Jan. 29, 2002
The Mark O'Brien era as Santa Clara University's baseball coach will officially begin Friday, February 1, when the 11th-ranked Fresno State Bulldogs come into Buck Shaw Stadium for the first of a three-game series against the Broncos. The first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. The two teams will play game the final two games of the series at 1 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.
A Familiar Look, New Attitude
The 2002 Broncos may look similar to last year's team that finished in a tie for first place in the Coast Division of the WCC, but it is the attitude that most players point to as being the main difference in the 2002 season. Mark O'Brien has the team running and hustling in everything it does. From the moment the players step on the field, to the moment they make it through the left field gate after practice, they are running and hustling to the next drill they do. It is an attitude that O'Brien hopes will carry not only onto the field, but into their everyday lives as well.
Santa Clara vs. Fresno State
The Broncos and Bulldogs have tangled eight times in the last three years with the Bulldogs holding a 7-1 series advantage. In 2001 the Broncos and Bulldogs met only twice in Fresno, Calif., with the home team taking both games including a 16 inning thriller in game two by a score of 11-10. Santa Clara's win over Fresno State during the last three years came during the 2000 season when the Broncos defeated the Bulldogs in Fresno by a score of 9-3.
Sizing Up the Bulldogs
Fresno State enters the season-opening series with the Broncos having the No. 11 ranking in the nation according to Collegiate Baseball. The Bulldogs finished the 2001 season with a 41-25 overall record and a 22-14 record in the Western Athletic Conference which placed them second. Their season ended last year with a loss to USC in the Regional Finals. The Bulldogs return 20 letterwinners from last year's team, including seven starters. Their top returning pitcher is Bob Runyon who went 10-1 last season with a 3.54 ERA. Their top position player returning is sophomore infielder Casey McGhee who batted .324 with 50 runs batted in. Head coach Bob Bennett will coach his 34th and final year of collegiate baseball this season for Fresno State. During his time at Fresno State he has led the Bulldogs to 1,270 victories, 21 NCAA tournament appearances and 15 conference championships.
Probable Starting Rotations
Game 1 (Friday, February 1, 3 p.m.):
Joe Diefenderfer (LHP - SCU) vs. Bob Runyon (RHP - FSU)
Game 2 (Saturday, February 2, 1 p.m.):
Kellan McConnell (RHP - SCU) vs. Zach Minor (RHP - FSU)
Game 3 (Sunday, February 3, 1 p.m.):
John Redmond (LHP - SCU) vs. Francisco Nieves (RHP - FSU)