The Pepperdine Waves had a banner day in the win over rival LMU.

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D1 Digest: Yet Another Wild Friday In College Baseball

Roundup

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This was a day of historic streaks being busted, stunning upsets being hoisted and forehead-slapping football scores being posted. You can tell it’s getting near May Madness, with some of the crazy results we saw on this lidlifter Friday in college baseball. 

I spent my afternoon up the coast in Malibu taking in Pepperdine’s 2-0 shutout of PCH-Cup rival LMU. (In case you don’t know “PCH” stands for Pacific Coast Highway). But before I get to what I saw at Eddy D. Field Stadium, I have been commissioned by those fine boys at D1Baseball.com to do today’s D1 Digest. (clap hands, rub them together) So let’s take a swing around the country and see the goods and bads from the day before we talk about Pepperdine’s big win. 

Here we go, three-up, three-down style as I like to do…

THREE UP

The best of the day in college baseball

1- Team Of The Day: Mississippi State. 
Gah! The biggest football score of the weekend has to be the most surprising and the most impressive and most eye-popping, etc., etc. The Bulldog-on-Bulldog crime saw the Maroon version pound out 19 hits and get awarded 13 walks to help make up the 19 runs scored. The MSU Bulldogs smacked the UGa. pitchers around for seven doubles and a home run along the way. Jordan Westburg had three RBI, Tanner Allen had four RBI and Justin Foscue racked up three doubles on a 3-for-4 night. It was stat-padding for everybody in the MSU 1-through-9. Also, MSU’s Friday ace Ethan Small was up to his usual tricks, collecting 11 strike outs in his 6.0 innings of work. 

This was a huge win for the Bulldog confidence, considering they were skunked in three straight games at Arkansas last weekend. Oh, and Jake Mangum got three hits on the night so he is now just one hit behind LSU’s Eddie Furniss’ SEC record of 352 career hits. Stay tuned tomorrow for an update on that. 

2- Alex Binelas rides his cycle
In Louisville’s 32-1 sugar blasting of Alabama A&M, you KNEW there would be a ridiculous stat or two that came out of this one, right? Well that honor goes to the Cardinals freshman third baseman, who hit for the cycle in the big win. Binelas singled in the first, homered in the second, doubled in the third and tripled in the eighth to complete the cycle. He also had RBI in each of the first four innings to help get the onslaught rolling. 

It was the sixth cycle in program history and the first cycle for the ‘Ville since James McAuley pulled the trick against Charlotte in May of 1998. This was also the second-most runs scored in a single game in UofL history. 

3- Jacob Nesbit goes OFF.
Arkansas went nuts on Tennessee’s SEC-leading pitching staff, notching 16 hits and outscoring the Vols 11-9. The Hogs took control of the back-and-forth donnybrook with a three-run fifth inning thanks to Jacob Nesbitt’s three-run homer, and a four-run sixth inning, which included a Trevor Ezell home run and Nesbitt’s two-run double down the left field line. Nesbitt had quite the game at the plate, going 3-for-3 with six RBI and was a triple short of hitting for the cycle. I caught Nesbit when the Razorbacks played at USC and I came away really impressed with the freshman’s glove work on the hot corner. 

HONORABLE MENTIONS
– An Inside-The-Park Home Run
You know how they say TD Ameritrade Park is such a big park? Well Xavier’s Allbry Major just proved it. Or maybe he proved how freakin’ fast his feet are because he sprinted around the bases for an inside-the-park jobbie tonight against my Creighton Bluejays. Here is a clip of the feat… 

I’m sure Ed Servais read his fielders the riot act after their apparent causal way of getting the ball back into the infield on this play. Damn, and the Jays had an RPI ranking of No. 13 coming into the day too. Ack!

– Big Win for the Gophers. 
Minnesota has been on the cusp of greatness all season but a murderous schedule and a ton of close losses has vexed them all year long. Today, the Gophers picked up a really big 7-3 road win at RPI No. 24 Indiana. Overcoming a 3-1 deficit the Gophers got a two-run triple from Easton Bertrand and a three-run triple from Drew Hmielewsi to race past the Hoosiers in the opening game on their three-game series. Starting pitcher Max Meyer got 12 strikeouts in a dominating 7.0 inning performance.

Starting the day way down at No. 81 in the RPI means this won’t catapult them into at-large range or anything, but it’s a start. Remember their big spree at the end of last season which resulted in a home Regional? 

– Adley Rutschman, again.
Mr. Everybody’s All American hit a seventh-inning grand slam for Oregon State tonight to help the Beavers bum-rush Washington State 18-4 in Corvallis. It was Adley’s 14th home run of the season and helped punctuate a nine-run seventh inning that helped not only close the door in this series opener, but also broke the Beavers modest two-game losing streak they suffered after back-to-back extra inning losses at Nevada in the midweek. The 18 runs was the most the Beavers have scored in a Pac 12 game since 2008 when they beat Wazzu 19-9 in Pullman.

