FULLERTON, Calif. - The Pepperdine baseball team stayed alive in NCAA Regional play with a dramatic 10-8 win over Clemson on Saturday afternoon. The #4-seeded Waves staved off elimination with the win and will play again tomorrow.
Pepperdine gave up a seven-run lead only to come back with a run in the eighth and two in the ninth for the win over #3-seeded Clemson. The Waves will take on the loser of Cal State Fullerton and Arizona State tomorrow at 4 p.m. in another elimination game.
After the Tigers made a heroic comeback in the seventh inning, Chris Fornaci (Walnut Creek, Calif./De La Salle HS) led off the top of the eighth with a double down the line and then scored on a Brad Anderson (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza HS) single into left field to tie the game at 8-8.
After working a leadoff walk, Matt Gelalich (La Verne, Calif./Bonita HS) scored the go-ahead run on a wild play after a double by Manny Jefferson (Lakewood, Calif./Lakewood HS), coming home when the throw into the infield ricocheted off his back, to put Pepperdine up 9-8. Jefferson then came home on a Fornaci single through the left side to give the Waves a two-run lead.
Max Gamboa (Mill Valley, Calif./Tamalpais HS), who settled down after giving up a triple that scored the go-ahead run for Clemson in the seventh, took care of the final two frames on the mound for the Waves. Gamboa struck out two batters and stranded a runner on second in the eighth and then worked a perfect ninth to seal the win for the Waves. He gave up one hit and struck out four batters in his 2.1 innings of work.
Fornaci finished with a monster 4-for-6 game at the plate, driving in two runs and scoring two more. He was a triple shy of the cycle on Saturday. The Waves finished with 16 hits in the game, getting six multi-hit games, including a three-hit day for Jefferson.
The Waves jumped on Clemson starter Zack Erwin right out of the gate, getting a pair of runners on and then an RBI-single from Aaron Barnett (Mission Viejo, Calif./Capistrano Valley HS) with one out. Gelalich would score a runner with a sacrifice fly and then a Tiger error brought home the third run of the inning.
Fornaci added the Waves' fourth run with a solo-shot in the top of the second, giving Pepperdine the early 4-0 advantage. The Waves added a fifth run in the sixth inning on another sacrifice fly, chasing Erwin after 5.1 innings of work. Hutton Moyer (San Diego, Calif./Cathedral Catholic HS) then greeted reliever Charlie Barnes rudely, doubling to left to plate two more runs and give the Waves a 7-0 lead.
After that is when things got wild. Clemson scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth and then put up a six-run seventh inning to take an 8-7 lead. The Tigers scored their seven runs on six hits, sending 10 players to the plate in the inning.
Robert Jolly led the Tigers, going 3-for-5 at the plate and three different players drove in multiple runs for Clemson. The Tigers end their season 32-29, while Pepperdine improves to 31-28.
Despite getting a no-decision, A.J. Puckett (Danville, Calif./De La Salle HS) gave the Waves a strong start, tossing 6.1 innings before the Tigers opened up their comeback in the seventh. Puckett held Clemson scoreless for five innings to start the game, striking out five batters on the day.