The Red Storm bounced back after seeing a season-long 13 game win streak snapped Friday night with two wins to improve its season record to 26-12, 20-3 in the PacWest. APU totaled 15 runs and 24 hits, but their solid offense was not enough. The Cougars fell to 19-12 overall and 12-7 in the PacWest.
In Friday's opener, Dixie State junior starter John Conquy (Las Vegas, NV) took the ball and tossed his first complete game of the year. A three-run third inning and another APU run in the seventh did not deter Conquy in his quest for a full nine frames. He matched his season-high with six strikeouts to become the Storm's first six-game winner. Conquy needed 104 pitches to down the Cougars while scattering 10 hits.
Offensively, Kris Kaplan (Las Vegas, NV) and Tyler Blair (Henderson, NV) led DSU's 18-hit barrage. Dixie State sprinted out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Drew McLaughlin (Scottsdale, AZ) and Yuto Kata (Chiba, Japan) each singled off APU starter Zach Hedges. Trey Kamachi (Kapolei, HI) beat out a double play grounder to plate McLaughlin. Kamachi would later score on the tail end of a double steal of second base and home. Kaplan swatted an RBI single with two outs to cap the inning.
The Cougars evened up the game with three runs in the third inning, but DSU has a response. After Blair doubled with one out, Kaplan lined an RBI single to give Dixie State a 4-3 lead. Ty Johnson (Thousand Oaks, CA) later added a run-scoring single.
A two-out rally pushed the Storm's lead to 8-4 after four innings. RBI singles by Kline and Blair preceded a two-run home run from Kline to left field, his fifth long ball on the year.
Blair launched a three-run blast to right center field in the sixth inning to build a nine-run cushion. Kaplan and Blair each finished a triple shy of the cycle and knocked home four RBI.
Hedges was tagged for 12 earned runs on 15 hits over 5.1 innings in the loss. In his previous 49.2 innings prior to Friday, he had allowed only five earned runs on 29 hits.
During the nightcap, the Cougars nabbed the first run in the opening frame with an RBI single from Mitch Dergazarian off DSU starter Kort Christoffersen (Ogden, UT). The lead was short lived as Kline demolished a 0-1 pitch for a three-run home run that careened off one of the light standards at Hurst.
Dixie State added three more runs in the fourth to lead, 6-1. Kata began the run scoring with a fielder's choice to plate Blair. Dalton Gust (Riverton, UT) and Austin Bartleson (Kennewick, WA) each added RBI singles later in the inning.
Azusa Pacific rallied in the fifth inning, as they did in the series opener. Six runs on six hits chased not only Christofferen from the contest, but also Taylor Stone (Sierra Vista, AZ) who walked his lone batter. Matt Hill (Cypress, CA) allowed the final two hits of the frame resulting in three runs and a 7-6 APU advantage.
Kline wasted little time erasing the deficit, driving a 2-1 pitch over the wall in left for his second homer. Gust provided a two-out double to push the Storm ahead 8-7.
APU rallied again behind its offense to score two runs on three hits off Hill. Storm closer Evan Parker (Ogden, UT) took the hill to try and stymie the Cougars, but surrendered a two-run pinch-hit double to Dominic Biagini. APU looked to be control up 11-8 with two innings left.
The Cougars turned to their closer, Luis Martinez, after Dixie State got Kamachi aboard with a single. After fanning his first batter, Martinez left a 2-1 pitch over the plate that Blair lifted for a home run to right-center field.
Parker retired the APU side in order in the 7th inning to set the stage for Dixie State to tie the game in the bottom half of the inning. Johnson led off with a single and was pinch run for by Miles Bice (Henderson, NV). APU misplayed a sacrifice bunt attempt from Gust, leading to runners at first and second. McLaughlin bounced into a double play, but Bice advanced to third. Austin Bartleson made it to first after a Martinez pitch clipped him. Kamachi took advantage his at-bat by singling through the right side and tying the game at 11-11.
Parker was fantastic in his 2.1 innings of work that included shutting down the Cougars in the 8th. Bronson Anderson (Lehi, UT) began the ninth and ran into some trouble with two consecutive walks with one out. Bubba Blau (Roy, UT) entered from the pen to induce a critical double play ball to end the APU threat.
In the Dixie State half of the ninth inning, McLaughlin led off and reached second base on a throwing error. Bartleson bounced out to the right side, moving McLaughlin to third. One pitch later, Kamachi hit a fly ball deep enough to center field to score McLaughlin and end the game.
Blau threw four pitches to earn the win in relief (1-1). Seth Gill only allowed one hit for APU, but took the loss (0-1). The top five men in the Dixie State lineup each had two hits. Kline led the club with four RBI in the nightcap.
The series finale between the Red Storm and the Cougars in set for Saturday morning at 11 a.m.