Pepperdine, or California Baylor as I’d like to champion, is coming off a cleansheet in the San Louis Obipso Regional. Despite being a 3-seed, the Waves beat Arizona State and Cal Poly (twice) to advance to its first Super Regional since winning the College World Series in 1992.
The Waves are an eclectic bunch with a strong mix of talented freshman and upper classmen to give them a nice balance. Offensively, Pepperdine gets a big boost from freshman catcher Aaron Bennett, who’s hitting a team-high of .373 (over 60 points above anyone else on the team). The waves also get an offensive boost from Hutton Moyer and Brad Anderson. Defensively, Bennett is outstanding as a catcher, highlighted by tossing out 42% of base stealers. Second baseman Many Jefferson, also a freshman, is superb defensively and is a big playmaker. In addition to showing great range and making big plays, Jefferson also boats a .957 fielding average.
But Pepperdine’s crown jewel is the pitcher/center fielder, Aaron Brown. Brown is projected by most outlets to go in the top-rounds as either a pitcher or fielder----and it’s easy to see why. As a pitcher, he’s 11-1 with a 2.24 ERA and is hitting .310 with team highs in slugging (.539) and home runs (12)---Brown is also second in triples with 3, just one behind Hutton Moyer. Brown and the Waves also have a great closer in Eric Karch (1.80 ERA, 13 saves).
The crowd and environment in Fort Worth is a lot different from the one in San Luis Obispo, so that will play in favor of the Frogs. But with a Top-25 RPI, a strong record, and a diverse lineup, Pepperdine certainly isn’t a team you want to sleep on. Cal Poly and ASU did this weekend---and look where that got them.