April 19, 2006
When the Journalism Association of Community Colleges (JACC) was looking for a venue for its sports writing contest, the proctors of the annual convention called upon LMU and Pepperdine. Almost 100 student reporters covered the West Coast Conference opener between the Lions and the then-19th-ranked Waves at Page Stadium, complete with an NCAA-style post-game press conference. Below, the convention's sports writing titlist shares his winning game recap.
Award Winning Recap by Los Medanos College's Justin Lafferty
The last time Pepperdine's baseball team visited LMU, it was not a fond memory for the host Lions.
Last year, the Lions faced the Waves in the West Coast Conference Championship Series, but lost to their natural rivals who went on to the NCAA playoffs.
"Watching the other team dogpile on your home turf," said LMU infielder Matt Carter, "was just a horrible feeling."
The Lions made sure that Friday's match, the WCC play opener, would not be an encore performance of last year's heartbreaker.
While it may have taken the game into the later acts for it to develop, the Lions were able to bludgeon a tired Paul Coleman for an 8-1 victory over the Waves. LMU ace Brad Meyers (5-2), who excels when he can spot his high-80 MPH fastball on the outside corners, sprinkled five hits and four strikeouts throughout 8 2/3 innings.
Meyers was amazingly effective against a Waves lineup that looked lost through most of the afternoon. He was able to stymie their strong top of the order and only looked more in control as the game progressed.
Those first three hitters - second baseman David Uribes, centerfielder Adrian Ortiz and catcher Chad Tracy - batted a collective 3-for-12 against Meyers.
Pepperdine's hitters were no mystery to Meyers. He had played with Ortiz, who has been drafted to play in the Major Leagues, in a summer league.
"They're pretty strong," Meyers said of the top of the Waves lineup. "I pretty much already knew how I wanted to pitch to those guys. Tracy is a really powerful hitter, and I tried to stay away from him and make him chase balls out of the zone."
While Meyers was masterfully able to keep both balls and runs away from Waves hitters, his counterpart on the hill did not fare as well later in the game.
What originally looked like a gem of a pitching duel between the two schools' top pitchers became a slugfest. Pepperdine's Paul Coleman (4-2) started off the game hot, trading zeros with Meyers most of the afternoon, but lost steam as his arm felt the effects of a high pitch count. Coleman, a southpaw with a high leg kick, relies on finesse and a below-average sinking fastball to manufacture groundball outs, which were hard to come by in his later innings.
Right fielder Erik Johnson made the first dent in the scoreboard in the sixth inning when he parked a poorly spotted Coleman fastball over the monstrous Mikos Blue Monster, breaking the scoreless tie.
"We were battling back and forth and we had some opportunities to capitalize," Johnson said. "Just to get one run is all we needed and then all the momentum came right back to us and we got fired up."
Johnson's home run was his second of the year and an awfully loud way of prolonging his sixteen game hit streak.
The next time Coleman took the hill, in the seventh inning, he would be out there for a while.
Third baseman Kyle Mura led off the inning with a single to right field, setting the pace for a big inning for the Lions. After Brian Wilson lined out to the left fielder, catcher Sean Dovel snared a seeing-eye grounder past a diving Nick Kliebert at first base, advancing Mura to third base.
A.J. LaMonda then got the Lions on the scoreboard again with a bunt along the first base side. Kliebert was wild on his throw to the plate, and Mura was able to score easily.
DeAndre Miller continued LMU's scoring assault with a two-RBI double right after LaMonda's bunt.
Coleman was able to save face and end the seventh inning, striking out the final two batters, but the damage was done. He was taken out in relief of submarining righty Brian Ozols after he threw 109 pitches through seven innings.
Just because Coleman was on the bench did not mean that the Lions were done lighting up the scoreboard. Ozols, who boasted a plus slider, did not fare much better than his predecessor, giving up four more runs in LMU's final offensive inning.
If Pepperdine could look back at one positive moment in the game, it was avoiding a shutout in the final frame. Meyers started the ninth inning, already over 100 pitches, looking to put the finishing touches on a shutout. The Waves had other plans. Pepperdine rallied against a tired Meyers, as a Tracy single into right field set up a Kliebert RBI single.
"I felt it was a pretty well-played game," Cruz said. "Well-pitched by both pitchers... Brad Meyers kept us in the game and gave us an opportunity to be able to make those simple mistakes and come back."
The win was huge for the Lions, who were able to vanquish their biggest rival. Pepperdine, which is in nearby Malibu, came into the game ranked the 19th-best team in the country. Cruz felt that the victory was an ideal way to kick-start the regular season and that the team could keep playing inspired ball throughout the series and the year.
With the win, the Lions advanced to 12-20 overall with a 1-0 record in WCC play. The Waves are now 19-12 and 0-1 against WCC opponents.
LMU looks to continue their winning ways tomorrow at 1 p.m. in game two of the three-game series. The Lions will be sending sophomore Andy Beal to the mound to face Pepperdine freshman Brett Hunter.