The Dixie State University baseball team broke records as it split the four-game series with Azusa Pacific University over the weekend.
The Trailblazers came into the game having won 15 of their last 16 games dating back to March 14. They sat in second place in the Pacific West Conference while the Cougars of APU lurked behind them in third.
The Trailblazers pounced early as they plated two runs in the first inning. They would also tally a run in each of the third and fourth innings with singles by their redshirt seniors, first baseman Sam Hall and infielder Tanner Morache to give the Trailblazers a 4-1 lead.
The Cougars would mount a late-game rally as they pushed across two runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh to steal the lead away. APU added an insurance run in the ninth to cap off the 6-4 victory.
Morache recorded his 22nd multi-hit game of the season going 2-5, while redshirt junior infielder Drew McLaughlin went 3-5.
Morache leads the PacWest Conference in hits. He is followed closely by McLaughlin, who is second on the list. The duo also sport two of the three best batting averages in the conference. Morache sits in second, hitting .426, while McLaughlin is third, batting .407.
“Our goal each week is to win the series,” head coach Chris Pfatenhauer said. “When you put yourself in a hole like we did, we talk about changing our goals.”
Despite recording 14 hits, the Trailblazers offense struggled in the first game of their doubleheader. Sophomore pitcher Dylan File pitched seven complete innings of work while allowing five runs on nine hits.
DSU’s lone run came in the fourth inning via a balk that scored redshirt freshman infielder Bryce Feist. The Cougars scored all of their runs from the fifth inning on and cruised to the 8-1 victory.
McLaughlin broke the DSU record for career hits during the third inning of the game. His 193rd hit came as he legged out a bunt. The previous record of 192 was held by Colton Yack.
“It was nice to be able to do that and have my team congratulate me,” said McLaughlin, a criminal justice major from Scottsdale, Arizona. “It was pretty special.”
Game two of the twin bill was offensive-heavy as a total of 11 runs were scored in the first three innings of play. APU opened up the game with a run in the first inning and three runs in the second. The Trailblazers responded by pushing across three runs in the home half of the opening inning followed by four runs in the third.
Junior outfielder Miles Bice was a big part of DSU’s offense as he went 3-4 with three RBIs. McLaughlin also went 3-4 and scored three runs.
The Trailblazers scored a pair of runs in the sixth before notching their 31st win of the season by a score of 9-6.
“After the first two games fell to them, we really had to come out fighting,” said Bice, a business administration major from Henderson, Nevada. “We know that we can put up runs, and our pitchers can put up zeroes.”
DSU showed its resiliency in the final game of the series. After an error on a would-be double play in the first inning, the Cougars capitalized by scoring four runs. APU would score in the second and the third, and it quickly found itself leading 6-0.
The Trailblazers set their sights on a comeback and would not be disappointed. They scored a run in the fourth and two more in the fifth to cut the lead in half.
“One of the themes in our program has been, ‘Be resilient,’” Pfatenhauer said. “It’s written on one of our championship rings. Ultimately, it came down to our bullpen and the way they pitched.”
DSU completed the comeback in the seventh with three runs, the last of which came off the bat of Bice.
Also in the inning, Morache broke another DSU record. His lead-off single set the record for most hits in a season with 75, breaking the previous record held by Jimmy Dever.
After silencing the Cougars in the ninth, the game was sent to extra innings. APU proceeded to load the bases in the tenth, but senior pitcher Chance Abrath slammed the door.
Following an intentional walk to Morache to load the bases, McLaughlin singled up the middle to score the game-winning run.
“I was mad at myself after swinging at a curveball in the dirt,” McLaughlin said. “He came back at me with another curveball that was over the middle, and I did what I could to put a good swing on it.”
With the win, DSU moves to 32-10 overall and 20-8 in the PacWest. Its final four home games of the season will come against Hawaii Pacific University beginning Friday. It will also have senior night in the final home game of the season, which will take place Saturday at 5 p.m. at Bruce Hurst Field.