AZUSA, Calif. – With the PacWest Championship on the line and possible NCAA playoff seeding at stake, the Dixie State Trailblazers traveled to Azusa for their final series of the season. Trailing by only a half-game, No. 9-nationally ranked Dixie State will need to take three out of four from No. 8-nationally ranked Azusa Pacific. The Blazers got the first game Monday night on a come-from-behind rally in the top of the ninth inning to grab a win 6-4.
“It seems like we have been in the opposite situation several more times this year,” said Dixie State head coach Chris Pfatenhauer. “It was nice to be on the other end for once, coming from behind late in the game.”
After two scoreless innings, the Blazers got on the scoreboard in the third inning. With two outs gone, DSU got three consecutive singles from Drew McLaughlin, Tyler Baker and Trey Kamachi — all to center field. Kamachi got the RBI. However, Azusa was quick to match and then some. The Cougars took the lead with a three-run home run in the bottom of the inning and carried that lead until the sixth.
Dixie State got two in the top of the sixth to tie the score. After the leadoff batter struck out, Tyler Mildenberg reached on an error. He then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Jerome Hill II got aboard after getting hit by a pitch. The runners attempted a double steal, but Mildenberg got caught at third. Miles Bice then doubled in Hill. Jake Davison singled and advanced Bice to third. Bryce Feist then batted in Bice with a single to center field.
“We had a two-week break heading into this series,” said Pfatenhauer. “While we were able to get healthy with some nicks here and there, we were also worried about getting stale. It was nice to see our guys come out and hit well against some very good pitching.”
Again, Azusa was quick to respond, retaking the lead in the bottom of the inning with a solo home run to make it 4-3. That slim lead carried to the final inning. After the initial batter went down swinging, the Blazers’ McLaughlin and Baker both drew walks. Kamachi then hit a two-RBI double to right center. After Kamachi stole third, he waltzed in on Logan Porter’s double to left center. The Blazers led for only the second time, 6-4.
Sean Hardman then retired three of the four batters he faced in the final inning to secure the victory. Hardman (3-0) got the win pitching the final 2.2 innings. Dylan File started and pitched six solid innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits.
“Dylan (File) was struggling physically today,” said Pfatenhauer. “We have had some respiratory illness going around the clubhouse and he was having some trouble getting his breath. Still, he put us in a situation to win and that is all we ask. Two pitches got them four runs. Other than that he pitched pretty well.”
McLaughlin and Kamachi both recorded multiple hits and Kamachi also led the team with three RBIs. As a team, the Blazers batted .270. With the win, Dixie State moves to 36-10-1 overall and take over first place from Azusa with a record of 25-7-1 in the PacWest. Azusa falls to 38-9 overall and 25-8 in the PacWest. The two teams resume their series Tuesday with a doubleheader. Game one is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Pacific Time.
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