A series sweep against rival Pepperdine University (17-21, 6-9 WCC) has established the Lions (27-13, 14-4 WCC) as a serious West Coast Conference (WCC) contender. Stellar pitching performances from senior pitchers Brenton Arriaga, and Blake Redman, along with junior pitcher Cory Abbott, helped the Lions overpower the Waves by scores of 7-3, 5-1 and 4-2. With this momentum, the Lions now look towards this weekend’s decisive series against the University of San Diego (27-11, 13-5 WCC). The series stands as a potential WCC title-deciding matchup, as San Diego is just a game behind first-place LMU and Gonzaga.
In the series opener, the Lions beat the Waves 7-3 largely in part by four-hit contributions from junior first baseman Jamey Smart and senior left fielder Jimmy Hill. With the game tied 0-0 in the fourth inning, Smart opened the game up when he scrambled home on an RBI single from sophomore third baseman Brandon Shearer. Smart’s RBI drive in the fifth then gave the Lions a 2-0 lead.
When the Waves evened the score in the bottom of the inning, the Lions wasted no time reclaiming the lead in the sixth, as freshman catcher Cooper Uhl contributed a sacrifice fly and Jimmy Hill scored on a throwing error. The Lions would not surrender their lead for the rest of the game and would build onto their lead in the ninth behind Hill’s two-run single.
In the second game of the series, the Waves struggled to get any offense going against the right-hander Abbott. The Waves eventually scored in the sixth inning, ending Abbott’s 43 scoreless innings streak. Despite giving up a lone run to the Waves, Abbott’s earned runs average still stands at an impressive 2.07.
Offensively, senior second baseman Phil Caulfield rebounded from a hitless first game to record three hits in five at bats, including a double and one run scored. Shearer also put forth an impressive outing at the plate as he went three-for-four with an RBI. The second win of the series for the Lions signaled both their offensive ability and capacity to silence opposing batters.
In the final game of the series, Caulfield broke up a ninth-inning tie to lead the Lions to a 4-2 triumph over the Waves. His go-ahead two-RBI single gave the Lions their second sweep of the seasons and improved their weekend series record to 9-0-1. Even though the Lions plated only four runs, they had an effective day at the plate, as junior center fielder Billy Wilson, Caulfield, Shearer and Hill each had two hits.
Wilson’s RBI single in the fifth and RBI triple in the seventh guided the Lions back into the game against a Pepperdine starter who managed to quiet the Lions’ bats until that point. Senior right-hander Redman got the start for the Lions and pitched an effective 6.0 innings and recorded seven strikeouts. Red shirt junior pitcher Harrison Simon earned the win after pitching 2.0 scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth innings.
The Lions will try to ride the momentum of their sweep and their five-game winning streak into their pivotal match-up against the University of San Diego (USD) April 28 to April 30. LMU will be facing an experienced team that has played games against reigning College World Series champions UCLA and Vanderbilt University this season.
The Lions will turn to their pitching staff to quiet the explosive bats of USD junior catcher Riley Adams and senior first baseman Roman Garcia, each who have hit nine home runs on the season, five more than the entire LMU team. The efforts of Abbott and Arriaga will be key if the Lions wish to triumph over the Torero’s this weekend at Page Field.