February 24, 2003

Baseball Returns Home for Four-Game Homestand This Week

Feb. 24, 2003

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This Week
Santa Clara returns home to Buck Shaw Stadium for a four-game homestand this week, beginning with a midweek game against Bay Area rival, California. Following Tuesday night's game with the Golden Bears the Broncos welcome the Cal Poly Mustangs to "The Shaw" for a three-game weekend series.

Last Year vs. Cal
Santa Clara and Cal played two times in 2003 with the Golden Bears scoring five times in their final at bat to beat the Broncos both times. The first meeting witnessed Cal register five runs in the top of the ninth inning to claim victory over SCU by a 10-7 score at Buck Shaw Stadium. Nearly two months later in Berkeley, Cal scored five times in the bottom of the ninth inning to capture game two of the season series by a 7-6 margin. Both losses came during the Broncos two longest losing streaks of the season in 2002, both of which were five games. The other notable item from last year's games with Cal is that each time the Golden Bears scored their five runs in the ninth inning they came on four hits and the winning run was unearned in both instances.

Scouting The Golden Bears
Cal enters the midweek game with a 10-5 overall record, having won nine of its last 12 ball games. They had won eight of nine games entering last weekend's series with Long Beach State where they were able to win only game two of the three game series in Long Beach. Brian Horwitz leads the potent offense for Cal, batting .349 with a team-leading five home runs and 22 RBI. Starter Joe Todoroff is 2-0 with a 3.31 ERA while reliever Jesse Ingram is also 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in eight appearances.

Probable Starting Pitchers
Santa Clara: Scott Shapiro, RHP (0-0, 5.40 ERA)
California: Joe Todoroff, RHP (2-0, 3.31 ERA)

Santa Clara vs. Cal Poly
The Broncos and Mustangs will compete this weekend in a three-game series at Santa Clara's Buck Shaw Stadium. Santa Clara has a 28-24 all-time series advantage over the Mustangs, but trail in the series since Cal Poly went Division I in 1995 by a 3-2 margin. The series will be the first three-game set the two programs have played against each other since Cal Poly made the move to D-1, and will be the first time the two teams have met since 1999.

Scouting The Mustangs
Cal Poly enters the week with a 7-7 overall record having taken one of three game from Loyola Marymount last weekend in Sun Luis Obispo, Calif. The Mustangs are led offensively by Sam Herbert who is batting .382 with seven doubles, one triple and eight RBI in 55 plate appearances this season. Billy Saul trails closely behind with his .362 average and team lead in both home runs (1) and RBI (10). Josh Kougl has thrown a team-high 26 innings on the mound for the Mustangs, putting together a 0-2 record and a 4.50 ERA. Tyler Fitch is 2-2 with a 4.74 ERA in five starts and has the team lead in strikeouts with 23.

Probable Weekend Pitching Rotation
Game 1
Santa Clara: Matt Travis, LHP (1-2, 2.73 ERA)
Cal Poly: Tyler Fitch, RHP (2-2, 4.74 ERA)

Game 2
Santa Clara: TBA
Cal Poly: Josh Kougl, LHP (0-2, 4.50 ERA)

Game 3
Santa Clara: John Redmond, LHP (1-2, 9.53 ERA)
Cal Poly: Andrew McDaniel, RHP (0-1, 6.52 ERA)

Current Broncos with Mustang Roots
Three members of the Santa Clara baseball staff are former players from Cal Poly. Assistant coach Mike Oakland was drafted by the Colorado Rockies after his 1992 season in San Luis Obispo. He still has the seventh highest career batting average in Cal Poly history with his .342 mark. Assistant coach Scott Kidd was drafted by the New York Yankees following his 1997 season with Cal Poly. Kidd has the second highest single-season batting average at .402 and holds the single-season hits record with his 105 hits in 1997. Additionally the Scott Kidd Rookie of the Year Award is given annually to the top freshman at Cal Poly in honor of Kidd and his achievements. Director of Baseball Operations Mike Zirelli was drafted by the San Francisco Giants following his 1999 season as a Mustang. Zirelli appeared in 66 contests for Cal Poly and is second on the career list at Cal Poly in appearances, wins (27) and innings pitched (450 2/3).

