This article originally appeared on ZU News.
On Thursday, Azusa Pacific routed UC San Diego 13-2 in the first game of a best-of-three West Super Regional series at home. Five cougars clobbered six home runs to back pitcher A.J. Woodall’s knockout performance.
APU got on the board early with a solo homer from third-baseman Osvaldo Tovalin in the bottom of the first. The Cougars added three more runs in the second inning off of back-to-back home runs from center-fielder Casey Dykstra and right-fielder Cole Kleszcz. With the homer today, Kleszcz increased his NCAA leading home run total to 26 on the season.
UCSD struck back with a two-run homer from shortstop Shay Whitcomb in the top of the third, cutting the Cougars lead to 4-2. However, these were the only runs UCSD would score during the game after APU ace Woodall regained his control.
Woodall tossed eight innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits and two walks, while striking out six. He probably would have gone the distance for a complete game if it had not been for two UCSD hitters who chewed up 21 pitches in the top of the eighth inning. Woodall ended the day with a workhorse 114 pitches, lowering his ERA to 3.30 on the season.
Although Woodall pitched dominantly, it proved to be unnecessary as APU poured on the offense. The Cougars failed to score in the third and fourth innings, but scored four more in the bottom of the fifth inning off a double from Tovalin, an RBI single from left-fielder Griffen Herrera, a two-run homer from catcher Justin Gomez and a solo bomb from designated-hitter Joseph Kim.
The Cougars continued their offensive dominance in the bottom of the sixth, scoring four more runs and going through the entire lineup. Dykstra was hit by a pitch to open the inning, then he stole second and scored off an RBI single from Kleszcz. Herrera walked, setting up a three-run homer from Gomez, his second long ball of the day. Four more Cougars reached base in the inning, but APU left the bases loaded with a two-out strikeout.
APU scored one more run in the bottom of the seventh off a double from Tovalin, who was knocked in off an RBI groundout from second-baseman Joe Quire Jr. This would be the final run of the game. Reliever Hayden Jorgenson closed out the game for the Cougars, fanning the final two batters he faced.
The Cougars claimed the first game in the best-of-three West Super Regional by a score of 13-2, improving to 40-13 on the season. APU notched 14 hits on the day, paced by Tovalin with three knocks and Gomez with five RBIs and two home runs. UCSD ended the game with five hits and one error.
APU will face UCSD again tomorrow at 12 p.m. at home and again at 3:30 p.m. if game three is necessary. If APU claims victory again tomorrow, they will head to the NCAA World Series in Cary, North Carolina from June 1-8.