STOCKTON, Calif. - The Pepperdine baseball team opened postseason play the same way it closed the regular season, winning in walk-off fashion against BYU, 8-7, in the first game of the WCC Tournament thanks to an Aaron Barnett single. Pepperdine closed the regular season with a walk-off win over Gonzaga just four days ago.
The Waves came back from a 5-0 deficit, scoring all eight runs in the final two innings to secure the dramatic win and stay in the winner's bracket of the four-team tournament. Pepperdine will take on LMU tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. for a spot in the WCC Championship game. Barnett drove in four of the Waves' eight runs in the final two inning.
After falling behind by five runs, the Waves broke through and put five runs on the board in the bottom of the eighth. Pepperdine loaded the bases with no outs in the inning to chase BYU starter Brandon Kinser. After a flyout, Barnett (Mission Viejo, Calif./Capistrano Valley HS) came to the plate and laced a line drive into right field to score the first two runs of the game.
Brandon Caruso (Pasadena, Calif./Loyola HS) then legged out an infield single to bring home the third run for Pepperdine. With runners on first and third, Matt Gelalich (La Verne, Calif./Bonita HS) hit a liner into right field that was caught, but brought home a run. On the play, the throw from the outfield sailed into the stands and allowed Caruso to score from first and tie the game.
Pepperdine seemed to have all the momentum heading into the ninth, but the Cougars responded with a two-out, two-run single to grab the lead right back, 7-5.
The Waves were far from done. Kolten Yamaguchi (Kona, Hawai'i/Konawaena HS) launched a solo-homer to right to lead off the bottom of the ninth, setting the stage for Barnett's final blow. A hit-by-pitch and then back-to-back singles, including a perfectly placed bunt by Brad Anderson (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza HS), loaded the bases with one out. Barnett then ripped a ball down the first-base line that BYU first-baseman Dillon Robinson couldn't handle, bringing home two runs and setting off a celebration for the Waves.
Barnett went 4-for-5 with four RBI and one run scored on the day. Chris Fornaci (Walnut Creek, Calif./De La Salle HS) was 3-for-3 at the plate, with a walk, hit-by-pitch and run scored, and Caruso was 2-for-3 on the day. The Waves recorded 12 hits in the game.
BYU had 10 hits on the night, including four from Hayden Nielsen. Nielsen drove in two runs and scored three.
The Cougars got on the board first with an unearned run in the top of the third, scoring on a throwing error that turned a possible double play into a 1-0 deficit for the Waves. A two-out single in the top of the fourth made it 2-0 in favor of BYU. A run in the sixth inning extended the Cougar lead to 3-0 and then Robinson put BYU up by five with a two-run homer to right.
After getting the start, Jackson McClelland (Beaumont, Calif./Redlands East Valley HS) exited the game prior to the eighth, leaving after 7.0 IP, five hits, six strikeouts and two earned runs. Mason Marshall took the loss in relief for the Cougars and Max Gamboa (Mill Valley, Calif./Tamalpais HS) got the win for Pepperdine.
It was the fourth walk-off win for the Waves, who move to 28-26 on the year. BYU falls to 28-24 and will take on San Diego in an elimination game on Friday at noon.