Pepperdine Baseball on Winning Streak

The Pepperdine Waves baseball team has a 20-17 record after winning nine of its last 11 games. The team is currently placed third in the West Coast Conference.

After a slow start to the season, the Pepperdine Waves have had a winning stride on the diamond. 

The Waves baseball team has won nine of its last 11 games, including a three-game sweep over visiting Santa Clara University, a West Coast Conference (WCC) opponent, last weekend. The stretch of wins has pushed Pepperdine’s overall record to 20-17 as of press time. 

One day before the Waves’ April 14 home game against rival USC, Pepperdine head coach Steve Rodriguez said the Waves are a better team now than they were during the beginning of the season. 

“We are finding some really good roles for guys to fill and they are accepting them and playing them really well,” he said. “I think we are playing baseball a lot better than we were at the very beginning.” 

The three wins over the Santa Clara Broncos at Eddy D. Field Stadium showed just that. Pepperdine won each of the games in different fashions. 

On April 10, sophomore catcher Aaron Barnett hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Pepperdine a 3-2 win. In the second game of the series on April 11, after the Broncos gained a 2-0 lead in the second inning, the Waves outscored them. The final score was 6-3. Pepperdine completed the sweep of the Broncos on April 12. The Waves rang up three runs in the first and sixth innings in order to beat the Broncos, 6-2. Redshirt freshman infielder Nick Costello was the star of the game due to his bases-loaded double in the sixth inning. 

On the mound, sophomore pitchers Chandler Blanchard and A.J. Puckett and freshman pitcher Ryan Wilson picked up wins for the Waves. 

Rodriguez said timely hitting and pitching have been some of the keys to Pepperdine’s wins. 

“We have played some really good defense when we have needed to,” he said. “We have made some errors along the way, but, luckily, have not really cost us. We have made plays when we needed to. Just like yesterday, we had two great double plays and our third baseman, Chris Fornaci, made a diving play down the line, which was one of the best plays I have seen all year.”

Pepperdine’s wins are coming after the team started the season with an 11-15 record, which included the squad dropping its first two contests of the season by a combined score of 18-8 to Tulane University.

Although early season play featured two three-game winning streaks, it also featured losses on top of one another. The Waves’ winning ways started with a March 27 win over Portland University, another WCC foe, by a score of 5-1.

Rodriguez said there wasn’t a particular moment when things started to click for the team. 

“They just started realizing once they play the game the way it is supposed to be played, everything else will hopefully just fall into place,” he said. “You can only control certain things in this game and most of them right now are only focusing on what they can control, which is their effort and the techniques and mechanics we are working on.” 

After starting WCC play in early March by losing a three-game series to BYU 1-2, Pepperdine is now 10-5 in conference play and in third place. Pepperdine is two games behind WCC-leading San Diego University.

Rodriguez said anytime is a good time to start putting together strings of wins.

“Once guys feel what it is like to have that kind of success individually or as a team, it is addicting and they want to be able to maintain it,” he said.

Beginning on Friday, Pepperdine plays three games in three days at home. The Waves host WCC-opponent Saint Mary’s College. 

Rodriguez said in order to be successful against the Gaels, the Waves must turn in an all-around performance. 

“We have to put pressure on the defense,” he said. “We have to make sure our pitchers do what they need to do and play great defense from our standpoint.”