Bywater Blanks No. 19 USD In Waves 5-0 Win
May 21, 2010
MALIBU, Calif. - Junior Matt Bywater (Thousand Oaks, Calif./Thousand Oaks HS) broke the Pepperdine season record for shutouts Friday afternoon at Eddy D. Field Stadium with a gutsy performance in the Waves' 5-0 victory over No. 19 San Diego. Bywater's fourth shutout broke a nine-way tie for first place on the all-time list as he surpassed former legends such as Mike Scott, Randy Wolf and Patrick Ahearne.
But other than holding the West Coast Conference's final undefeated team scoreless, Bywater's statistics were rather humdrum compared to previous starts as he allowed nine hits and three walks while mixing in five strikeouts against the league's No. 2 hitting team. The Toreros consistently threatened to score by putting runners on base in all but one inning, but time and time again Bywater and his defense performed escape acts that would even make Houdini jealous.
"The defense was huge today," Bywater said. "Colin (Rooney) made a great play at third base to double off the guy at second, Zach (Vincej) and Joe (Sever) consistently got to ground balls in the hole, and Miles' (Silverstein) throw from left field was probably the biggest play of the day."
An inning removed from leaving a runner stranded at third, Bywater again found himself in more trouble in the second with the bases loaded and one out. He had just walked No. 8 batter Bryan Haar after being ahead in the count and his first pitch to Zach Walters was about to be smoked through the hole on the left side when senior Colin Rooney (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza HS) made a diving catch of a low line drive and picked off Zach Kometani, who couldn't retreat to second base in time.
Bywater received another tailor-made double play ball the next frame as 2009 WCC Player of the Year James Meador grounded sharply to freshman Joe Sever (San Jose, Calif./Bellarmine College Preparatory) for the start of a 4-6-3 twin killing, and then in the fifth, Bywater caught Walters leaning off first base for his first pick off of the season.
Pepperdine broke the game open in the bottom half of their inning, scoring all five of their runs on five hits, none of which was bigger than Rooney's bases-loaded double down the left-field line.
"He (USD starter Kyle Blair) was throwing me sliders that I kept fouling off, but he left the last one up and it felt really good to hammer that ball," Rooney said. "Putting up that five-spot required a team effort and Sever's triple and Cody's (Yount) RBI single were just as clutch as was the pitching and defense."
Sever led off the fifth with his second three-bagger of the year, which was followed by Silverstein (Bell Canyon, Calif./Calabasas HS) reaching on a third-strike wild pitch and Yount (Paradise Valley, Ariz./Chaparral HS) providing a run-scoring single that broke a scoreless tie. Freshman Vincej (Saugus, Calif./Saugus HS) then came up looking to advance the runners via sacrifice but instead loaded the bases with a perfectly dropped bunt single.
Sophomore Brian Humphries (El Cajon, Calif./Granite Hills HS) made it a 2-0 game with a high-chopper that just cleared the glove of Haar at first base, and Rooney put the game out of reach with his 14th double of the year.
The win raised Pepperdine's overall and conference records to 21-27 and 9-7, while first-place San Diego dropped to 31-18 and 15-1. The Waves had not defeated the Toreros since the first game of their 2008 regular-season series - a seven-game losing streak that included a sweep last year at Cunningham Stadium.
"Everyone in the clubhouse is super pumped to have beaten USD," Rooney said. "It's been a long time since we've won a game against them."
For Bywater, the victory evened his season record to 5-5 and lowered his earned-run average to 2.29, but he nearly came undone in the sixth before receiving a one-on-one pep talk on the mound from head coach Steve Rodriguez. Bywater allowed consecutive singles to start the inning and then really got flustered after a balk moved both runners into scoring position; that's when the head coach stepped out of the dugout.
"I was wild at the start," Bywater said. "I wasn't attacking as much and was throwing and not pitching. But Rod's visit got me back in the game and pumped up, and everything started to click. He said the guys had been working hard for me and I had to start working hard for them."
Bywater responded in storybook fashion, first striking out clean up batter Tony Strazzara on a called strike three and then getting Nick McCoy to go down swinging before Zach Kometani grounded out to end the threat.
In the eighth, Silverstein recorded his first career outfield assist as he threw out Chris Engell at second base from the gap in left-center field. Engell's hit looked worthy of extra bases, but Silverstein cut the ball off seamlessly and made a direct throw that beat the Torero's third baseman by a half step. San Diego head coach Rich Hill argued the call to no avail.
USD attempted one more rally in the ninth, but Pepperdine's third double play of the game accounted for the first two outs and then Bywater got Austin Green to fly out to right and end the game. Bywater finished with 114 pitches, 70 of which were called strikes.
Pepperdine and San Diego play game two of their three-game series Saturday at 1 p.m. Redshirt sophomore Cole Cook (Los Angeles, Calif./Palisades Charter HS) will look to duplicate Bywater's effort and give the Waves their first series win over the Toreros since 2006.
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Pepperdine 5, San Diego 0 (May 21, 2010 at Malibu, Calif.)