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Baseball roars back for series split

The Eagles score 18 runs to down Dixie State.  |  Caitlin Gaines / THE CHIMES

 

In what may have qualified as a must-win game for baseball to stay near the top of the PacWest standings, the Eagles responded by setting a new high-water mark for runs in a single game this season, routing the Dixie State University Trailblazers 18-5. Junior starting pitcher Devin Sutorius took a no-hitter into the sixth, while the middle of the Eagles’ order—senior first baseman Colton Worthington, freshman outfielder Ryan Gallegos and junior outfielder Jerron Largusa—combined for seven hits, six runs and nine RBIs.

“The last couple weeks, we felt like our offense really hasn’t been where we wanted it to be,” Worthington said. “We made it a goal to really step up this week.”

EARLY SHUTDOWN PITCHING SPARKS OFFENSE

Sutorius battled command issues in the third, loading the bases on two walks and a hit-by-pitch, then hit another batter to bring home the game’s first run. He got out of any further trouble when the next DSU batter hit a lazy pop-up to senior shortstop Ricky Perez, ending the inning.

As they have all series, the Eagles immediately had an answer, scoring two in the bottom of the third off an RBI groundout from Perez and an RBI double from Worthington. They added two more in the fourth then turned the game into a blowout with a four-run fifth, highlighted by a three-run home run from Largusa. Gallegos added a three-run shot of his own in the sixth to make it 11-1.

Sutorius settled down after his shaky third, retiring the next seven batters he faced. However, a clean single into left field with one out ended any thought of a no-hitter. With the former reliever already at 106 pitches, manager Jay Sullenger pulled him from the game. The Eagles’ skipper later praised Sutorius for setting the tone right out of the gate.

“I think where it started was a quality start on the bump from [Sutorius],” Sullenger said. “It was hard to lose him in the role that he was in because he’s such a durable guy and can pitch a lot, but there was also need [in the rotation] based on some things that had occured, so it’s been big that he’s stepped up and given us some quality outings.”

EAGLES PILE ON

Dixie State got a taste of its own medicine in the eighth, as two consecutive Eagles got hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to drive in runs. That started a seven-run inning for the Eagles, just enough to break their previous season-high for runs scored, which had occurred on March 2 in a 17-12 win at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Despite splitting the series, Biola outscored its opponents 42-25 in one of the best stretches for the Eagles’ offense this season. 39 of those runs came after the team held a hitters-only meeting on April 19.

“I think it was just a mentality thing,” Worthington said. “We know we have the ability to put up a lot of runs and we believe that in this conference, we can be one of the best if not the best offense.”

The win, and the rejuvenated offense, has huge significance as the Eagles (27-15, 19-13 in conference) will need all the momentum they can get heading into the biggest series of the season: a four-game set against their archrival—and the top team in all of NCAA Division IIAzusa Pacific University.

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