Homers Sink Lions in WCC Championship Game
Pepperdine hit three home runs en route to claiming the 2015 WCC Championship.
For the second consecutive year, LMU faced Pepperdine in a winner-take-all WCC Championship Game with a berth into the NCAA Tournament on the line, and for the second straight year, Pepperdine (30-27) defeated the Lions (33-21-1) to advance. Saturday night's contest from Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton, Calif. saw the Waves, playing as the #2 seed in the tournament, earn a 4-2 victory over the fourth-seeded Lions.
Three of Pepperdine's four runs came in via solo home runs. LMU had previously defeated Pepperdine, 4-2, on Friday to advance to the Championship Final.
Matt Gelalich guided the Waves to the victory, making a pair of spectacular grabs defensively and finishing 2-for-4 with a run scored, a homer and two RBI. The home run, his second of the year, broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the fourth and handed Pepperdine a lead it would not relinquish. He later added his second RBI of the night, shooting a two-out RBI-single into shallow left field to bring home Pepperdine's third run of the game in the eighth.
Chandler Blanchard was outstanding in his fourth start of the season, tossing 7.1 innings and allowing just one run on four hits and two walks with four strikeouts. With the victory, Blanchard improved to 3-3.
After LMU surrendered the first run of the game on a Brad Anderson homer in the top of the first, the Lions scratched their first run across in the home half of the frame to get even. Austin Miller led off the bottom of the first with a double before moving to third on a ground ball and coming in to score on a sacrifice fly from Tanner Donnels.
Trailing 3-1 headed into the bottom of the eighth, LMU cut the deficit to one on a two-out RBI-double from Edwards off of Pepperdine closer Max Gamboa, but Donnels was cut down trying to score from first to end the inning and leave the Wave lead at 3-2.
Kolten Yamaguchi wasted no time getting the run back for Pepperdine, blasting his fourth homer of the year over the wall in right field to extend the advantage to 4-2. The home run came off of LMU's closer, J.D. Busfield. The right-hander surrendered the one run on two hits over two innings of work after taking over for junior Michael Silva who was charged with one run over a third of a frame.
Freshman Sean Watkins took the ball for LMU in the Championship Game, throwing the first four innings and allowing two runs on three hits and one walk while striking out three. The native of Pacifica, Calif. was tagged with the loss for the first time in his career, falling to 4-1.
Despite allowing the one run in the eighth, Gamboa closed out the Lions to record his seventh save of the year. The freshman right-hander tossed the final 1.2 innings, allowing two hits and a walk with three strikeouts.
LMU's 33 wins are the most for a Lion team since recording 40 in 2000 (40-19). The Lions have now played for the WCC Championship three times under seventh-year head coach Jason Gill.
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