Head Coach Mark O'Brien
Santa Clara enters the 2003 season under the direction of second-year head coach Mark O'Brien. During his first season at the helm of the program, O'Brien led the Broncos to a 25-30 overall record and a 15-14 mark in the West Coast Conference. Included in his 25 wins during the 2002 season were victories over No. 1 Stanford and No. 13 Fresno State. He also guided the Broncos to series sweeps over Pepperdine and San Francisco. Under his tutelage senior Joey Gomes earned First Team All-America, All-West Region and All-WCC honors in 2002 after leading the nation in doubles. He also had two honorable mention All-WCC performers in Matt Travis and Jim Wallace.

UC Santa Barbara Series Recap
Santa Clara played its 9th, 10th and 11th games on the road in its first 15 games last weekend, taking on UC Santa Barbara at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium on the campus of UCSB. The Gauchos took game one from the Broncos by a 5-1 score. Matt Travis took the loss for Santa Clara despite throwing his first complete game of the season. A.J. LaBarbera connected on his second home run of the season for the Broncos' only run, which came in the first inning. Saturday's game proved to be much needed for SCU as they scored 13 runs on 17 hits in the 13-6 victory over UCSB. Sophomore transfer Will Thompson made a lot of noise in his first start of the season for the Broncos, going 4-for-4 with a grand slam, triple, two doubles, three runs scored and six RBI. Joe Diefenderfer picked up the win after throwing 6 2/3 innings of relief in which he allowed only one run on four hits with no walks and seven strikeouts. Sunday's series finale was a marathon that saw the Gauchos win 5-4 in the 10th inning, as the game took nearly four hours to complete. Thompson continued his hot hitting, going 3-for-4 with a home run, one run scored and one run driven in. The one win and two losses over the weekend moved the Broncos' record to 7-8 on the season.

Will The Thrill
Sophomore first baseman Will Thompson made a big splash in his debut with Santa Clara over the weekend at UC Santa Barbara, going 7-for-9 on the weekend with two home runs, two doubles, one triple, four runs scored and seven RBI. The transfer from the University of Arizona made his first plate appearance of the season on Friday, going 0-for-1 in a pinch hitting role. He then made his first start in Saturday's 13-6 win over the Gauchos, a game in which he proved to be the offensive hero. He stepped to the plate in the top of the first inning and promptly belted an opposite field grand slam on the first pitch he saw. From there the dominoes started to fall as he finished the day by going 4-for-4 with the grand slam, one triple, two doubles, three runs scored and six RBI. He followed that day with a 3-for-4 day on Sunday in which he picked up another home run, one more run scored and one more RBI.

Oh What a Reliever He Is
In Saturday's 13-6 win over UC Santa Barbara, Joe Diefenderfer came in from left field and pitched masterfully for the third weekend in a row. Against the Gauchos he threw 6 /23 innings of work in which he allowed only one run on four hits while walking none and striking out seven to improve to 2-2 on the season. The previous two weekends against UC Irvine and San Diego State, Diefenderfer did the same thing where he came on in relief, threw very well and then returned to the outfield to finish the game. Over the last three weekends, Diefenderfer is 2-1 with one walk, 13 strikeouts and a 2.81 ERA in 16 innings of work. Overall he is currently third on the team with his .306 batting average while his 23 1/3 innings of work on the mound is second on the team and his 21 strikeouts is tied for the team lead.

Strictly Streaking
Senior A.J. LaBarbera is currently batting .344 with two home runs, two doubles and 11 RBI. He has the longest current hitting streak of any Bronco, 13 games, and has delivered in the clutch more than any other Bronco. He is currently batting .455 (10-22) with runners on base, has a .462 (6-13) average with runners in scoring position and is a 3-for-4 with a runner on third base and less than two outs. His 21 hits leads the team as does his batting average and his .467 on base percentage. Defensively his 41 assists, 20 putouts and 1.000 fielding percentage anchors a Bronco defense that has a .968 fielding percentage, which is 11 points higher than last year's team.

Next Week: One Game at Pacific, Three-Game Series with San Jose State
Santa Clara will play four more games next week, three of which will be on the road. Tuesday night's midweek matchup with Pacific is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start in Stockton, Calif. The Broncos will return to the Bay Area for a three-game series with cross-town rival San Jose State. SCU and SJSU will play game one and game three at Municipal Stadium right next to the San Jose State campus. Friday's game is scheduled for 6 p.m. while Sunday's series finale will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday's game at Buck Shaw Stadium is also scheduled for a 1 p.m. first pitch.