ST. GEORGE – The Dixie State baseball team got back on track after its first loss in 14 games by sweeping Azusa Pacific in a doubleheader Friday night.
DSU pitcher John Conquy pitched a complete game for a 12-4 win in the first game. The Red Storm had to mount a comeback in the nightcap to win 12-11 in extra innings.
In the afternoon game, the Red Storm charged out early with a three-run first inning. Second baseman Drew McLaughlin scored first on a fielder’s choice by center fielder Trey Kamachi. Kamachi later scored on a stolen base to home. Kris Kaplan singled in Kevin Kline for the final run.
The Cougars matched the three runs in the top of the third to tie the game. Dixie State would respond with nine straight runs. In the third, Kaplan singled in Tyler Blair. Kline then singled in Kaplan to put Dixie up 5-3.
The onslaught continued in the next inning. Kline singled in Yuto Kata, then scored on a Blair single to left center. Kaplan followed up with a two-run homer and after four, Dixie had extended its lead to 9-3.
In the sixth inning, Blair had a three-run boomer that gave the Red Storm plenty of breathing room at 12-3.
Conquy improved to 6-1 on the season, striking out six.
“We wanted to come out after (the loss) yesterday and make sure we did not give up that one big inning that APU is capable of,” said Conquy. “We have not faced a great offensive team like this all season. Their hitting is unparalleled in the conference. I was able to get my fastball going and keep my pitch count low.”
The nightcap developed very differently. After the Cougars put a run up in the first, DSU scored six straight, looking to mirror the same result as the earlier game. The “big” inning came for APU in the fifth. The Cougars started with four consecutive hits, two doubles and two singles. Starting pitcher Kort Christoffersen was relieved by Taylor Stone with the bases loaded. Stone lost the batter to a walk, scoring a run and was immediately relieved by Matt Hill. Hill gave up two more singles and before Dixie could get out of the inning, the Storm were looking at a 7-6 deficit.
DSU would recapture the lead in the bottom of the inning. Kline had his second home run of the game on a solo shot to left. Later Daltun Gust doubled in Ty Johnson. The Red Storm led 8-7.
The bats kept ringing for APU in the sixth. After leadoff batter Dusty Sanderson walked, the Cougars got two consecutive singles from Danny Gonzales and Joseph Daris, scoring Sanderson. Mitch Dergazarian then sacrificed to left field, scoring Gonzales. Matt Kimmel then singled to right. Domenic Biagini then doubled to right center scoring Kimmel and Daris. The Cougars lead was extended to 11-8.
Blair had his second homer of the night in the bottom of the inning, a two-run shot to right center field. At the end of six the Red Storm still trailed 11-10.
Dixie would tie the score in the bottom of the seventh on a Kamachi single, scoring Miles Bice, who was pinch running for Ty Johnson.
Relievers Evan Parker, Bronson Anderson and Bubba Blau were able to keep the Cougar offense in check over the last three innings. In the bottom of the ninth McLaughlin reached on a throwing error, then took second on another Cougar error. Austin Bartleson then moved McLaughlin to third on a fielder’s choice. Kamachi got the winning RBI with a sacrifice fly to center field.
“After last night, when we failed to respond to APU’s big inning, we challenged them today,” said Dixie head coach Chris Pfatenhauer. “I used a John Calipari quote. I told them teams are going to punch us in the mouth. We have to respond. Last night we did not. Tonight we got punched in the mouth. Tonight we responded.”
With the victories, Dixie State extended its lead over second place APU. Dixie moves to 26-12 overall and 20-3 in Pac West play. The Cougars fall to 19-12 overall and 12-7 in the Pac West.
The two teams will finish out their series with an 11 a.m. game Saturday at Bruce Hurst Field.
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