Pepperdine baseball falls in regional title game

The Waves won the first two games of the Malibu Regional, but lost the last two.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

For the third consecutive year, the Pepperdine University baseball season has ended with a loss in the regional title game. The Waves fell to the University of Missouri on Monday, 8-3, in the Malibu Regional at Eddy D. Field Stadium on the Pepperdine campus.

“It’s not fun to get to the final day three years in a row and lose in the championship game,” Pepperdine catcher Chad Tracy said. “But we just have to build on what we have and work on getting past this level.”

The Waves (42-21) were in the driver’s seat coming into the third day of the first regional ever to take place in Malibu. After Friday’s 3-2 win over Missouri and a 6-0 blanking of UCLA on Saturday, Pepperdine went into Sunday undefeated in the double-elimination tournament. The Waves got to rest early in the day as they watched Missouri beat UCLA, 2-1, in a game to decide who would face Pepperdine later in the day.

Then in the battle that followed, the Tigers defeated the Waves in the rematch, 4-1. That set up the winner-take-all title game on Monday.

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“It’s frustrating,” Pepperdine head coach Steve Rodriguez said. “I do believe we’re the better team, but sometimes it’s not the better team that always wins. It’s just the team that gets hot at the right time and we didn’t.”

In a regional that had been dominated by pitching, Missouri put on an offensive display in the final game. After opening the scoring with one run in the third inning, the Tigers had added three more in the next inning. Missouri also put up a four-run seventh inning.

“I think our inability to throw strikes when we had to and the walks hurt us a bit,” Rodriguez said. “They always come back to bite you at some point. We didn’t put ourselves in the best of situations. It’s been a regional based on pitching. Usually pitching and defense win the ballgame, and unfortunately we didn’t have either.

Pepperdine used four pitchers in the title game to try to stop the Tigers’ offensive power. Barry Enright (13-2), who earned the win against Missouri on Friday, started the game for the Waves and was the losing pitcher. He threw 3-1/3 innings, giving up two earned runs on six hits, while striking out one batter and walking another.

“I felt fine,” Enright said. “I came in and the adrenaline was going, it just didn’t end up going my way.”

Three Pepperdine players made the All-Regional team. Shortstop Danny Worth had several good defensive plays in the series and hit .353 in 17 at-bats with one home run. Outfielder Adrian Ortiz hit .400 in 15 at-bats with two runs scored and designated hitter Justin Tellam hit .571 in seven at-bats with one home run and two RBI.

The other members of the All-Regional team were from Missouri with exception to UCLA outfielder Blair Dunlap and UCLA pitcher Hector Ambriz. The most valuable player award went to Missouri second baseman Brock Bond, who hit .563 in 16 at-bats with six runs scored and two RBI.

Pepperdine was rewarded with a regional in Malibu after completing the regular season and the West Coast Conference championship with a 40-19 record and a No. 18 national ranking. With three Southern California schools competing in the regional (UC Irvine also participated), the games were able to attract decent-sized crowds, although none of the games were sellouts. Rodriguez said it was nice to be the host team.

“You can see the success teams have when they do host,” Rodriguez said. “There’s definitely a home-field advantage. We just didn’t get the hits.”

Missouri, which is the first No. 4 seed to win a regional since the four-team regional format began in 1999, moved on to the Super Regional best-of-three series this weekend against Cal State Fullerton. The winner of that series will earn a trip to Omaha for the College World Series.

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https://malibutimes.com
The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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