May 11, 2007
Malibu, Calif. - Gonzaga rallied for three runs in to top of the ninth inning to erase a 3-2 deficit and defeat No. 17 Pepperdine, 5-3, in the opener of a crucial three-game West Coast Conference (WCC) series Friday afternoon at Eddy D. Field Stadium.
The loss was a big blow to the Waves (31-18, 10-6) as they pursue a ninth straight appearance in the WCC Championship Series that determines the conference's automatic entrant into the 64-team NCAA Tournament.
Pepperdine fell 2.5 games behind Gonzaga (31-21, 14-5) and now needs to win the remaining two games if the Waves hope to advance to the conference championship series against San Diego. This weekend marks the end of WCC play for the Bulldogs, while the Waves are scheduled to travel to Portland next weekend for a three-game series.
Trailing 3-2 heading into the ninth inning, the Bulldogs opened the frame with back-to-back hits off Pepperdine junior All-American Barry Enright (11-3). The Waves right hander was relieved by junior Jason Dominguez.
Pinch-hitter Ben Greenslitt greeted Dominguez with a perfectly placed bunt down the third base line that loaded the bases with no outs. Mark Caselitto, pinch hitting for Brandon Blank, tied the game with a sacrifice fly to right field.
After a fly ball to left field for the second out of the inning, Bryan Winston and Darin Holcomb followed with consecutive RBI singles to center field, plating two runs and giving the Bulldogs their first lead of the game at 5-3.
Jeremy Stumetz (4-1), who allowed the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth inning, pitched a perfect ninth to secure the win and hand Pepperdine its fourth straight conference loss, fifth in the last six games and eighth overall defeat in its last 10 games.
The four straight WCC losses are the most by Pepperdine since it was swept in a four-game series at Santa Clara and the lost a series-opener to San Diego in 1997.
Friday's game started out as pitchers' duel between Enright and Gonzaga starter Josh Monroe.
Monroe allowed single runs in the second and third innings and Gonzaga tied the score, 2-2, with a pair of runs in the fourth inning.
After missing 12 games due to a leg injury, sophomore third baseman Chase d'Arnaud returned to the line-up for the first time since April 10th and singled to lead off the second inning. d'Arnaud moved to second on misplayed bunt attempt, was sacrificed to third and scored the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly by Denny Duron.
d'Arnaud drove in the game's second run with a two-out single into right-center field that scored Eric Thames from second base.
Enright, who set a career-high with nine strikeouts, was a bit unlucky in the fourth inning as he allowed a squib single up the third base line to open the frame. After a flyout, Dustin Colclough hit a ground ball single through the left side, and with two outs, Shaun Wayt singled home the Bulldogs' first run.
Gonzaga's second run scored on an error by shortstop Danny Worth.
Meanwhile, Monroe was pitching out of trouble throughout most of his 7.2 innings of work as Pepperdine put runners on base in seven of the first eight innings. However, Monroe and Stumetz were able to come up with the big pitch when they needed it as they stranded 10 Pepperdine base runners.
The Waves were finally able to push across a go-ahead run in the eighth inning, rallying with two outs. Freshman Ryan Heroy ended Monroe's afternoon with a single to right field. Stumetz relieved Monroe and promptly surrendered a single to Duron.
Freshman catcher Travis Tartamella broke the tie with a double to left-center field that scored pinch-runner Joe Evans, gave Pepperdine a 3-2 lead and runners on second and third with the top of the Waves' line-up coming up.
However, Stumetz got out of the inning with minimal damage when he struck out Adrian Ortiz.
Pepperdine will look to stay alive in the race for the WCC Championship Series when it hosts Gonzaga Saturday at Eddy D. Field Stadium beginning at 1 p.m.