Both Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount have both been strong defensively and are among the top West Coast Conference teams, despite having to rely on a pair of freshmen shortstops.
But rather than being bothered by being thrust into the fire, Manny Jefferson and David Fletcher have thrived under the pressures of being regular starters for regional contenders just a season removed from high school ball. Both players made major contributions with the glove on Tuesday.
That plus more in a roundup of Tuesday’s Southern California college baseball action along with photo galleries from Northridge and LMU:
Loyola Marymount 7, UC Irvine 2
Loyola Marymount (23-14) was all or nothing on Tuesday. The Lions had 12 strikeouts, but also had 13 hits, including two doubles and four triples. Tanner Donnels knocked a pair of triples and drove in two runs while Tommy Cheek was 3-for-4 with three runs and three RBI.
With the game still close at 3-0 in the seventh inning, Cheek opened things up with a big two-run single to left field. He talks about that at bat and embracing the RBI mentality along with Donnels. (Also, note the jokesters in the background):
For Irvine, Tuesday’s loss was a continuation of recent mid-week struggles. After winning their first two mid-week games this week, the ‘Eaters have lost five of six. They managed only six hits against the Lions and have struggled to find the right combination of pitching. Mitch Merten got his second straight mid-week start and was hit around again, giving up six hits and three runs in three innings.
Anteaters head coach Mike Gillespie talks about the team’s mid-week woes. He joked he wishes they could just cancel the rest of them:
In contrast, LMU got strong pitching from Brenton Arriaga, who allowed just three hits in five innings, and the bullpen. The bullpen’s development throughout the season is one of the main reasons Loyola Marymount has gone 21-7 since starting the season 2-7.
Head coach Jason Gill talks about that development, the defensive effort of David Fletcher and the role of Cheek and Donnels in the middle of the lineup:
And here’s a look at that play by Fletcher ranging up the middle, whirling and firing with barely even a glance to first:
You can also take a gander at CBD photographer Shotgun Spratling’s top photos from the game:
San Diego State 6, UC Riverside 5
San Diego State (26-11) jumped out to a 6-0 lead through five innings, but UC Riverside (14-18) battled back with a run in the sixth and trimmed the lead to 6-5 in the seventh inning when Nick Vilter blasted a three-run homer. It was Vilter’s Big-West-leading ninth of the season, but first in over a month since hitting a ball off the top of the wall against West Virginia on March 8.
Things got really interesting in the ninth inning when a walk and a two-base error on Evan Potter allowed the tying and go-ahead runs for UCR to reach scoring position.
But flamethrowing closer Michael Cederoth gave Potter another chance, inducing another grounder to short for the final out of the game. Cederoth collected his 13th save of the season — second best in the nation. Cody Thompson improved to 5-2 after not allowing a run (2 H, 3 BB, 4 K) in 5.1 innings.
Brad Haynal had two hits, including a two-run homer in the fifth inning, for San Diego State. The Aztecs also saw the first production from Ryan Muno, who had his first two hits since being sidelined with a concussion on March 2.
Pepperdine 9, Cal State Northridge 5
Jackson McClleland was forced to be scratched from his weekend start with St. Mary’s due to a stiff back. He was pushed back to the mid-week contest at Cal State Northridge where he again faced stiffness, but this time from the wind. A strong breeze that was swirling out to left field made for some difficult plays on normally routine pop ups and flyballs.
The wind also accounted for a pair of home runs that sailed out of the ballpark on high fly balls that likely wouldn’t have even made it to the warning track on a windless day. But the game-changing play may have come on hard-hit grounder up the middle in the second inning.
With a pair of runners in scoring position and two outs, William Colantono stung one that looked destined for a two-run single to give Northridge (13-23) a lead, but instead, Manny Jefferson produced a full-extension dive to snag the ball and quickly popped to his feet, firing to first to nab Colantano by a step.
After Aaron Brown put Pepperdine (28-8) ahead 2-0 with a long fly that drifted out in the fourth inning, Northridge showed the difference between a team nearing 30 wins to a team now 10 games below .500.
A three-base error put a runner on third to lead off the inning, but instead of capitalizing on the mistake, Nick Murphy was cut down at the plate on a chopper to third base on a poor baserunning gaffe.
In contrast, Pepperdine immediately put the game out of reach scoring four runs in the next half inning. Hutton Moyer hit an RBI double; Brown laced a two-run double to right field and Brad Anderson knocked an RBI single.
The Matadors continued to fight, trimming Pepperdine’s lead to 8-5 in the eighth inning on a Brett Balkan RBI single. But the next batter, Colantano, hit a hard chopper up the middle that reliever Chandler Blanchard happened to hip check right to Manny Jefferson to start an inning-ending 1-6-4-3 double play. And as good teams are apt to do, the Waves answered with an insurance run after escaping the jam.
Moyer finished 4-for-4 with two runs scored, two doubles, a triple and an RBI. His two doubles gave him 19 on the season, retaking the national lead in doubles from SDSU’s Ty France. Brown went 2-for-5 with a double and a homer. He drove in three runs. Anderson added three hits and an RBI for the Waves while Pak led Northridge with three hits and an RBI. Murphy hit his first homer of the year.
Check out CBD photographer David Cohen’s top photos from the game :
#6 Cal Poly 9, Bakersfield 1
Justin Calomeni produced the longest outing of his young career, scattering seven hits and a run over eight innings to give Cal Poly (31-5) an easy victory over CSU Bakersfield (14-20).
The Mustangs jumped on Bakersfield starter Alec Daily for six runs in three innings and never looked back. Brian Mundell drove in four runs despite having only one official at bat (1-1, BB, 2 SF). His two sacrifice flies give him 10 for the season, tying him for the national lead with LMU’s Tommy Cheek. Zack Zehner added three hits and Brett Barbier was 2-for-5 with two runs and two RBI.