Notebook: Brown overcomes shaky start to shut down Mustangs

Also, with exception of UC Irvine, Big West teams struggle on Day 2 of NCAA regionals

ajankowski@thetribunenews.comMay 31, 2014 

Through two innings, the Cal Poly baseball team made Pepperdine star pitcher Aaron Brown labor through 50 pitches while the Mustangs starter, Casey Bloomquist, threw just 17.

But with only one run to show for it, the headway Cal Poly was able to make didn’t last, as Brown settled down to throw 121 pitches over eight effective innings, and the Waves scored twice in the seventh to hand the Mustangs a 2-1 loss in their second game of the San Luis Obispo Regional at Baggett Stadium on Saturday.

“I think we got away from taking pitches and getting our pitch,” Cal Poly outfielder Zack Zehner said. “We swung a little early in the count a few times, and gave them a few outs.”

Brown, a highly touted two-way player with major-league prospects as both a left-handed pitcher and an outfielder, gave up just three hits in eight innings to go along with his one unearned run, four strikeouts and four walks.

Two of those walks came in the first two innings, and the Waves committed three errors in the pair of frames, including a throw away by Brown on an attempted pick-off move to first that allowed Jimmy Allen to go all the way to third.

Allen was thrown out at home two batters later on a fielder’s choice, but another error and a walk loaded the bases for Mark Mathias, who hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Chris Hoo for the game’s first run.

However, it turned out to be the Mustangs’ lone run of the game.

“I just settled in and found the zone,” said Brown, who improved to 12-1 on the year and lowered his ERA to 2.07. “I got guys to get out on one or two pitches, and moved on from there.”

Brown threw no more than 14 pitches and faced no more than four batters in any of the final six innings he pitched, retiring the side in order four times and inducing inning-ending double plays in the third and fifth.

“They gave us opportunities early; they made three errors and we didn’t quite cash in with what we needed,” Cal Poly coach Larry Lee said. “But I thought overall, we had a good approach. There’s guys in this lineup that you want swinging at early pitches, and there’s guys you want to take pitches.

“He’s a legit guy. He’s a position player on the mound. He’s aggressive, and he goes after you with a lot of confidence.”

Tough day for Davidson

It was a rough start to the game for Pepperdine third baseman Austin Davidson, who committed two errors in the first two innings, and things did not get much better for the Waves’ No. 2 hitter.

Davidson finished the day 0 for 4 at the plate with two strikeouts, was charged with another error in the eighth and was part of a short delay in the sixth with home plate umpire John Haggerty.

Davidson was on deck to bat in the sixth, when Haggerty stopped play to force Davidson closer to the dugout and farther from the plate with some protest from Davidson and Pepperdine coach Steve Rodriguez. Davidson led off the following inning, and struck out looking on an inside pitch from Casey Bloomquist that led to more words between Davidson and Haggerty.

The throwing error charged to Davidson in the eighth was nullified when Brian Mundell, who hit the ball, was thrown out trying to advance to second on the play. Davidson did make the play when it mattered most, throwing Jimmy Allen out at first for the second out of the ninth inning.

Big West struggles on Day 2

After a banner day for the Big West on Friday with a 4-0 showing on the first day of regional action, the conference regressed in its second crack at the nation’s top teams.

UC Irvine beat top-ranked Oregon State 14-2, but the other three Big West teams did not find similar success.

Cal Poly fell at home, 2-1, to Pepperdine in the San Luis Obispo Regional. Cal State Fullerton lost to Oklahoma State, 13-7, in a slugfest that featured a total of 31 hits in the Stillwater (Okla.) Regional, and despite outhitting the College of Charleston 7-4, Long Beach State fell 6-3 in the winners bracket of the Gainesville (Fla.) Regional.

Hoops player shines with anthem rendition

Cal Poly women’s basketball team senior guard Nwamaka Ofodu belted out the National Anthem prior to the afternoon elimination game between Arizona State and Sacramento State and drew high praise from those in attendance. Sarah Jungkeit followed with the anthem before the night game.

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