– Ole Miss deep-sixes Aggies with six-run sixth.
This has been a painful trip to Oxford for Texas A&M. A day after a jog-off win in the bottom of the eleventh inning, the Rebels deep-six’d the Aggies with a six-run sixth inning and a six-run seventh inning in a 13-3 football-score victory. Freshman flinger Doug Nikhazy threw 7.0 innings of four-hit ball and also struck out a career-high 10 Aggie batters. The biggest stat of the night? Nikhazy didn’t issue a single walk. Although the Rebels struck out 11 times at the hand of A&M ace Asa Lacy, they did pock-mark him for three runs on five hits and three walks to hand him his third loss of the season. Third baseman Tyler Keenan hit his 11th home run of the season and led the Rebs with three RBI. 

– Ryan Garcia becoming a breakout star at UCLA. 
At the beginning of this 2019 season, Garcia was on the sidelines nursing a back injury and didn’t make his first appearance on the mound until early March. After being eased into regular duty it’s safe to say now that he is on freakin’ fire. Last time I saw him he was throwing a complete-game four-hitter with 13 Ks vs East Carolina. Tonight he followed that up with a complete-game two-hitter and a career-high 14 Ks in a 5-0 skunking of Utah. It was the first 14 strikeout performance by a Bruin pitcher since Trevor Bauer in 2011. Garcia has now strung together four straight nine-plus strikeout performances. 


THREE DOWN

The worst of the day in college baseball

1- Missouri State implodes.
It’s been a dog of a season for the Bears, who are usually challenging for a home Regional, if not an NCAA at-large bid. But this year has been a little bit of a bust as they’ve limped out to an unBear-like 13-28 start. And today, that bust went into full-fledged BURST. The Bears took a 9-6 lead into the ninth inning against Bradley, but for the first time in 163 consecutive games when they’ve had a lead after eight innings, they lost. 

The Braves answered with four runs in the ninth inning to claim an unlikely 10-9 win. The go-ahead runs were produced by BU’s Luke Shadid, who notched a two-run single in the top of the ninth. The last time the Braves had won at MSU was back in 2007, a streak that had reached 15 straight games at Hammons Field. 

2- No Emerson Hancock? Now THAT’s a problem
The Georgia Bulldog ace who leads the SEC with a 1.04 ERA sat out this week to give his arm a rest. Holy Toledo did the Mississippi State Bulldogs take advantage. As mentioned above the MSU Bulldogs pasted the Georgia Bulldogs by a ridiculous 19-3 spread thanks to an offense that racked up 19 hits and 13 walks. Normal Saturday starter C.J. Smith was given the starting assignment in place of Hancock and couldn’t find the strike zone. Smith ended up going 4.2 innings and gave up eight of those 13 walks to go along with eight hits and eight runs to take the loss. 

3- The most painful losses on the day.
On Friday morning my Off The Top Of My Head column included a section that featured five teams that were hoping for a rainout due to the fact that they were playing RPI-killing teams this weekend. Of the five, two of them actually lost games to low-RPI teams. 

UC Santa Barbara lost at UC Riverside, 9-4. That’s the No. 8-ranked Gauchos losing a game to the No. 207-ranked Highlanders. The Gauchos drop to 8-2 in the Big West, now a full game behind first place Cal Poly. Oh, and Ben Brecht suffered his first loss of the season, giving up seven runs on eight hits in 4.0 innings. Ouch. UCSB only dropped two spots in the RPI overnight, but watch out.

North Carolina State dropped a 5-4 decision at Notre Dame to keep their skid going, now dropping eight of their last 11 games. The No. 25-RPI ranked Wolfpack lost to the No. 111-ranked Irish,.


DISHONORABLE MENTIONS

– TCU continues to struggle
The Horned Frogs dropped a 6-3 decision to No. 21 Baylor despite the fact that they out-hit the Bears (10-8) and had former first round draftee Nick Lodolo on the mound. But the Horned Frogs also committed five errors on the night (which helped lead to three unearned runs for BU) and also stranded 15 baserunners on the base paths. The Purple Gang just could not get the key hit they were looking for. Lodolo finished his 5.2 innings of work by giving up two walks and three hit-batsmen and dropped to 5-4 on the season.

– Hess goes cold again. 
LSU’s normal Friday ace Zack Hess tweaked his back a few weeks ago and missed his start against Florida last weekend. But the Tiger worries were quelled a bit when Hess entered the third game against the Gators and threw a pretty good 2.1 innings, where he was hitting 94-95 on the gun again. Well, those doubts may be creeping up again after last place Alabama rocked him for eight hits and five runs in 4.1 innings tonight to help the Tide to a 6-1 win.  

Kudos also goes to Tide starter Sam Finnerty who went 6.0 innings against that potent LSU lineup and gave up just five hits and one walk, before Chase Lee and Brock Guffey went the final three innings to lock down the W. But Guffey buys the beer round because he gave up an RBI double to Drew Bianco in the ninth inning to account for LSU’s only score.  

– The Clemson ACC losing streak hits eight.
… But this time the Tigers have only themselves to blame because in an 8-7 loss to Georgia Tech they out-hit the Jackets by a whopping 13-to-7. while also issuing nine walks. On top of that, the bottom four of the Tiger batting order when 2-for-15. Clemson has now gone since April 6th since last winning a conference game and sit at 26-17 overall and 11-11 in ACC play after starting out 11-3. 

