STOCKTON, Calif. - The Pepperdine baseball team punched its ticket to a second-straight NCAA Tournament with a 4-2 win over LMU on Saturday night in the WCC Tournament title game. It is the second year in a row that the Waves have defeated LMU in the conference championship.
Pepperdine got a heroic performance on the mound from Chandler Blanchard and used the long ball once again to secure the win offensively. Matt Gelalich also played the part of hero on Saturday for the Waves, making highlight-reel plays in the field and driving in two of the team's four runs at the plate with a homer and a single.
The Waves (30-27) will find out where they are headed for NCAA Regional play on Monday at 9 a.m. when the NCAA releases the entire tournament field. This will be the 30th NCAA postseason appearance for the program and is the sixth WCC Tournament title for the Waves since the playoff was instituted in 1999.
It was the long ball that put the Waves ahead early, with Brad Anderson (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza HS) hitting his second home run of the tournament to put Pepperdine up 1-0 in the first inning. Gelalich (La Verne, Calif./Bonita HS) then followed with a solo-shot in the fourth inning to give the Waves a 2-1 lead.
Gelalich also made his presence known on the field, making a spectacular diving catch in centerfield to end the second inning.
After giving up a run in the bottom of the first, Blanchard (Henderson, Nev./Coronado HS) tossed four hitless innings before giving up a single to David Fletcher in the sixth. Blanchard proceeded to pick Fletcher off at first and then strike out the batter to keep the Waves ahead by one run. Blanchard then worked out of a jam in the seventh, stranding runners on first and second with a groundout.
Gelalich went back to work in the top of the eighth, singling in a run with two outs to give the Waves an insurance run.
After Blanchard exited with one out in the eighth, LMU put runners on first and third and then David Edwards hit one off the wall to score a run. The runner from first tried to score as well, but was thrown out on the relay by Manny Jefferson (Lakewood, Calif./Lakewood HS) at home.
Kolten Yamaguchi (Kona, Hawai'i/Konawaena HS) got the run right back for the Waves, crushing a ball to right field for Pepperdine's third solo-home run of the game. Max Gamboa (Mill Valley, Calif./Tamalpais HS) entered the game in the eighth and after giving up the one run in that inning, he worked a perfect ninth to get the save and set off the celebration.
Blanchard tossed a career-best 7.1 innings, giving up four hits and just one run to record his third win of the year. It was just the fourth start this season for the Waves' righty, who has made 23 appearances out of the bullpen.
Gelalich finished the day 2-for-4 at the plate, with two RBI, one run scored and a stolen base. The Waves had five hits in the game, three of which cleared the outfield fence. Pepperdine finished the tournament with six total homers. Anderson was 1-for-2 with an RBI, two runs scored and three walks on the day.
Sean Watkins took the loss for the Lions, who used four pitchers in the contest. LMU ends its season 33-21-1.