A.J. Puckett strikes out career high, shuts down Cal Poly in Pepperdine win
MALIBU, Calif. -- Coming off a nine-day break, No. 25 Pepperdine picked up a big non-conference victory, downing No. 4 Cal Poly 11-4 behind a stellar relief appearance from A.J. Puckett and an offensive explosion at the plate.
In what started out as a back-and-forth contest, Puckett entered in the third inning with the Waves up 4-2 and proceeded to shut the Mustangs down for the next five innings, giving up one unearned run and just two hits. At the plate Pepperdine posted 18 hits on the day, scoring seven runs through the first three innings.
“We’ve been working really hard leading up to this game, so to get a win after that much time off feels great,” Puckett said. “I just came out and was trying to attack downhill with the fastball, stay ahead of hitters and then when I had them down make sure to finish them off and not waste pitches. I felt good today.”
Cal Poly scored in each of the first two innings, but the Waves had an answer each time. After the Mustangs went up 1-0 in the first, Brad Anderson smacked a two-run double to the wall in centerfield to put the Waves back up. It was Austin Davidson and Bryan Langlois that drove in the response runs for the Waves in the second, as each had RBI singles to make it a 4-2 game.
Puckett came in to start the third and retired the first six batters he faced, striking out the first five, to shut down the Mustang offense. His seven strikeouts were a career-high for the freshman righty as he lowered his season ERA to 1.65 and picked up his first collegiate win.
The Waves would really put some distance between themselves and the Mustangs with a three-run third inning. Devin Carter hit a two-run single up the middle and then would score when the Cal Poly right-fielder misplayed a Manny Jefferson double at the wall.
Carter was one of three Waves to post multiple RBI on the day, with Anderson leading the way with three and Davidson posting two. Anderson hit a homer in the sixth to put the Waves up 9-3 and went 3-for-4 on the day. Aaron Barnett had a career-high four-hit day, going 4-for-5 with a run scored.
“We just wanted to get things going right away and we were able to today,” Anderson said. “This break actually came at a good time, gave us some rest and now we’re ready to go.”
Cal Poly scored runs in the fifth and eighth innings, but never got any closer than within four runs. Jimmy Allen hit a homer for the Mustangs and led the team at the plate going 2-for-4.
Pepperdine’s 18 hits are a season-high for the Waves and the 11 runs are tied for the second most in a game this year. The win moves the Waves to 31-9 and drops Cal Poly to 36-8.