Dixie State could not overcome a combined six Azusa Pacific home runs as the Trailblazers dropped the first two games of their home Pacific West Conference series with the No. 1-ranked Cougars, 13-7 and 8-2, on Thursday at Bruce Hurst Field.
In the opener, APU (16-0, 6-0 PacWest) ambushed the Trailblazers from the get-go, plating six runs in the first and three more runs in the fifth to race to a 9-0 lead. The Cougars used a pair of three-run home runs to take control, the first coming off the bat of Pablo O’Connor after two baserunners reached to lead off the game, while Tim Lichty connected for a long ball with one out in the fifth.
Dixie State (5-11, 1-5 PacWest) broke through with a run in the home fifth on a Brody Clifford run-scoring infield single, then erupted for four runs in the sixth to cut the deficit to 9-5. Kyle Hoffman and Jagun Leavitt both legged out two-run doubles in the rally to pull the Trailblazers back into the game.
However, Azusa Pacific ended any chance of a Trailblazer comeback as the Cougars scored four runs in the eighth, including APU’s third three-run homer of the game, this time by Austin Russ, which pushed the lead to 13-5. DSU came back with two in the home eighth but could not claw its way any closer.
Leavitt finished with three hits and three RBIs to lead the Trailblazers, while Hoffman collected three hits with two RBIs and two runs scored, as DSU finished with 14 safeties in the game one.
APU kept the hot bats going to start the seven-inning nightcap, scoring eight unanswered runs in its first five offensive frames. The Cougars hit three more home runs in game two, including a Justin Gomez solo shot and another Russ three-run blast as part of a five-run second.
DSU loaded the bases to begin the fifth as Gabe Taylor, Hoffman and Tyler Hollow all reached on singles, but the Trailblazers were held to just two runs, which came on a double play and wild pitch. Dixie State was held to just one more hit in the final two frames and managed just five hits for the game.
The two teams will continue the series with a single game Friday beginning at 4 p.m.
Steve Johnson is the Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations and Collegiate Licensing at Dixie State University. For more DSU Athletics news, please visit www.dixiestateathletics.com and follow Dixie State on Twitter at @DixieAthletics.