat of sophomore outfielder Michael Annunziata, ending the game.
The hit would surely have scored both runners on base, sending the Eagles into the winner’s bracket to face Azusa Pacific.
Master’s tallied four unearned runs in the eighth off of junior relief pitcher J.T. Mickelson to extend their lead to five. Senior third baseman Drake Fages and sophomore shortstop Johnny Farrington both made errors in the inning, a fielding and throwing error respectively.
Left fielder Steve Karkenny paced the Mustang offense, going 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs. Right fielder Chris Talley and catcher Bryan Lucas also hit home runs for Master’s.
Baek’s solid pitching can’t keep Mustangs in check
Junior starting pitcher Chris Baek held the Mustangs scoreless through three innings before giving up four runs on seven hits over the next three frames as Master’s tied the game at four apiece.
Biola’s early 4-0 lead came courtesy of two RBIs from Fages including a solo home run in the third, his seventh big fly in eight games.
Fages, who won back-to-back GSAC player of the week honors, has 20 RBIs in those eight games.
Senior designated hitter Nick Covyeau also added a pair of RBIs with a two-run shot in the third. Covyeau’s homer was his ninth of the year, but his first since March 9 against Vanguard University, ending a 27-game homerless drought.
Master’s starting pitcher A.J. Work registered his GSAC leading 11th win of the season, despite giving up eight runs, seven earned, on 11 hits.
Eagles now in must-win mode
Biola will face Westmont College Wednesday afternoon at 2:15 p.m. at Azusa Pacific, needing a win to stay alive in the tournament and keep their NAIA Tournament hopes afloat.