Pepperdine Wins, 6-0, With Orel Impression : College World Series: Ahearne, looking every bit like his idol, beats Wichita State.
Patrick Ahearne visited Dodger Stadium a few weeks ago and managed to arrange a pregame introduction to his idol, Orel Hershiser.
Ahearne, a 6-foot-3 senior right-hander for Pepperdine, bears a striking resemblance to Hershiser. He wears number 55, has studiously developed almost identical pitching mechanics and has overmatched college hitters this season the way Hershiser handled major leaguers before shoulder surgery.
“I gave him my phone number and told him I wanted to talk baseball sometime,” Ahearne said. “I even called the Dodgers’ hotel in Chicago on Friday. I left him a message telling him to watch me pitch if he got a chance.”
Before going out to pitch against the Cubs Saturday, Hershiser did watch Ahearne pitch against Wichita State during the first round of the College World Series. He joined a network television audience and a crowd of 14,024 at Rosenblatt Stadium that bore witness to Ahearne’s dominating performance in the Waves’ 6-0 victory over the Shockers.
Ahearne (14-2) gave up three singles and had nine strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings against a Wichita State team that was averaging nearly 10 runs. Steve Montgomery retired all five batters he faced as the Waves handed the Shockers their first shutout in 149 games dating to 1990.
Dan Melendez hit a three-run home run during the third inning and Steve Rodriguez hit a two-run homer during the fourth to lead the Waves, who had eight hits and chased right-hander Charlie Giaudrone (13-2) after 3 2/3 innings.
Pepperdine (45-11-1), seeded seventh in the eight-team tournament, will play No. 3 Texas, which beat Oklahoma on Saturday night, on Monday. Second-seeded Wichita State (56-10) will play the No. 6 Sooners.
Ahearne retired the first nine batters and struck out the side in the third inning. Doug Mirabelli’s fly ball to right during the fourth inning was the only out recorded by Ahearne that did not come on a ground ball or a strikeout.
“I had pretty good command and got in front of hitters,” said Ahearne, a first-team All-American. “I don’t know how all the strikeouts came. I just went after them and tried to let our defense take care of things.”
Wichita State’s only threat came during the fourth inning when the Shockers loaded the bases on a fielder’s choice, an error by shortstop Eric Ekdahl and a two-out walk. Ahearne struck out Jason White to end the inning.
“This was the worst performance that we have had in the history of our program in the College World Series . . . " said Wichita State Coach Gene Stephenson, who has guided the Shockers to five World Series appearances, including the 1989 championship. “It looked to me like we came to the ballpark with the idea that we were going to live off our past reputation.”
Pepperdine, making its first World Series appearance since 1979, took a 1-0 lead during the second inning. David Main walked, took third on Mark Wasikowski’s single and scored on an errant pick-off throw by Giaudrone.
Melendez, a junior first baseman, hit his 11th home run after Rodriguez and Matt McElreath singled to start the third inning.
“All of us had the jitters to some degree being here for the first time,” Melendez said. “But once we got out in front, there was no turning back.”
Rodriguez, a junior second baseman, completed the scoring with his fourth home run.