Two-way players are becoming more and more rare in the college baseball game, but their value has never been higher with the 11.7 scholarship limit. In Southern California, there have been a number of two-way studs, including Michael Lorenzen last year with Cal State Fullerton.
This year, Pepperdine’s Aaron Brown and San Diego’s Louie Lechich have been dynamic Sunday starters when they aren’t roaming the plains in centerfield and hitting bombs in the middle of their respective teams’ lineups. But who would come out on top when the two duo players faced off with each other? See who helped their squad win the big series rubber match in Malibu.
That plus rubber matches at San Diego State, Cal Poly, USC and Cal State Fullerton. Find out how things shook out on Sunday in Southern California. This Sunday Mother’s Day edition of the roundup includes video of a Gatorade/water bucket shower during an interview and a photo gallery from Santa Barbara.
#27 Pepperdine 3, San Diego 0
In a battle of two of the most dynamic two-way players in the country, Pepperdine’s Aaron Brown outshined Louie Lechich of San Diego.
Brown had his most impressive performance of the season, pitching a two-hit shutout against one of the top offenses in the country. He struck out seven Toreros to improve to 10-1 on the season. Despite a good outing, Lechich took the loss: 7.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R (2 ER), 3 BB, 2 K.
Brown got the Waves (34-14, 17-7) on the board in the first inning with an RBI single and a second run scored on an error. Chris Fornaci delivered a pinch hit RBI single in the seventh inning to give Brown some extra cushion.
With the win, Pepperdine has a 1.5 game lead heading into the final weekend of West Coast Conference regular season play. The Waves can assure themselves at least a share of the regular season title with a one win next weekend at Gonzaga. With next weekend off, San Diego must sit at home and watch, hoping it finishes in the top four and gets an opportunity to play in the WCC Tournament the following weekend.
San Diego State 3, UNLV 2
San Diego State (35-17, 15-12) got a huge outing from junior lefty Mike Robards to steal the series from UNLV after dropping the Friday opener. Robards allowed two unearned runs on six hits in 7.1 innings before turning it over to Michael Cederoth, who allowed just one hit in 1.2 innings to collect his 19th save of the season.
UNLV (30-20, 17-10) tied the game 2-2 in the sixth inning on a bases loaded wild pitch, but Robards struck out Joey Swanner looking to end the threat and the SDSU offense picked up their pitcher. Tim Zier doubled and came around to score on Seby Zavala’s RBI groundout.
More to come from this game tomorrow, but for now here’s Robards getting showed by the Gatorade/water bucket (0:30 mark) and talking about his big win:
#6 Cal Poly 10, #25 UC Irvine 3
Cal Poly (41-10, 16-5) scored two runs in the first inning and then two runs in the second inning and then two runs in each of the next three innings as well. The Mustangs built up a 10-0 lead before Irvine (34-15, 15-3) ever got multiple baserunners in an inning. Casey Bloomquist ran his record to 11-1 this season, pitching six innings and allowing two runs on five hits.
Cal Poly had 16 hits. Nick Torres ended a 36-game homerless streak, knocking a two-run shot to cap Cal Poly’s scoring. He finished 3-for-5 with two runs and three RBI. Chris Hoo was 3-for-5 with a triple & two RBI while Zack Zehner was 2-for-4 with a triple & two RBI.
UC Irvine still holds a slim half-game lead in the Big West standings. The ‘Eaters still have two series remaining while Cal Poly only has a trip to middling Cal State Northridge remaining.
#1 Oregon State 11, UCLA 2
No. 1 Oregon State busted open a 2-2 tie with nine runs in its final two at bats. Michael Conforto led the Beavers’ attack with two homers and five RBI, but he wasn’t the only one doing damage. Oregon State (38-8, 20-4) it four homers on the afternoon.
Leadoff hitter Jeff Hendrix got one, going 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBI and Dylan Davis followed Conforto’s lead going back-to-back with the big bopper in the eighth inning. UCLA (23-25-1, 10-14) takes the sweep and is in danger of finishing below .500 with seven games remaining — all against ranked opponents.
UC Riverside 8, Cal State Fullerton 7 (11 innings)
Thanks to a Drake Zarate grand slam, UC Riverside (22-24, 10-8) opened up a 5-0 lead in the first inning, but Cal State Fullerton (25-22, 9-9) battled back to send the game into extras. The Titans scored a pair of runs in the ninth inning with Greg Velazquez doubling home a run and scoring on a squeeze bunt to tie the game.
In the next inning, both teams had opportunities. Left fielder Austin Diemer hosed a runner at the plate to end UC Riverside’s half of the inning. The Titans then left the bases loaded when Velazquez grounded out to third. The 11th inning proved to be different as the Highlanders capitalized when Zarate stayed with an outside curveball and lined it into left field for an RBI single that proved to be the game winner.
The two teams combined for 28 hits. Zarate finished 3-for-5 with five RBI while teammate Thomas Walker was 4-for-5 with two runs and an RBI. For Fullerton, Matt Chapman was 3-for-4 with two runs, a double and two RBI. Clay Williamson, J.D. Davis and Diemer were each 2-for-4.
Cal 4, USC 1
USC may have seen their postseason dreams disappear with a series loss to Cal (21-25, 9-15). The Golden Bears scored three runs in the first inning against Bob Wheatley and Ryan Mason did the rest. The 6’6″ sophomore right hander needed just 101 pitches for a complete game against the Trojans (26-22, 14-13). Mason allowed one run on six hits and two walks while striking out three.
USC relievers Kyle Twomey and Kyle Davis pitched four innings each, allowing just five hits and one run. Bobby Stahel was 2-for-3 with the Trojans’ only run. Vince Bruno led Cal, going 3-for-4 with two RBI.
Long Beach State 3, Hawai’i 1
Hawai’i outfielder Adam Hurley hit an RBI double to tie the game 1-1 in the seventh inning, but Long Beach State (26-23, 12-6) immediately responded. Back-to-back walks to lead off the eighth inning turned into a pair of runs whenGarrett Hampson’s sacrifice fly scored Eric Hutting and Colton Vaughn came into score on a wild pitch.
Hawai’i (19-28, 3-15) had no answer in the final two frames as Ryan Millison picked up the win, allowing just one hit and one walk in three innings. The Dirtbags have won eight of their last 10 and are now three games back in Big West play with two weekends remaining.
Cal State Northridge 4, UC Santa Barbara 1
UC Santa Barbara (29-15-1, 9-12) missed a golden opportunity to complete a Big West series sweep and give itself a great opportunity to get back to .500 in conference play next weekend. Instead, Cal State Northridge (18-32, 6-12) scored three runs in the first inning and rode that until the end.
Greg Mahle and Dillon Tate combined for five scoreless innings of relief for the Gauchos, but the offense couldn’t get anything going. Mahle had the team’s only RBI.
Jordan Johnson (3-4) allowed one run on six hits in six innings before turning the ball over to closer Shay Maltese. Maltese faced nine batters and retired them all to collect the three-inning save — his seventh of the season. He struck out four.
Here are CBD photographer David Cohen’s top photos from the game: