Matadors Even Series With 6-2 Win Over Waves

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – No. 8 Pepperdine smacked back-to-back home runs for a second straight day, but that would be the extent of its offense in a 6-2 loss Saturday afternoon at Cal State Northridge. The 3-game opening weekend series between regional rivals is now tied at 1-1 as it heads back to Malibu and Eddy D. Field Stadium for Sunday’s grand finale.

Senior David Harris (Glendora, Calif./Glendora HS) and redshirt junior Ryan Heroy (Henderson, Nev./Green Valley HS) were the ones responsible for increasing Pepperdine’s (1-1) early season home run total to five with their sixth-inning solo shots off Matador starter Ryan Juarez, who had been close to untouchable by that point of the game.

With his lead narrowed to 5-2, Juarez battled back to strike out senior Nate Simon (Duvall, Wash/Redmond HS) for the second out before allowing consecutive singles off the bats of senior Denny Duron (Shreveport, La./Evangel Christian Academy) and freshman Aaron Gates (Villa Park, Calif./Orange Lutheran HS).


Duron stole second with Gates at the plate but was later thrown out at home on the rookie’s roller through the right side. Todd Eskelin scooped up the ball in shallow right and fired a bullet that caught Duron as he was trying to slide under the tag of catcher John Parham.


The Waves weren’t close to scoring again over the last three innings as Matador reliever Billy Ott retired all nine batters he faced in picking up his first save of 2009.


“Our hitters did a decent job with some of the pitching they faced today, but we need to focus on getting better,” said Pepperdine head coach Steve Rodriguez. “Their pitchers came in, competed hard, and threw close to all their pitches for strikes. They made our guys chase some things, controlled our running game a little bit ... all just part of the game.”


By comparison, Pepperdine’s starting pitching was not on par with Northridge’s as sophomore Scott Alexander (Windsor, Calif./Cardinal Newman HS) was tagged for five earned runs through four innings despite allowing just one extra base hit — a harmless two-out double in the fourth by Dominic D’Anna.


Alexander’s overall performance instead was hampered by a trio of walks, wild pitches and hits batsmen, which led to single runs for CSUN (1-1) in the second, third and fifth. He was eventually pulled in favor of sophomore Matt Bywater (Thousand Oaks, Calif./Thousand Oaks) in the fifth after the first three batters reached base.


The two corner baserunners Bywater inherited came around to score following an RBI groundout to first, plus two more walks and a single.


“The starters have to focus on making better pitches because we gave them eight free baserunners in between the walks and the hit by pitches, said Rodriguez. “And we’re throwing pitches clear across the plate where we’re not supposed to.”


Pepperdine found the relief it was looking for in the sixth when redshirt freshman Cole Cook (Los Angeles, Calif./Palisades Charter HS) took the mound and struck out six batters over the last three innings. Cook displayed a devastating slider that forced the Matadors’ leadoff and No. 2 hitters Jeff Pruitt and John Parham to go down swinging both times they faced him.


“The slider was consistently working well, which was good for me because I knew I could go to it on a two-strike count,” Cook said. “I started out real nervous but figured I’d eventually settle down and throw strikes.”


Cook’s lone mistake was an inside pitch that Justin DeMarco muscled down the left-field line just inside fair territory for an RBI double that scored Pineda all the way from first.


“He hit a good pitch and I’m just going to kind of have to live with that one,” Cook said.


“Cook came in and did exactly what we would hope all our pitchers would do and that’s competing in the zone,” added Rodriguez. “If we are going to miss a pitch, make it a quality miss to where it still has a chance to be swung at.”


The Waves and Matadors complete their series 1 p.m. Sunday at Eddy D. Field Stadium. Senior Robert Dickmann (Woodland Hills, Calif./Notre Dame High School) will take the mound opposite lefty Bryan Harper.


Score by Innings                   1    2     3          4    5    6          7    8    9          R    H    E

Pepperdine (1-1)                      0    0     0          0    0    2          0    0    0          2    7    1                 

Cal State Northridge (1-1)         0    1     1          0    3    0          1    0    X          6    8    0           


Pitchers: Pepperdine - ALEXANDER, Scott; BYWATER, Matt (5); COOK, Cole (6).

Cal State Northridge - Juarez; Ott (7).

Win-Juarez (1-0) Save-Ott (1) Loss-ALEXANDER, Scott (0-1) T-2:54 A-452


HR PEP - HARRIS, David; HEROY, Ryan.

Weather: Cloudy, 70


ALEXANDER faced 3 batters in the 5th.



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