Feb. 19, 2003
Santa Clara continues to log many miles thus far in the 2003 season, traveling to Santa Barbara, Calif., this weekend for a three-game set with the Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara. Following the three games with UCSB, the Broncos will have played 11 of their first 15 games on the road.
Last Time vs. UC Santa Barbara
The Broncos and the Gauchos hooked up for a three-game set in Buck Shaw Stadium last February with UCSB taking games two and three to win the series 2-1. The Broncos won game one by a 12-6 score behind a solid pitching performance by Joe Diefenderfer. UCSB came back and defeated SCU in the next two games by scores of 12-2 and 6-1. A.J. LaBarbera had a good series for Santa Clara last February against the Gauchos, batting .364 (4-for-11) with five RBI.
Scouting the Gauchos
UC Santa Barbara enters the weekend series with a 4-7 overall record, having won its last two games. The Gauchos won the series finale over San Jose State by a 12-11 score and handed UCLA a 7-5 defeat Tuesday afternoon in Santa Barbara. UCSB is led offensively by Chad Ziemendorf and Matt Wilkerson who each have seven RBI to lead the Gauchos. Ziemendorf has a .394 batting average with a team-leading five doubles and one home run while Wilkerson has a .317 average with four doubles, one triple and one home run. Matt Vasquez is the team's ace and has a 1-1 record with a 4.50 ERA in three starts. Reliever Ivan Ramirez is 1-0 with a team-leading 0.82 ERA in seven appearances and 11 innings pitched.
Probable Pitching Rotation
Santa Clara: Matt Travis, LHP (1-1, 2.16 ERA)
UCSB: Matt Vasquez, RHP (1-1, 4.50 ERA)
Santa Clara: Andrew Slorp, RHP (0-0, 5.40 ERA)
UCSB: Sean Thompson, LHP (0-2, 7.94 ERA)
Santa Clara: John Redmond, LHP (1-2, 9.53 ERA)
UCSB: Eric Posthumus, RHP (0-1, 5.06 ERA)
San Diego State Series Recap
Santa Clara returned to the road last weekend for a three-game series at Tony Gwynn Stadium on the campus of San Diego State University. The Broncos dropped the series opener by a 5-4 score on Friday evening. They came back on Saturday afternoon and handed the Aztecs a 9-6 loss in front of a series-high 1,208 fans. SCU pounded out 10 hits on the day, two of which came from A.J. LaBarbera whose two-run single and two-run home run were instrumental in the victory. Joe Diefenderfer threw four full innings in relief in Saturday's game to pick up the win while Patrick Overholt picked up his second save of the season. Sunday's series finale was all SDSU as the Aztecs scored four time in the bottom of the first inning and never looked back, defeating the Broncos by a 9-3 score and winning the series 2-1. Despite the two losses, Santa Clara still holds the all-time series advantage between the two school with a 6-3 record.
Eight is Enough
The Bronco pitching staff began the season with 16 players that had the potential of seeing time on the mound this year. Of those players only eight have actually seen any time on the mound through the team's first 12 games. All eight pitchers have thrown at least 8 1/3 innings while posting a team ERA of 4.25, far superior to last year's team ERA of 5.51. The staff has also shown very good command, walking only 40 batters while posting 84 strikeouts in the 108 innings of work.
Red Gets Into the Black
For the second week in a row Joe Diefenderfer had a game to remember. In Saturday's 9-6 Bronco win over the San Diego State Aztecs the senior from San Luis Obispo, Calif., started the game in left field, pitched innnings 4-8 and returned to the outfiled for the remainder of the game. Unlike the previous week against UC Irvine where he took a no decision, "Red" picked up the win for his efforts. In his four innings of work on the mound, Diefenderfer allowed two runs on only three hits with one strikeout. He also had a big day at the plate, going 2-for-4 with one run scored and one RBI in the leadoff spot in the order. He currently leads the team with his .394 batting average while his 16 2/3 innings of work and 14 strikeouts on the mound both rank him second on the team.
Senior A.J. LaBarbera is currently batting .327 with one home run, one double and 10 RBI. He has the longest current hitting streak of any Bronco, 10 games, and has delivered in the clutch more than any other Bronco. He is currently batting .500 (9-18) with runners on base, has a .500 (6-12) average with runners in scoring position and is a perfect 3-for-3 with a runner on third base and less than two outs. His 16 hits leads the team while his .450 on base percentage ranks second on the team. Defensively his 35 assists, 16 putouts and 1.000 fielding percentage anchors a Bronco defense that has a .969 fielding percentage, up 12 points from last year's team.
Through his steady play and workman like mentality, Matt Travis has established himself as the program's Friday night starter. The senior from Glendora, Calif., has started four games for the Broncos this season, throwing a team-leading 25 innings of work. He has limited opponents to a .211 batting average while posting a 1-1 record with his 2.16 ERA. He has only given up six earned runs on 19 hits while striking out 17 and walking only four. One of his best performances of the year may have been the loss at No. 3 Stanford where he limited one of the most prolific offenses in the country to three runs on five hits in six full innings of work.
Over and Out
Santa Clara freshman Patrick Overholt has made the most of his time in a Bronco uniform through the first 12 games of the season. The right-handed reliever from Sandy, Utah, has opened more than a few eyes with his performances. He has appeared in just over half of SCU's games, throwing 13 2/3 innings in which he has posted a 2-0 record to go along with his two saves and 0.00 ERA. He has yet to allow an earned run this season while allowing only seven hits. His .152 opponent batting average also leads the team. "Ovie" has earned the role as the team's closer during the 2003 season with his outstanding command and 90+ MPH fastball. Showing his durability as well, Overholt threw the final five innings of the Broncos' 5-4 win in 13 innings over UC Irvine during the final game of the series.
McConnell Cleared to Play
One year after going through Tommy John Surgery, Santa Clara redshirt sophomore Kellen McConnell has been given medical clearance to resume throwing at full speed. The big right handed hurler went 4-2 with a 4.43 ERA in 16 appearances as a freshman for the Broncos but made only one appearances last year before going under the knife for the delicate surgery. His return could not come at a better time for the Broncos who are still searching for another solid arm in the starting pitching rotation. The scouting report on McConnell says that his 88-89 MPH fastball can really surprise people but it is his curveball and changeup that really make him effective.
Next Week: Four-Game Homestand Against Cal and Cal Poly
Following this weekend's three-game series with the Gauchos the Broncos will return home for a four-game homestand. Santa Clara will welcome in Bay Area rival California for a midweek game on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. Following that game the Broncos will host Cal Poly for a three-game weekend series at "The Shaw." Friday's series opener will begin at 3 p.m. while Saturday and Sunday's games are scheduled for 1 p.m. first pitches.