MALIBU, Calif. — Pepperdine senior outfielder Chris Amezquita knows how tough it can be to hit a ball out to dead centerfield at Eddy D. Field Stadium. He is the Waves’ top home run hitter, but has seen a number of drives to centerfield quickly run out of steam.
That wasn’t the case on Sunday as Amezquita powered a low-and-away slider over the fence for a three-run homer to help Pepperdine (21-17, 9-6) snap Gonzaga’s 11-game winning streak with a 10-5 victory to keep from being swept by the Bulldogs (26-11-1, 13-5).
Drew Hacker had two hits and four RBI and Ranny Lowe had a pair of RBI infield singles in support of southpaw Aaron Brown, who pitched his first career complete game. Gonzaga was able to manufacture single runs in the first three innings, but Brown settled into a groove in the middle innings. He allowed six hits and only two earned runs as he won his fifth consecutive decision.
The Game Changer:
Pepperdine scored only three combined runs in losses Friday and Saturday. After Gonzaga scored a run in both the first and second innings, the Waves were under pressure, facing a series sweep with a hibernated offense that went down 1-2-3 on five pitches in the first inning.
The Waves needed to make something happen. Sam Meyer led off the second inning with a single. After a strikeout, a hit by pitch and a fielder’s choice, Ranny Lowe came to the plate with runners on the corners with two outs. He chopped a ball to the left side. Shortstop Steven Halcomb charged the ball and made an off-balance throw across his throw. Lowe legged down the line and stepped on the bag just before Halcomb’s throw hit first baseman Marco Gonzales’ glove.
The #RannyBeingRanny play (as his teammates often reference his exploits) got Pepperdine on the scoreboard and kept the inning alive. Drew Hacker followed with an RBI single and the game was tied.
An inning later, Lowe provided another #RannyBeingRanny moment. After Gonzaga pushed a run across, Pepperdine loaded the bases with two outs and tied the game on a Devin Carter single. His hard line drive only allowed one run to score so Lowe came to bat with the bases still juiced.
On a 2-1 pitch, Lowe “crushed” a pitch all of 10-15 feet down the third base line. Meyer ran around Gonzaga catcher Travis Forbes as he ran and slid after the ball. Forbes barehanded the dribbler and immediately popped to his feet, firing to first. However, Lowe’s speed was too much as he beat it out for his second RBI infield single. Hacker again followed with an RBI, this time on a bases loaded hit by pitch that put the Waves ahead 5-3.
Pepperdine redshirt sophomore Aaron Brown discusses his first career complete game, his health and what the Waves need to do to make the West Coast Conference tournament:
Gonzaga head coach Mark Machtolf talks about the Bulldogs’ big series win at Pepperdine, their stellar starting pitching and continuing their success for the remainder of the conference season:
Pepperdine senior outfielder Chris Amezquita talks about his big day at the plate and the importance of salvaging a game against Gonzaga:
- Jimmy Sinatro - 2-for-2, R, 2B
- Chris Amezquita - 2-for-3, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB
- Drew Hacker - 2-for-3, 4 RBI, HBP
- Aaron Brown - 9 IP, 6 H, 4 R (2 ER), BB, 5 K
The Bottom Line:
Both of these teams remain firmly in contention for the both stages of the postseason, though Pepperdine’s hopes for a potential at-large bid took a knock with the series loss against Gonzaga. The Waves need to finish strong down the stretch to have a shot there. More immediate for both teams is getting into the four-team West Coast Conference Tournament.
With Pepperdine’s win Sunday and Loyola Marymount’s series win at San Francisco, there is now a four-way tie for second place. Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount, San Francisco and San Diego all sit 2.5 games back of Gonzaga with each team having two or three conference series remaining. The Bulldogs are sitting in the catbird seat with only series against BYU and at cellar-dwelling Santa Clara remaining.
Following a week-long break for finals and graduation, Pepperdine finishes the conference season with series at San Francisco and Portland and with a home set against St. Mary’s. With one of the tougher remaining schedules in the WCC, Sunday’s win looms even larger for the Waves. They’ve given themselves a chance to rely solely on themselves down the stretch. As of right now, Pepperdine controls its own destiny (as do each of the five teams in contention for the four WCC Tournament spots).
The Waves will rely on their weekend trio of Scott Frazier, Corey Miller and Aaron Brown. Pepperdine’s starting rotation has been stellar the last three weekends, compiling a 2.43 ERA. Brown has really come into his own, living up to the hype that has surrounded him the last two years. He has won his last five decisions, including his last four starts. Against Washington, San Diego and Gonzaga in his last three outings, Brown has only allowed four earned runs in 23 2/3 innings (1.52 ERA).
Also check out the 18-shot photo gallery from Sunday’s sunshine-berated matchup.