May 7, 2006
Spokane, Wash. - Senior right hander James Johnson struck out a career-high nine batters in 8.2 innings and No. 21 Pepperdine collected a season-high tying 16 hits as the Waves registered a series-clinching 10-4 victory over Gonzaga in the finale of a three-game West Coast Conference (WCC) series Sunday afternoon at Avista Stadium.
The win enabled Pepperdine (33-17, 12-6) to remain in a first-place tie with San Francisco (32-19, 12-6), which completed a three-game sweep of Saint Mary's with a 7-6 victory on Sunday.
Both the Waves and Dons have three conference games remaining as they close out WCC play next weekend. Pepperdine travels to Saint Mary's while San Francisco hosts Loyola Marymount. The Dons hold the tie-breaker over the Waves for the right to host the WCC Championship Series should both teams tie for first place by virtue of their series win over Pepperdine earlier in the year.
San Diego (30-20, 11-7) is one game behind Pepperdine and San Francisco and concludes WCC play next weekend at home against Gonzaga. Loyola Marymount (21-27, 8-7) is still in contention to earn a berth in the WCC Championship Series as the Lions have six conference games remaining. Following next weekend's series at San Francisco, LMU closes WCC play at Portland in two weeks.
For the second time this season, Johnson (5-1) came within an out of a complete game before needing relief help from sophomore Brian Ozols, who recorded the final out. Johnson was working on a three-hit shutout entering the ninth before allowing six hits and four runs in the inning.
The senior right hander received plenty of run support as Pepperdine broke open a 1-0 game with a five-run fourth inning sending nine batters to the plate against Bulldogs starter Jay Bryner (0-1) and reliever Brandon Harmon.
Sophomore Donald Brown had the big hit of the inning as he singled to left-center field to drive in two runs and give Pepperdine a 3-0 lead. Sophomore Matt Aidem also had an RBI single in the inning. The Waves added two more runs in the fifth and scored twice in the seventh inning to take a 10-0 lead.
For the fifth time this season and second game in a row, the Waves hammered out a season-high tying 16 hits. It also marked the eighth straight game that Pepperdine has reached double-digits in hits.
Pepperdine returns to action on Tuesday when it hosts UC Riverside in a non-conference game at Eddy D. Field Stadium beginning at 3 p.m.