Pepperdine ready to face Frogs in first Super Regional appearance

Posted Friday, Jun. 06, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

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Not everybody is familiar with Pepperdine University. Those who are know that the Waves have a rich history with their baseball program.

In 75 years, the Waves have won nearly 2,000 games, 18 West Coast Conference championships and have made 33 postseason appearances.

Under coach Steve Rodriguez, the Waves have gone to the NCAA tournament seven times, including five straight when he first came on in 2004.

Pepperdine (42-16) is making its first trip to the super regionals since the second playoff tier was implemented in 1999.

“We’re unbelievably excited to be here. We’re able to do this again with a great group of kids,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t know if they realize what they’ve done yet, but for us as coaches, it’s a pretty special group we have here.”

The Waves face the Horned Frogs in a best-of-three series, which runs Saturday (3 p.m.) through Monday at Lupton Stadium.

“It’s similar types of baseball, which will make this matchup very interesting,” Rodriguez said of facing TCU and coach Jim Schlossnagle. “I have tremendous amount of respect for him, and the quality of young men that leave here just says a lot of what he’s doing.”

The Waves have dominated in the postseason this year, going 3-0 in the WCC tournament and 3-0 in the regional. They’ve outscored opponents 30-13 and posted a 2.00 ERA.

As a team, the Waves sport a batting average of .284. They’re led by catcher Aaron Barnett, who’s batting .373 and has 79 hits.

As good as their offense has been, their pitching is even better. The Waves have posted a team ERA of 2.52, best in the WCC and 10th in the nation.

Junior Aaron Brown plays the outfield when he isn’t pitching and leads the team with 12 home runs and 47 RBIs. He also has 72 hits and 43 runs, both second on the team.

When he has taken the mound, he’s 12-1 in 16 starts while posting a 2.07 ERA.

“His home runs are legit, but they have a way more complete team than just him. He’s a great player, but they have balance throughout their order,” Schlossnagle said.

Corey Miller leads the rotation with a 1.75 ERA in 15 starts while posting a 9-4 record.

“I was drafted last year and I chose to come back,” Miller said. “I wanted to make another regional, I wasn’t done at Pepperdine. I wanted to make the super regional, I wanted to make the College World Series and for that to happen in my senior year, it will make it all worth coming back.”

Miller ranks first in the WCC in ERA and second in strikeouts.

Brown, who was selected by the Phillies with the 81st pick in the MLB draft on Friday, ranks second in the WCC in ERA, first in wins and strikeouts. His 12 wins rank fourth in the country.

“Pepperdine is one of those teams that is talented and hot. They are very talented on the mound, one of the teams that can match up with us pitcher for pitcher, especially in the bullpen,” Schlossnagle said. “Experienced guys and talented freshmen, and this is how it’s supposed to be ... for the right to go to Omaha.”

It wasn’t until 1979 when the Waves reached the College World Series, finishing third and compiling a school-record 53 wins, which still stands.

Pepperdine found trouble making it back there until 1992, when coach Andy Lopez took All-American selection Rodriguez and the Waves to their first NCAA championship by beating local rival Cal-State Fullerton. That was the Waves’ last appearance in the World Series.

Notable MLB players from Pepperdine include Dan Haren of the Dodgers, Randy Wolf of the Marlins and Danny Worth of the Tigers.

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