– Big Wind.
The UT Arlington-Appalachian State game scheduled for Friday night in Boone, North Carolina was postponed to a Saturday doubleheader because gale-forced winds, according to the ASU release. High wind warnings were posted throughout Western North Carolina, so it made sense to push the opening game of this series to Saturday. It’s just the first time I’ve ever heard of high winds causing a game to be cancelled. 

Now on to that game I went to up in Malibu…


WHAT I SAW AT EDDY D. FIELD STADIUM

In a really stellar pitcher’s duel, Pepperdine’s Jonathan Pendergast outlasted LMU’s Codie Paiva and Cory Wills slammed a solo shot home run around the right field foul pole to give the Waves a much-needed win in the WCC ranks.

LINESCORE:
L.M.U. – 000 000 000 – 0  5  1
P’dine – 000 100 01x – 2  7  0

PITCHING
WP: Jonathan Pendergast, 5-2
LP: Codie Paiva, 5-4
Save: None

Jonathan Pendergast, the 2018 West Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year, was his old self today dominating the Lions.

TOP HITTERS.
Lions: 
– Brandon Shearer, 2-for-4, double 

Waves: 
– Cory Wills, 2-for-3, HR, BB
– Joe Camparis, 2-for-4, RBI
– Justin Lutes, 1-for-2, 2BBs

RECORDS:
– LMU, 24-17, 12-7 WCC
– Pepperdine, 18-16, 9-7 WCC

HOW IT WENT DOWN: 
Good night, these two starting pitchers today put on a clinic today along the shores of the Pacific. 

LMU’s Jonathan Pendergast and PU’s Codie Paiva were locked in and throwing bee-bees all day long. In fact, they pitched so well this game lasted a grand total of two-hours, eight-minutes. Yep, 2:08. Can you believe it? Holy smokes, if this would only be emulated each and every game in Omaha in June. THAT would be college baseball nirvana. 

LMU starter Codie Paiva pitched well enough to get the Lions a W today.

Either way, Pendergast pitched just a wee-bit better, allowing just five hits, striking out 10 Lion batters and only once allowing back-to-back batters to record a hit. And he only allowed back-to-back batters to reach base just twice the entire game. Pendergast went three-up, three-down in five frames and four-up, three-down in two others. 

The only inning that the Lions put forth any kind of threat was in the sixth inning, when Brandon Shearer doubled and Trevin Esquerra singled and then stole second. But with one out and those two Lions on second and third, that’s when Pendergast bore down. He got cleanup hitter Steven Chavez to strike out on a high fastball just out of the zone and Tommy Delgado struck out on a cutter in the dirt. 

Pendergast strode off the mound and pounded his glove, knowing he had just withstood his only serious threat in the game. Ironically, that was also the “Waves Strikeout Inning” so the fans were regaled with three t-shirts thrown from the press box due to all three outs in the frame coming via the punch out.  

Meanwhile, LMU’s Paiva went nearly pitch for pitch with Pendergast, giving up a total of six hits, the biggest of which was a solo home run from Cory Wills over the right field wall to give the Waves a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning. A lead it would not give up the entire afternoon. 

Both right-handed pitchers seemed to be a mirror image of the other, throwing 89-90 and working in an occasional curve, or cutter or change up. Paiva only totaled two Ks on the day but did give up four walks. He also seemed to bear down when he needed to as none of those free bases came around to score. The Waves got an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning when Wills singled with one out and a few batters later, with the bases loaded, nine-hole hitter Joe Caparis singled him home, before Justin Lutes came around and got thrown out at the plate to end the inning. 

I got cleated. Pepperdine’s Justin Lutes got his arm stepped on by LMU catcher Cooper Uhl on this eighth-inning tag out at the plate.

And to be honest, Pepperdine really needed this one. Going into today, LMU, BYU, San Francisco and Gonzaga all shared first place in the West Coast Conference with 12-6 marks. Meanwhile the Waves were two games back at 8-7 along with St. Mary’s. A loss would have put them down to .500 in conference play (and overall as well) and gotten them further buried in the standings. Keep in mind the WCC is one of the few sane conferences that has just four teams make the post-season tournament.

Loyola will take a hit in the RPI ranks as the Lions came into the weekend with a No. 68 ranking, while the Waves were No. 57.

PICS
Some additional images from today’s game. 

Cory Wells was all the offense the Waves would need. He gets the heroes’ welcome after slamming his fifth inning home run.

 

Wells also made some Gold Glove-like plays in centerfield, like this diving catch in the seventh inning.

 

Brandon Shearer led the Lions with a pair of hits but had to slide to put on the brakes as he was headed toward home plate with the potential tying run in the sixth inning.

 

YES! Cory Wells heads toward home with the eighth inning insurance run.

 

LMU right fielder Trevin Esquerra can catch anything without even opening his eyes.

 

By the way, aren’t these late 70s Astros knockoffs cool as hell? Nice togs there Pepperdine.

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