ST. GEORGE – The Dixie State baseball team had blazed a clear path to victory Thursday night at home against Azusa Pacific. And then, suddenly, things went south.
After Dixie State climbed early to a 4-1 lead through four innings, the APU pitching shut the Trailblazers down over the last five innings and overtook them in the seventh en route to a 6-4 Cougars win at Bruce Hurst Field.
“We hit their starter (Joe Huthsing) early,” said Dixie State head coach Chris Pfatenhauer. “He pitches low in the zone. Early on, our hits were getting through. We did not have the same success in the later innings.”
Leadoff hitter Tanner Morache started the first with a single up the middle. The next batter, Drew McLaughlin, hit one to the same spot, advancing Morache. Trey Kamachi reached on a fielder’s choice. The runners advanced to second and third on a wild pitch. After a strikeout for the second out, Ryan Rodriguez singled through the right side to score Kamachi and McLaughlin.
The Cougars put a run up in the top of the second to pull within 2-1. The Storm added one run in both the third and fourth innings. In the third, Hall singled in McLaughlin with a liner through the right side. Morache batted in Miles Bice in the fourth with a single through the left side.
For the rest of the game, the Trailblazers stranded four runners, but they never had more than one person reach in any given inning. Defensively, Aaron Pope replaced starter Preston Hannay for Dixie State.
“Hannay was not as sharp as he usually is,” said Pfatenhauer. “We had a couple of double plays that got him out of jams. But Pope was coming off injury and we felt it would be a good opportunity to get him some work.”
The Cougars put up two runs in both the sixth and seventh innings to take their first lead. “We had a couple of miscues in the sixth inning,” said Pfatenhauer. “Both of those runs were unearned. Then they got a two-out home run in the seventh on a 3-0 pitch.”
The Cougars added an insurance run in the ninth inning to go up 6-4.
“We have 12 games left,” said Pfatenhauer. “We emphasized that every pitch is important from here on out.”
Huthsing got the win to go to 7-1 on the year. Pope fell to 2-2 with the loss. Offensively, McLaughlin led four multiple-hit batters with three hits. McLaughlin tied Colton Yack as Dixie State’s all-time hits leader (192). He will get a chance to break the record Friday afternoon when the series resumes with a doubleheader.
“He is an amazing player,” said Pfatenhauer. “He is only a junior. He broke the record in less than three years and has a whole year plus to add to it.”
Game time for Friday’s first game is set for 4 p.m.
Email: [email protected]
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.