Ninth Inning Rally Lifts Pepperdine Past Santa Clara 4-1
May 17, 2008
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - A three-run inning by No. 13 Pepperdine (34-17, 13-6 WCC) broke a 1-1 tie in the ninth to give the Waves the win over Santa Clara (33-20, 13-7 WCC). The teams will meet once more tomorrow with the winner advancing to the conference championship against San Diego next weekend.
In a classic pitching dual, Thain Simon started and threw eight strong innings for Santa Clara, allowing just four hits and one run off a solo homerun for a no-decision. Matt Bywater went 6.2 innings and Nick Gaudi went the remaining 2.1 combining to allow only one run. The Broncos stranded 12 runners in the game.
For the second game in a row, the Santa Clara went deep in the first inning. Tommy Medica hit his sixth homerun of the year over the left field fence, a two-out solo shot that gave the Broncos a 1-0 lead. It would stay that way until the fifth inning when Pepperdine's Denny Duron hit a solo homerun of his own over left center to tie the game at 1-1.
Santa Clara threatened in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases with two outs with the cleanup hitter, Ryan Conan, coming up to the plate. Conan hit a shot right up the middle, but the pitcher stuck his glove out and snagged the line drive on the fly to end the inning.
Alex Rivers (3-4) came in to pitch in the top of the ninth and gave up two hits and left runners on second and third with one out for Mark Willinsky who came on in relief. Pepperdine took a 2-1 lead after a single through the right side by Donald Brown. Willinsky walked the next batter to load the bases, struck out the next for the second out of the inning, then allowed a two-run single through the right side that gave Pepperdine a 4-1 lead. Matt Wickswat came in and promptly forced a flyout to end the inning.
Santa Clara made an attempt at a rally themselves in the bottom of the ninth with a leadoff single by Brady Fuerst and a one-out single from Evan LeBlanc, but could not bring either in and the game ended in a 4-1 defeat.
Sunday will have the Broncos' Second Annual Student-Athlete BBQ prior to the game which begins at 1 p.m. Head coach Mark O'Brien will look for his 200th career victory as his Broncos look to continue play into the postseason.