Waves Remain Alive in Long Beach Regional With 2-1 Win Over Rhode Island Saturday

June 4, 2005

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Long Beach, Calif. - Sophomore left fielder Luke Salas' slow ground ball out to first base scored Patrick Rooney with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning to help Pepperdine remain alive in the Long Beach Regional with a 2-1 victory over Rhode Island in an elimination game Saturday afternoon at Blair Field.

The Waves (39-22) will meet host Long Beach State Sunday at 1 p.m. The 49ers fell 6-4 to USC Saturday night.

In a game that was dominated by the two starters, it was a pair catcher's interference calls that helped Pepperdine post the come-from-behind victory.

With the scored tied 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning, senior Patrick Rooney singled off Rhode Island reliever Tom Venedam and Adrian Ortiz reached base on a catcher's interference call against Rams' catcher Josh Nestor.

Junior David Uribes then followed with a ground ball single that found its way through the left side of the infield to load the bases.

Venedam was then replaced by left-hander Adam Perkins to face the left-handed hitting Salas. The Waves junior left fielder hit the first pitch he saw toward first base that Scott Brown fielded and stepped on the bag for the second out of the inning as Rooney scored the winning run.

The Waves were able to mount the comeback due to the outstanding pitching of senior right hander Kea Kometani and the clutch relief work of senior Steve Kleen (4-3).

Kometani, who entered the game with a 10-5 record, kept Pepperdine in the game by pitching eight innings, allowing five hits, one run, two walks and equaling a career-high with 10 strikeouts.

After allowing a run in the first inning, Kometani pitched out of difficulty in six of his eight innings of work as the Rams had a runner aboard in all but the second and fifth innings.

The senior right hander was replaced by Kleen with a runner at second and one out in the ninth inning after issuing a leadoff walk.

Kleen came in and struck out Daryl Holcomb and induced Matt Sullivan to hit a soft liner to right field for the final out of the inning.

Kometani exited the game after throwing 127 pitches and working through three Pepperdine errors.

"It wasn't a hard decision," head coach Steve Rodriguez said in pulling Kometani from the game. "It was a frustrating one. We couldn't seem to get the key hit or put the ball in play when we need to. "You have a guy who gives you eight-plus innings and you can't find a way to him some runs," Rodriguez continued. "If that was going to be his last college game, it was going to end on a good note."

Pepperdine need Kometani's stout effort because the Waves managed just seven hits and were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position against Rhode Island starter Zack Zuercher.

Zuercher worked out of a second and third, one-out jam in the third by recording a pair of strikeouts and escaped a second and third, two-out situation in the seventh by registering his fourth strikeout of the contest.

In his eight innings of work, Zuercher scattered seven hits, allowed one unearned run, walk two and struck out four.

Rhode Island (34-21) scored a run in the first inning when Kometani hit Wayne Russo with the bases loaded to force home a run.

The Waves finally broke through against Zuercher in the sixth inning as they scored an unearned run to tie the game.

With one out, Tracy reached on catcher's interference, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a two-out single to right field by Danny Worth.

Pepperdine threatened in the seventh as Adrian Ortiz tripled into the right field corner with two outs and David Uribes was intentionally walked and stole second to put runners at second and third.

Zuercher escaped the jam by striking out Salas.

The Waves suffered more frustration in the eighth when Tracy opened the inning with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice. He was left stranded there after Worth lined out to right field and Nick Kliebert grounded to short.

NOTES: Kea Kometani's 10 strikeouts pushed his career total to 237 and moved him past Mike Scott (1974-76) and into eighth place on Pepperdine's all-time strikeout list...Kometani's 8.1 innings pitched also moved him into sole possession of fifth place on the school's all-time innings pitched list...Saturday's win over Rhode Island marked the seventh time in their last eight regionals that the Waves have one at least game...Pepperdine went 2-2 at last year's Cal State Fullerton regional and advanced to the championship game.



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