After a rough weekend overall last week, the Southern California squads bounced back with four series sweeps and a pair of series wins. Pepperdine took a SoCal West Coast Conference matchup with Loyola Marymount in walk-off fashion and Kris Bryant made a claim for Golden Spikes early frontrunner with a monster weekend against BYU.
We provided you with live updates on Twitter (@SoCal_CBDaily) throughout the weekend, but here’s a recap of all the weekend action:
League play started up and there were two West Coast Conference series that had a flare for the dramatic with walk-off finishes, so we’ll start there:
Loyola Marymount at Pepperdine — In a big West Coast Conference series, Pepperdine’s dramatic ninth inning comeback in Sunday’s finale changed everything. LMU was in line for their first series win since opening weekend, but Kolten Yamaguchi hit a game-tying line drive homer and Drew Hacker singled up the middle three batters later for the walk-off.
Colin Welmon was phenomenal again on Friday for the Lions as he and three relievers combined for a five-hit shutout. Welmon hasn’t allowed an earned run since the very first inning of the season — a 35 1/3 inning streak. On Saturday, Corey Miller pitched a complete game and the Pepperdine offense came alive against Trevor Megill in the fourth inning, scoring seven runs with three big extra base hits: a Sam Meyer leadoff homer and a pair of two-run doubles by Cody Nulph and Chris Amezquita.
San Diego vs. BYU — With Kris Bryant and Dillon Haupt in the middle of the lineup, you can win a lot of games. The country’s best home run hitter and doubles man so far this season provided the Toreros with just enough pop to sweep BYU. In the Thursday opener, it was the Bryant show. He hit three home runs, including a two-run walk-off bomb in the ninth inning. If that wasn’t good enough, he produced another come-from-behind walk-off to clinch the series finale Saturday. After BYU scored to go ahead 9-8 in the top of the 14th, Logan Davis singled and Bryant closed the series out with his fourth bomb of the series — his third to the opposite field. The man tasked with providing Bryant with protection in the lineup, Haupt, carried the team on Friday going three for four with two doubles and two RBI as the Toreros won 5-3.
Pitcher of the Week:
Andrew Thurman (UC Irvine) — Pitching on a foggy Friday night, Irvine ace Andrew Thurman needed only 108 pitches for an 11-strikeout complete game against the Big 10’s Nebraska. The junior made two Irvine runs in the first inning hold up throughout the game. He allowed a run, but lowered his ERA to 1.88 as the run was unearned.
“He was good. He was really, really good. He was borderline great,” head coach Mike Gillespie said after the game.
Honorable Mention: Justin Garza (Fullerton), Colin Welmon (LMU), Corey Miller (Pepperdine), Nick Vander Tuig (UCLA), David Berg (UCLA).
Player of the Week:
Kris Bryant (San Diego) — “Monster. Beast. Fierce. Terrifying. Several other applicable descriptions.” That’s what I said last week about Kris Bryant after he hit five home runs in six games last week. I don’t even know what words should be used to describe Bryant’s weekend against BYU: 5-for-12, six runs, four home runs, eight RBI and five walks
Despite five walks and six runs in three games, Bryant fell to second in both categories nationally, but took control of the home run race, pushing in front of New Mexico’s DJ Peterson with 12 homers now. Bryant trails only Peterson in total bases (69), slugging percentage (.986) and just narrowly in OPS (1.556 to 1.547). He is also third in on base percentage (.561). Basically, with Bryant locked in right now, it’s his world and we’re just all enjoying the show. According to Baseball America’s Aaron Fitt, Bryant is hitting .465 with 11 home runs in his last 13 games.
Honorable Mention: Carlos Lopez (Fullerton), Dillon Haupt (San Diego), Jake Romanski (San Diego State), Jeff McNeil (Long Beach State)
Caught in ‘The Rundown’
#11 UCLA vs. Washington — Friday night starter Adam Plutko allowed the only Washington runs of the series before fog engulfed Jackie Robinson Stadium forcing the game to be suspended. When play resumed Saturday, UCLA tied the game in the eighth inning and finally, after both teams had several opportunities, Christoph Bono knocked a game-winning RBI single in the 15th inning. Later Saturday, Bono also hit a two-run homer in support of Nick Vander Tuig.
After using the bullpen for 11 innings to complete the opening game, Vander Tuig provided the pen with an opportunity to rest, throwing a complete game shutout in a 5-0 win. Grant Watson continued to impress on Sunday throwing six more scoreless innings as the Bruins completed the sweep with a 3-0 victory.
#8 Cal State Fullerton at Oral Roberts — Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…freshmen Thomas Eshelman (6.1 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, K) and Justin Garza (8 IP, 4 H, ER, BB, 9 K) were fantastic and Fullerton continues to win. Koby Gauna, Willie Kuhl and Michael Lorenzen each recorded saves. Carlos Lopez propelled the offense with two hits in each game, including a triple and his first homer of the season. He also scored six runs and stole three bases. Leadoff hitter Richy Pedroza also hit his first career home run.
Long Beach State vs. Wichita State — Long Beach State’s pitching staff shut down a strong hitting Wichita State squad, allowing single runs on Friday and Saturday before pulling out a 5-4 win on Sunday for the sweep. Shane Carle and Jake Stassi produced strong starts, going seven innings and allowing one run each. Jeff McNeil singled four times Friday, knocking in the game-tying and game-winning runs and then reached base three times on Saturday. Michael Hill finished the weekend 5-for-12 with two extra-base hits and four RBI.
UC Irvine vs. Nebraska – The ‘Eaters won a tight series with Nebraska despite scoring only five runs. Andrew Thurman struck out a career-high 11 in a complete game 2-1 win Friday. Matt Whitehouse gave up only two earned runs in seven innings Saturday, but it wasn’t enough. The offense managed only four hits in a 4-1 loss. Dominique Taylor went 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI in Sunday’s 2-0 win. Andrew Morales pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings to pick up his nation-leading sixth win.
San Diego State at Fresno State — Michael Cederoth was outdueled by Tyler Linehan in a 1-0 loss Friday night, but the Aztecs were able to snap a six-game winning streak with an 11-6 win Saturday and won the opening series of conference with a 4-2 victory on Sunday. Jake Romanski had five hits Saturday, but had his 11-game hitting streak come to an end in Sunday’s win.
UC Riverside at Portland — After averaging 11 runs per game in a four-game set with New Mexico last week, the Highlanders were shut down by Portland’s strong pitching staff, scoring only two runs through the first 24 innings of the series. UC Riverside dropped the first two games 4-2 and 2-0 before coming to life late in Sunday’s finale for a 5-1 victory. Trevor Frank picked up his third win with four innings of one-hit, one-walk relief.
USC vs. #16 Oregon – Execution is imperative if you are to win in the Pac-12. With such strong conference foes and a young, learning squad, USC has to execute to win. The Trojans didn’t do that on Friday and Saturday, falling 5-2 and 8-4. On Friday, USC had the bases loaded with no outs in the eighth, but couldn’t get a run as Jake Hernandez hit into a 1-2-3 double play and Kevin Swick struck out to end the threat. Saturday’s loss was even more disconcerting as the Trojans held a 4-2 lead, but gave away the game, letting six runs score on five hits and four errors in the eighth inning. Freshman Kyle Twomey was able to shut down the Ducks in the series finale and the Trojans were able to score a 5-3 win with Nigel Nootbaar bouncing back from Saturday’s implosive eighth inning to pick up the save.