Ayers takes flight on Azusa

Eagles split the home series against APU.


Courtesy of Biola Athletics (file)

Senior infielder Tyler White takes a monster swing.

Caleb Crawley, Sports Editor

Biola baseball split a doubleheader against Azusa Pacific on Saturday at Eagles Diamond. The non-conference series was the first meeting for the Eagles and Cougars in the Cornerstone Cup rivalry for the 2023 baseball season. 


Starting right-handed pitcher Andrew Beauvais illustrated his veteran experience in game one of the doubleheader. Beauvais tossed a masterful 7.1 innings with one earned run on five hits to supplement six strikeouts against the Cougars’ lineup — despite a rocky start. 

Biola’s defense allowed the game’s first two batters to reach base on back-to-back errors, putting APU runners in scoring position early. Beauvais responded by getting two groundouts in the inning, escaping the trouble by allowing only a single Cougar run. Biolan batters answered the call in the bottom of the first with a sacrifice fly by junior infielder AJ Ortiz, scoring senior infielder Tyler White, who reached base earlier in the inning on an APU error. 

Cougars’ first baseman Spencer Rasmussen broke the tie on a wall-scraping solo homerun over the right field fence, scoring Beauvais’s only earned run. Biola battled back to erase the deficit in the bottom of the frame. A single off the bat of junior outfielder Gavin Ayers followed by a double from freshman infielder Noah Ruiz put two Biola runners in scoring position. White capped off the rally with a three-run homer to center, giving Biola a 4-2 lead with plenty of momentum. 


Biola took the two-run lead into the top of the ninth when sophomore lefty Andrew Zittel was called on to relieve Beauvais. The Eagles’ pitching change sparked a rally for the Cougars. Down to their last at-bat with a runner on base, APU’s Omar Lopez revived his team with a home run to center, tying the contest at 4-4. Biola was unable to answer in the bottom of the ninth, sending the game into extra innings. Both teams reached a stalemate until the top of the 14th when Azusa scored the winning run on an RBI double. 


In game two, Biola looked to sophomore right-handed pitcher Bobby Brown to pick up their first win of the season against their Cornerstone Cup rival. The Cougars, however, picked up where they left off in the second inning with a two-run homer to left field off the bat of Jeffery Castillo, taking a 2-0 lead. The bottom of the second provided the Eagles with a bases-loaded opportunity. With runners in scoring position Ruiz hit a sacrifice fly to right, cutting APU’s lead in half 2-1. Ayers stepped up to the plate as the next batter and launched a three-run homer to clear the bases for Biola, taking their first lead of the game 4-2. Once again, the scrappy Cougars capitalized on timely hitting with runners in scoring position to tie the game. 

In the bottom of the fourth, the Eagles again looked to Ayers to drive runners in with two outs. The junior centerfielder delivered with his second three-run shot to left center for another round trip on the bases, breaking the tie 7-4. Biola added to their lead with a two-run bomb by junior designated hitter Andrew Lujan before the game was called in the Eagles’ favor after the fifth due to fleeting daylight.

Ayers had himself a career day, batting 3-3 with two home runs, six RBIs, and three runs scored while freshman righty Chris McClean earned his first collegiate win after relieving Brown on the mound. 

Biola will take on Cal Poly Pomona at home on Tuesday, Feb. 21 with the first pitch set for 1 p.m. 

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