Waves Hold on for 4-3 Win Over USF in Series Finale
April 19, 2014
MALIBU, Calif. – The No. 19 Pepperdine baseball team closed out its series with San Francisco on a high-note Saturday, grabbing a hard-fought one-run win, 4-3, to extend its lead atop the WCC standings.
The Waves went up 4-0 early, but had to hold on late after the Dons scored runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Chandler Blanchard and Eric Karch threw three scoreless innings of relief to shut down the USF rally and preserve the win.
The victory gives the Waves their eighth 30-win season during head coach Steve Rodriguez’s 11-year tenure and increases the team’s lead over Loyola Marymount to two games in the conference standings. Pepperdine is now 30-9, 14-4 WCC with the victory and USF falls to 18-20, 7-11 WCC.
“We competed really well all weekend,” said Rodriguez, whose team took two of three games from the Dons. “The pitchers did a really good job and the offense kept hammering away. Even though we hit some balls hard and they didn’t fall, I told the guys that if they keep doing what they have been, good things will continue to happen.”
The Waves scored a pair of runs in both the third and fourth innings, to take the early 4-0 advantage. After Devin Carter (Temecula, Calif./Temecula Valley HS) led the third off with a double down the line, Hutton Moyer (San Diego, Calif./Cathedral Catholic HS) brought him in with a sacrifice fly. Bryan Langlois (Oak Park, Calif./Oak Park HS) made it a 2-0 game two batters later with an RBI single.
Brandon Caruso (Pasadena, Calif./Loyola HS) and Carter then recorded back-to-back RBI’s in the fourth to double the advantage. Carter finished the day 2-for-3 with an RBI and run scored.
USF finally struck in the fifth inning when Derek Atkinson singled to right to plate a run. Waves’ starter Aaron Brown (Chatsworth, Calif./Chatsworth HS) worked out of the jam, however, getting a pair of strikeouts and a groundout to end the inning. Atkinson would drive in another in the following frame as the Dons pulled within one after loading the bases and scoring two runs. Brown again limited the damage, though, inducing a popup to end the threat. Stellar defensive play also helped preserve the lead in the sixth, when Manny Jefferson (Lakewood, Calif./Lakewood HS) relayed a throw from centerfield to throw out a runner at the plate on an Atkinson double, keeping it a one-run game.
Brown tossed 6.0 innings on the day, striking out a career-high 10 batters while giving up just two earned runs and two walks. The victory moves the Waves’ lefty to a league-best 8-1 on the year.
“Being able to put Aaron on the mound in the final game of each series has been a real blessing for us this year,” said Rodriguez. “Then having a guy like Karch to close it out is huge. We have a ton of confidence in him at the end of games and know that when he comes in he is going to do everything he can to close it out.”
Blanchard (Henderson, Nev./Coronado HS) built the bridge from Brown to Karch (Fresno, Calif./Clovis West HS), tossing scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth with the Waves hanging on to the 4-3 lead. Karch then came in and struck out a pair in the ninth to finish it off and record his WCC-best 11th save of the year. Brown, who moved to centerfield after leaving the mound, recorded the final out of the game, running down a sinking liner in the right-center gap. Blanchard did not allow a hit in his 2.0 innings of work, also striking out two batters along the way.
Brown was also 2-for-4 at the plate and scored a run. The Waves posted nine hits in the game.
USF actually outhit Pepperdine on the day, with 10 base knocks. Nico Giarratano was 4-for-5 for the Dons, with one RBI, and Atkinson went 3-for-5 with two runs driven in. They were the only USF players to post multiple hits on the day.
The Waves have a nine-day break before their next contest when they host No. 3 Cal Poly on April 29. Pepperdine’s next WCC series will be at LMU, May 2-4.