May 12, 2007
Malibu, Calif. - Senior Clayton Mortensen struck out 15 in a five-hit complete-game effort to lead Gonzaga to a 7-1 victory over No. 17 Pepperdine Saturday afternoon at Eddy D. Field Stadium that clinched the three-game series for the Bulldogs and secured their berth in the West Coast Conference (WCC) Championship Series.
The win by Gonzaga (32-21, 15-5) ended the Waves' three-year reign as conference champions and halted their streak of eight consecutive WCC Championship Series appearances dating back to 1999.
Pepperdine (31-19, 10-7) lost its season-high tying third straight game and fifth consecutive WCC contest dating back to a series sweep at the hands of regular-season champion San Diego at the end of April.
Gonzaga and San Diego will meet in the best-of-three championship series May 25-27 at Cunningham Stadium to determine the WCC's automatic entrant into the 64-team NCAA Tournament that begins June 1.
Meanwhile, the Waves will look to finish the season strong while playing their final five games and hope to receive an at-large bid. The announcement of the 64-team NCAA Tournament field will be televised live by ESPN on Monday, May 28, beginning at 9:30 a.m. (PDT).
Mortensen (8-2) showed that he was on his game at the outset, striking out four batters in the first two innings and struck out the side in the ninth to record his fifth complete game of the season.
Sophomore left-hander Robert Dickmann (5-4) started for Pepperdine and held the Bulldogs hitless for 2.2 innings before surrendering an infield single to Bryan Winston that sparked a two-run rally for the Bulldogs.
It looked like Dickmann might get out of the inning without allowing any runs when he appeared to have Winston picked off first base. With Dickmann's first move, Winston broke for second and was safe with a stole base when first baseman Ryan Heroy's throw to second was wide.
Winston advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on an infield single in the hole at shortstop by Ryan Wiegand. Dustin McClough followed with a single to center field that took a high hop off the glove of Waves shortstop Danny Worth and scored Darin Holcomb, who reached base via an intentional walk.
Gonzaga increased its lead to 5-0 in the fourth on a one-out home run to left field by Mike Terry and four consecutive two-out singles that ended Dickmann's afternoon.
Junior right hander Adam Olbrychowski relieved Dickmann and got out of the inning with one pitch before surrendering a run in the fifth inning as the Bulldogs increased their lead to 6-0.
That would be more than enough run support for Mortensen, who allowed just two singles to Worth through six innings.
The Waves finally broke through against the Gonzaga right hander in the seventh inning, loading the bases with one out. Heroy drove in Pepperdine's only run of the contest with an infield single.
With the bases still loaded, Mortensen got out of the inning by striking out the next two batters to end the threat.
Pepperdine once again put two on with none out in the eighth inning, but Mortensen induced a flyout and struck out the final two batters to end the frame.
Mortensen struck out seven batters over the final three innings.
Pepperdine will attempt to salvage the final game of the series when it hosts Gonzaga Sunday at 1 p.m.