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Loyola Clinches Conference Title : College baseball: Lions foil Pepperdine's hopes of a series sweep and win their first outright championship in 17 years.


Loyola Marymount went 17 years without winning a baseball championship outright.

Catcher Miah Bradbury, the team's backbone, has been at Loyola for only four of those dry years, but he'll tell you it seemed longer than that.

Saturday, the waiting ended for Bradbury and the Lions. Loyola defeated Pepperdine, 7-2, in the first game of a double-header at Pepperdine's Eddy D. Field Stadium.

With it, the Lions clinched the West Coast Conference championship.

Loyola's first solo baseball title since 1973 (it shared the championship with Pepperdine in 1986) gave the Lions a berth in the NCAA tournament.

Pepperdine won Saturday's second game, 3-0, behind the pitching of right-hander Kipp Landis (2-3) and reliever Derek Wallace. The Waves, needing to sweep this weekend's series to salvage the title, came from behind to win Friday's opener, 4-3, in 11 innings.

Pepperdine won four of six against Loyola this year, but it wasn't enough.

The Loyola victory was especially sweet for Bradbury, 22, who was an all-American as a junior but turned down a contract from the Philadelphia Phillies to return for his senior year.

Bradbury, who led the WCC in runs batted in this season with 65, ignited Loyola's three-run third inning with his 16th homer, a 380-foot solo shot off Pepperdine ace Steve Duda.

Loyola (45-15 overall, 25-9 in the WCC and ranked 11th in the nation) will play in one of the NCAA's eight regionals, which begin Thursday and Friday. The 48-team brackets will be announced Monday.

Pepperdine (37-23, 24-12), which had won or shared the last five WCC titles, will have to hope for an at-large bid.

"This was sweet," Loyola Coach Chris Smith said. "We've had some pretty awful weekends up here in Malibu."

In Saturday's first game, Pepperdine had Duda (12-3), the WCC's earned-run average leader at 2.58, on the mound. But Loyola got eight of its 14 hits off him and chased him in the fourth inning.

Meanwhile, Loyola left-hander Jon Willard (13-3) coasted. He gave up five hits--all singles--and only one earned run.

The Lions backed Willard with air-tight defense.

Bobby Hughes made a diving grab of a line drive at third, center fielder Rick Mediavilla added a fine running catch in the left-field alley, and first baseman Joe Ciccarella sprinted down the foul line for an over-the-shoulder catch.

Mediavilla had four hits in the series for a season total of 109, a school and conference record. He is hitting a school-record .421.

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