Randy Wolf he’s not, but left-hander Paul Avery looked enough like a Wolf in Pepperdine clothing Wednesday to fool Cal State Northridge.
Avery struck out 11 in eight innings, mixing an 88 mph fastball with a wicked slider. It was the type of performance so often turned in the last three years by Wolf, a former Pepperdine All-American left-hander who is pitching in the Philadelphia Phillies’ farm system.
Avery allowed three home runs but none came with runners on base and the Waves’ makeshift lineup of slumping hitters generated enough offense to produce a 4-3 victory at Pepperdine.
Josh Oder’s ground ball single down the first-base line with none out in the ninth escaped the grasp of diving first baseman Adrian Mendoza and allowed Chris Cosbey to score the winning run.
It was a needed boost for the Waves (6-9-1), whose high hopes for this season have been dampened by a .236 team batting average.
“Our team played very well,” Coach Frank Sanchez said. “We showed the most energy I’ve seen this year.”
The Waves took the field without their best player, shortstop David Matranga, who has a sore back. Freshman Dane Sardinha, rated the nation’s best high school catcher last year, moved to second base, Damon Katz went from second to shortstop and Mike Kramer did the catching.
Kramer drove in a run with a single in the second inning, Katz singled and walked, Sardinha singled and scored in the sixth, and the Waves were errorless except for an errant pickoff throw.
Of course, the defense spent a lot of time watching Avery set down Matador batters on strikes. More than 20 scouts were on hand evaluating Avery, a redshirt sophomore transfer from Fresno City College who was drafted in the fifth round last June by the Florida Marlins.
“This was the third start in a row he has gone deep into the game, and he can rack up the Ks when he’s pitching well,” Sanchez said.
Northridge Coach Mike Batesole had no complaints about his pitching, either.
Left-hander Jose Vasquez allowed one run and four hits until the sixth, when the last batter he faced, freshman first baseman Jared Pitney, doubled to score two runs and tie the score, 3-3.
Relievers Eric Fuller, Carey Novits and Jim DeBiase (1-2) also were effective.
“In a Division I baseball game with aluminum bats, holding a team to four runs should mean a victory,” Batesole said.
Nakia Hill led off the game with a home run for the Matadors (11-10), who are averaging nearly eight runs a game.
But Northridge didn’t score again until the fifth, when Hill hit his fifth home run and Kevin Patrick also hit a home run.
Freshman Jay Adams, who has emerged as Pepperdine’s closer, replaced Avery after Adrian Mendoza led off the ninth with a single. Mendoza was thrown out stealing on a botched hit-and-run and Adams (2-1) retired the side.