June 1, 2014
June 1, 2014
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – The Pepperdine baseball team capped an already exhilarating NCAA Regional run with a thrilling win on Sunday, scoring four runs in the ninth inning to beat top-seed Cal Poly 10-6. The win advances the Waves to their first-ever NCAA Super Regional since the format was implemented in 1999. It is the first time Pepperdine has advanced past the regional stage since the team won an NCAA Title in 1992.
After holding what looked to be a commanding 5-0 lead early, the Waves (42-16) gave up two runs in the bottom of the eighth to Cal Poly, evening the game at 6-6. Even with the home crowd fired up after the Mustangs’ rally, Pepperdine was able to load the bases and Bryan Langlois came through with a game-winning triple to clear them.
The Waves move on to face TCU in the Super Regional, with the two teams playing a best-of-three series for a spot in the College World Series.
“This was an amazing regional,” said head coach Steve Rodriguez. “The atmosphere at every game was fantastic and it really made it tough. There is something special about this group though, they know how to keep each other loose and know how to enjoy the moment. I can’t say enough about the competitors we had out there.”
The Waves jumped on Cal Poly starter Danny Zandona in the second inning, loading the bases with two outs in the inning. Manny Jefferson (Lakewood, Calif./Lakewood HS) helped push across the first run of the game by drawing a walk and then Brandon Caruso (Pasadena, Calif./Loyola HS) followed with a single to centerfield that plated two more. After Pepperdine again loaded the bases, Langlois (Oak Park, Calif./Oak Park HS) got the second big hit of the inning, driving in a pair of runs with a single to left. Langlois’ single would chase Zandona and bring in reliever Taylor Chris.
The Mustangs would answer, though, chipping away at the Waves’ lead by scoring runs in the next three innings, getting a homer from Jimmy Allen along the way. Pepperdine manufactured a run in the top of the fifth to keep it a four-run game, but the Mustangs answered with an RBI-groundout of their own.
Cal Poly’s second homer of the game, a solo-shot by Nick Torres, made it a 6-4 ballgame in the seventh. After Chris worked another scoreless inning for the Mustangs, Cal Poly found its final rally, coming up with two runs to even the game in the eighth and fire up a packed house in Baggett Stadium.
Even with all the momentum favoring the home team, Pepperdine found a way to get on base and set up Langlois’ heroics. Jefferson reached first on a slow roller to third and then Caruso followed with a bunt single down the first-base line. Austin Davidson (Oxnard, Calif./Oxnard HS) then faked a bunt and hit a chopper over the head of the Mustang’s charging third-baseman to load the bases.
From there Langlois stole the show, scorching a line drive to the wall in right-center to plate all three runner. The three-run triple gave the Waves a 9-6 lead and Langlois a career-high five-RBI day. Brad Anderson (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza HS) capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly to make it 10-6.
“I was really trying to get a changeup because he was really working the changeup hard to right-handed hitters,” said Langlois. “I got a bunch of them and I just fouled them straight back and I finally got one up and I was able to drive it. To be able to come through, it was nice.”
Chandler Blanchard (Henderson, Nev./Coronado HS) came back out to toss a scoreless ninth, getting a fly-out to left-field to end the game and start the celebration.
Jackson McClelland (Beaumont, Calif./Redlands East Valley HS) got the start and tossed 5.0 innings, giving up seven hits and three runs, while allowing just one walk. A.J. Puckett (Danville, Calif./De La Salle HS) relieved him in the sixth and then handed it over to Blanchard. Puckett worked a scoreless sixth inning, one of just four frames Cal Poly did not score in, before giving up the homer to Torres. He was relieved after giving up two hits to start the eighth, where the Mustangs would end up tying the game.
“I can’t say a (negative) word about how hard we competed,” said Rodriguez. “In this environment, you just have some amazing athletes competing their butts off.”
Caruso’s two-RBI and Lanlois five runs driven in were the only multi-RBI days for the Waves. Torres drove in three for the Mustangs. Four Pepperdine players had multi-hit day as the Waves posted 12 base-knocks in the game. Cal Poly had 14 hits, but left nine runners on base. Jimmy Allen was 3-for-5.
Aaron Barnett (Mission Viejo, Calif./Capistrano Valley HS), Hutton Moyer (San Diego, Calif./Cathedral Catholic HS), Aaron Brown (Chatsworth, Calif./Chatsworth HS) and Langlois were all named to the All-Regional team. Brown was named Regional MVP after tossing eighth innings and giving up just one unearned run in the Waves’ win yesterday.
The Waves have won six games in a row since starting postseason play. Pepperdine swept through three games at the WCC Tournament to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Regional and then swept through the San Luis Obispo regional. The third-seeded Waves opened with a 3-2 win over second-seed Arizona State, and then battled Cal Poly for a 2-1 win on Saturday to stay in the winner’s bracket. The 10-6 victory was the highest scoring game of the regional.