MALIBU, CA — Scott Frazier showed why he is one of the top sophomore prospects Saturday afternoon at Eddy D. Field Stadium. Frazier dominated No. 19 Oklahoma to help Pepperdine knock off the Sooners 10-0.
Frazier pitched seven scoreless innings for the Waves (1-1). He scattered five hits and struck out six while only walking one. Frazier fared much better than his counterpart Jonathan Gray, also considered one of the top sophomore pitching prospects. Gray allowed only two hits, but lasted only 2 2/3 innings for Oklahoma (1-1). He struggled mightily with his control walking six batters, mainly because he couldn’t command his fastball.
Pepperdine’s offense took advantage of Gray’s wild streak with a run in the third and then added three runs the following inning. From there, they slowly pulled away. Joe Sever and Aaron Brown both had a strong day at the plate, combining for five hits and five RBI.
The two teams will meet back at Eddy D. Field Stadium at 11 AM (PST) on Sunday for the rubber match.
5 Things to Take Away
1. Meat and potatoes – The first thing I noticed when I got to Eddy D. Field Stadium today was the difference in body type between the two squads. Pepperdine’s No. 3 hitter, Joe Sever, is 6-foot, 205 pounds. Tony Cooper, the Waves’ clean-up hitter, is a minuscule 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds. By comparison, Oklahoma’s roster is stocked full of big bodies. Even the guys with smaller height and weight numbers, like Evan Mistich at 5-foot-11, 210 pounds, look like they can barely move in their uniforms. It definitely looks like these boys had their share of meat and potatoes growing up.
2. Scott Frazier is back – Frazier only pitched 18 innings last season due to “arm tenderness.” Pepperdine coach Steve Rodriguez explained after the game that Frazier’s forearm would tighten up when throwing, and Rodriguez wasn’t willing to risk the 6-foot-6 righty’s future for the possibility of a few more wins last year.
“I was looking to make a big impact last year and couldn’t do that,” Frazier said. “It was really frustrating. This year I’m really excited to help the team out as much as I can and make a big impact.”
But on Saturday, Frazier showed why he’s considered one of the top 25 prospects in the sophomore class. He consistently spotted his fastball at 91-93 mph and broke off a pair of breaking balls around 80 mph.
“It was huge for us to get that win,” he said. “It puts you right back in the series and tomorrow hopefully we can get that W.”
3. Sophomore showdown/sophomore fizzle – Frazier was supposed to be in a pitcher’s duel Saturday. But the scouts that lined a row of seats in front of the press box had little reason to stay much longer than the fifth or sixth inning. Frazier was cruising along and his counterpart Jonathan Gray struggled to even throw strikes.
The 6-foot-4, 239 pounder, making his Oklahoma debut, is also considered one of the top 25 prospects in the sophomore class. But his pitch count skyrocketed and he only lasted 2 2/3 innings. It was telling, however, that even though he walked six batters in his short outing, he allowed only one run. He was able to pitch out of jams in both the first and second innings and reliever Ty Taylor got a strikeout to end the third inning without any additional damage.
Oklahoma coach Sunny Golloway said he hopes this motivates Gray: “I told him, ‘There’s your challenge. Both of you guys are high-projected sophomores, potential high draft picks next year and [Frazier’s] way ahead of you right now.’”
4. A different game? - After the game, Golloway was left to ponder how different the game may have been had a play gone the Sooners way in the fourth inning. Pepperdine led 1-0 and had runners on second and third with two outs.
Cooper grounded a ball to first base that Max White fielded and flipped to Taylor covering first base. But Taylor hesitated off the mound and had to rush to try to catch the ball and tag the base in the following stride. The umpire ruled that Taylor missed the bag, giving Cooper an infield single and not one RBI, but two. Sever never slowed down coming around third base and scored from second without a throw. Cooper also went on to score in the inning after a balk and a single.
“That play really changed the complex of the game. I’d like to play that game going into the fifth with it 1-0,” Golloway said. “It’d be a different situation. At 4-0, it takes away the hit and run, the bunt and the steal. At 1-0, everything’s in play still.”
5. Aaron Brown will be a star – Brown was drafted in the 17th round coming out of high school by the Pittsburgh Pirates, but decided to honor his commitment to Pepperdine instead. Rodriguez is surely happy he did. Brown already has shown flashes of being a five-tool player. He showed his athleticism in the outfield, making a couple of nice catches on the run, including catching one on the warning track right before he ricochetted off the wall.
Brown went 1-for-3 in his debut Friday with an RBI. He followed that with a 3-for-5, 3 RBI performance Saturday. His RBI double in the sixth inning one-hopped the fence in right field and really pushed the game out of Oklahoma’s reach.
His coach loves the way Brown plays the game every day.
“It’s always better to have to tell a guy to turn down the enthusiasm rather than trying to get them to turn it up,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez also said he was excited to get Brown on the mound where he will serve as part-time closer — a spot the Waves really struggled last season, blowing 14 saves last year, according to Rodriguez. Brown was looked at by some scouts purely to be a pitcher. Rodriguez said he throws low 90s from the left side and has a good, hard slider.