Dons can’t handle Waves 

The phrase "USF Dons 2007 WCC Champs" is written in black marker on a dry erase board in the Dutch Anderson Press Box.

But Friday afternoon at Benedetti Diamond, Barry Enright and the Pepperdine baseball team proved the West Coast Conference still belongs to them until further notice. Enright tossed eight shutout innings to lower his ERA to 1.41 and the Waves (27-10, 7-0 WCC) racked up 13 hits in an impressive 10-4 win over the host Dons in a rematch of last year’s conference championship series won by Pepperdine. USF (18-18, 2-5) will look to get back on track when the two teams resume their three-game series today at 1 p.m. back at Benedetti Diamond.

"We have to figure out how to get a lead and get back to playing some solid baseball," USF coach Nino Giarratano said. "Every team goes through some tough times and we certainly are now. Hopefully we can bounce back and get back in this series."

A pitchers’ duel was expected in Friday’s opener, as Enright and Dons starter Aaron Poreda were each named to the preseason watch lists for both the Brooks Wallace and Roger Clemens awards. Enright certainly held up his end of the deal, allowing just five hits, striking out seven and walking none in eight shutout innings. And while Poreda seemed to have good stuff, he was his own worst enemy in the field.

After allowing a bloop single to Eric Thames to open the third inning, Poreda fielded a Luke Salas bunt and elected to try for the force play at second, but his throw was too late. Adrian Ortiz then bunted for a base hit to load the bases and, with two outs, Donald Brown ripped a two-run single to put Pepperdine up 2-0. In the next inning, the left-hander couldn’t handle another Salas bunt, which eventually led to an unearned run.

"They really didn’t hit Aaron that hard, but we just couldn’t play catch," Giarratano said. "They’re too good a team to give that many free bases to."

Pepperdine, ranked 10th by Baseball America, poured it on in the ninth, scoring four runs off the USF bullpen to take a 10-0 lead. The Dons avoided the shutout when Chris Bacigalupi ripped a home run down the left-field line leading off the bottom of the ninth. The Dons tacked on three more runs on RBI hits by Derrek Poppert, Lucas DeLongand Joey Railey.

That wasn’t all the damage USF suffered. Starting shortstop Tavo Hall had to leave the game in the top of the eighth inning after injuring his left arm making a tag at second base. Giarratano said it appeared the arm was broken. Hall missed the majority of last season after breaking his left wrist.

Pepperdine 10, USF 4

melliser@examiner.com

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