Pepperdine’s Randy Wolf should have made believers out of Gonzaga last season when he no-hit the Bulldogs in their West Coast Conference debut in Los Angeles.
But just in case there were any doubters hiding out on the GU roster this spring, the Waves’ ace reaffirmed his status as the league’s top pitcher by beating the elements and the Bulldogs 8-0 Friday afternoon at August/A.R.T. Stadium.
The junior left-hander, who entered the game with a microscopic earned-run average of 1.57, wasn’t as dominant as he was on his home turf last year. But he was feisty enough to limit GU to five hits while raising his record to 6-2 with a nine-inning gem that included nine strikeouts and no walks.
“I feel greatly blessed and fortunate that I have a guy like him on my staff,” Pepperdine coach Frank Sanchez graciously announced after watching his league-leading Waves boost their record to 21-16 overall and 8-1 in the WCC.
“Not only does he throw fast (between 87 and 91 mph on a typical day), a lot of guys can do that, but he also has very good command of his fastball on either side of the plate.”
Wolf seemed unfazed by the cold, numbing wind that was blowing from left field to right. He allowed only three or four balls to be hit hard and snuffed out GU’s only serious threat of a big inning by striking out two batters with runners on second and third in the seventh.
“He was just good,” said Gonzaga coach Steve Hertz, whose Bulldogs slipped to 12-13-1 and 2-3. “It’s still 3-0 when we get runners to second and third, but then he - like every great pitcher - took it up a notch and punched two guys out.
“He’s a quality pitcher who’s going to pitch for a living.”
Jeff Bowne was the only GU player with more than one hit, but his two singles came on a bloop to center and an infield roller.
The Waves backed Wolf’s splendid pitching with an 11-hit attack that included a two-run homer by Mark Lopez in the sixth inning. Lopez also doubled in a run in the first and added another RBI with a bases-loaded walk in Pepperdine’s four-run eighth.
GU got six strong innings out of surprise starter Russ Adams (1-3), who stepped in for injured ace Brian Alexander. Alexander, a senior right-hander who had missed his last two starts with a sore elbow, warmed up prior to the game but was scratched when the elbow failed to loosen up.
Hertz was happy with the performance of Adams, who gave up only seven hits and three runs after learning just 10 minutes before the first pitch that he would be throwing it.
But he was concerned with the status of Alexander.
“He’s been off for two weeks now, so I don’t know if he’s even day-to-day anymore,” Hertz said. “I don’t think the outlook is very good.”
The teams continue their four-game series with a noon doubleheader today and close with a single game at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Pepperdine 8, Gonzaga 0
Pepperdine 000 102 041 - 8 11 2
Gonzaga 000 000 000 - 0 5 1
Wolf and Kramer. Adams, Sazama (7), Neace (8), Woiblet (8) and Asan, Canny (8). W-Wolf (6-2). L-Adams (1-3). HITS: Pepperdine-Reid 2, Cosbey, Matranga 2, Zorn 2, Lopez 2, Ferrer, Katz. GU-Bowne 2, Hare, Uberuaga, Davis. 2B-Lopez, Davis. HR-Lopez (3). T-2:49. A-216.
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