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Baseball just misses shot at doubleheader sweep

As the Eagles enter the home stretch of PacWest conference play, their chances of climbing the conference standings took another hit on April 20 when they allowed the Dixie State University Trailblazers to grab a 9-8 comeback win after Biola scored six in the first inning. The Eagles allowed five unearned runs and made six errors in the game, an uncharacteristic performance for one of the best fielding teams in the PacWest. Softening the blow, however, was a fantastic 13-3 win in game one highlighted by junior pitcher Troy Stainbrook’s eight strong innings.

“We had a talk last night about making sure we have an approach in there [and] making sure we’re sticking with that approach and not being afraid in certain situations,” said junior catcher River Fawley, who hit three home runs over the two games. “So that’s what we did today, and we came out hot in both games.”

STAINBROOK SHINES BEHIND OVERWHELMING OFFENSE

Stainbrook took a perfect game into the fourth inning, when Dixie State got on the scoreboard with two runs. The Eagles came right back in the bottom half, tying the game on a home run from freshman designated hitter Ryan Gallegos and an RBI single from freshman shortstop Connor Kostecka. They broke the game open in a big way with a sixth-run fifth frame, highlighted by a three-run home run from junior outfielder Jerron Largusa.

Stainbrook cruised from there, only allowing one more hit as his team added five more in the final two innings, with two of those runs coming on a pinch-hit home run from Fawley. Stainbrook finished with two runs allowed on three hits along with seven strikeouts over eight innings, one of his best starts of the season.

“[Troy was] huge,” said manager Jay Sullenger. “The game is changed when you get a guy go up there and give that kind of performance... You don’t have to be as good, and we were already good [that game].”

EAGLES GIVE AWAY GAME TWO

The Eagles made their first mistake of the nightcap when a two-out error from senior shortstop Ricky Perez gave Dixie State its first run. Biola’s bats again responded in a big way in the bottom of the first inning, putting up another six-run frame highlighted by a two-run double from Gallegos and another longball from Fawley. The Trailblazers chipped away with two-run doubles in the second and third, respectively, and the score was 6-5 when Fawley hit a solo shot -- his second of the game and third of the day -- to give the Eagles some more breathing room in the bottom of the third.

“I think I’m just trying to simplify what I’m doing at the plate,” Fawley said. “Just trying to get a pitch, have an approach and it’s just been working here lately.”

It still did not prove enough. Dixie State scored three unearned runs in the fourth off three more Biola errors, giving them a 9-7 lead. The Eagles held their opponents from scoring again but could only muster one more run themselves, eventually falling 9-8.

“We had four [errors] yesterday, so it’s been an ugly weekend,” said manager Jay Sullenger. “But that hasn’t been who we are. Just one of those things where we made some bad decisions… and it just compounded on us.”

The Eagles (26-15, 18-13 in the PacWest) finished their series against the Trailblazers on April 21 at 1 p.m.

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