April 15, 2003
Santa Clara returns to the road for a three-game series at the University of Portland. The Broncos and Pilots will begin their series on Thursday, April 17th at 3 p.m. on the Portland campus. They will play games two and three as part of a Saturday doubleheader which is scheduled for an 11 a.m. start at Pilot Stadium. The abnormal schedule was arranged to accommodate the Good Friday and Easter Sunday holidays. SCU is scheduled to fly out of Portland at 7 p.m. Saturday evening. Santa Clara holds the advantage in the all-time series between the two schools with its 23-11 record while in WCC only action, Santa Clara also leads in the series with a 20-9 advantage. Since 1998 the Broncos have a 13-8 record against the Pilots including a 6-3 record at Pilot Field.
Last Year vs. Portland
The Pilots took two of three games from the Broncos last year in Buck Shaw Stadium. Santa Clara was doubled up in game one, losing to Portland by a score of 22-11. SCU rebounded in game two of the series for a 8-3 victory behind Joe Diefenderfer's complete game victory. Diefenderfer allowed only three runs while scattering 12 hits and striking out four. Game three was a heartbreaker for the Broncos as they held a 3-0 lead heading into the ninth inning before a five run ninth gave Portland the victory. Matt Travis threw eight innings of scoreless ball before giving up five runs, four of which came on a grand slam before leaving the contest with one out in the ninth. Scott Dierks finished the weekend by going 5-for-9 with two doubles and three RBI.
Scouting The Pilots
Portland enters the series with Santa Clara having an overall record of 8-26-1 and a conference mark of 4-10-1. In their last series the Pilots went 0-2-1 at Saint Mary's with the final game being declared a tie after the 11th inning on Sunday. Kory Casto leads the team with his .313 average, seven home runs and 32 RBI. Stephen Ball has a 2-1 record and a team-leading 4.96 ERA in five starts. As a team the Pilots are batting .264 while their team ERA is at 7.63
Probable Starting Pitchers
Santa Clara: Matt Travis, LHP (3-6, 3.98 ERA)
Portland: Stephen Ball, RHP (2-1, 4.96 ERA)
Santa Clara: Joe Diefenderfer, LHP (6-3, 3.79 ERA)
Portland: Jared Adams, LHP (1-2, 6.07 ERA)
Santa Clara: Kellan McConnell, RHP (1-3, 5.24 ERA)
Portland: Trent Kristjanson, RHP (1-5, 6.88 ERA)
Santa Clara vs. San Diego - Series Recap
The Broncos rallied after dropping game one by a 16-5 score to sweep a Sunday doubleheader from San Diego by scores of 6-0 and 2-1. In Friday's series opener the Bronco pitching staff had two bad innings that resulted in 14 of the Toreros' 16 runs which, snapping Santa Clara's four-game conference win streak. After a rainout forced a Sunday doubleheader, Joe Diefenderfer led the Broncos to a convincing 6-0 win in Sunday's first game. Diefenderfer tossed a complete-game shutout, his second of the year, allowing only five hits while striking out seven for his sixth win of the season. The second game of the double dip was a nail biter from the beginning as Santa Clara scored once in third and once in the seventh for a 2-1 victory that moved them to within two games of Coast Division leader Pepperdine. Shawn Epidendio provided what turned out to be the game-winning RBI in the seventh inning with a single that scored A.J. LaBarbera, providing the cushion Santa Clara needed as USD only managed one run in the eighth.
Diefenderfer Named Pitcher of the Week
Santa Clara's Joe Diefenderfer was named the West Coast Conference pitcher of the Week Monday afternoon after tossing a complete-game shutout against San Diego over the weekend in Buck Shaw Stadium. The senior from San Luis Obispo, Calif., led the Broncos to a 6-0 victory in game one of the Sunday doubleheader with USD, allowing only five hits while striking out seven to up his season record to 6-3 on the year. It was the second complete game shutout that he has thrown this season which lowered his season ERA to 3.79.
Santa Clara played its fifth doubleheader under second-year head coach Mark O'Brien this past weekend against San Diego, with the Broncos coming out on top in both games. Those two victories move SCU's record to 9-1 in doubleheaders under O'Brien. Their lone loss came earlier this year by a 9-7 score at Gonzaga. The Broncos will play their fourth twin bill of the season this weekend on Saturday at Portland.
Goodbye Mr. Baseball
Santa Clara leads the West Coast Conference in home runs hit thus far in 2003, posting 40 big flies in 39 games. The next closest team in the league is San Diego who has 27 home runs in 42 games. The Broncos have a shot to break the all-time single season team mark for home runs in Santa Clara history which was set in 1984 when that team belted 62 home runs.
Pitching Staff Coming Up Big in WCC
At the halfway point in league play, the Broncos have good reason for their 10-5 start to conference action. The pitching staff has posted a 3.46 team ERA during WCC games, striking out 102 and walking only 43. Joe Diefenderfer has made the most of his five conference starts, registering a 4-0 record with a 1.62 ERA. John Redmond trails closely behind with his 3-0 mark and 2.81 ERA. Anthony Rea has yet to allow an earned run in eight full innings of work in eight mound appearances.
Senior Scott Dierks is having himself an incredible year from the leadoff spot in the batting order. Thus far in 2003 Dierks is leading the team in each of the following categories, batting .463 with 14 home runs, 26 RBI, 30 runs scored, 95 total bases, a slugging percentage of 1.000 and an on base percentage of .564. His batting average currently ranks as the highest single season mark in SCU history while his 14 home runs is currently the fifth highest total in program history. Gene Delyon set the single-season home run mark in 1974 with his 19 home runs. Dierks is currently averaging one home run for every 6.79 at-bats, posting the 14 blasts in only 95 at-bats. His average in league play is even more impressive, connecting on 10 home runs in only 58 at-bats, good for one home run in every 5.80 at-bats. Of his 14 home runs in 2003, six have come as leadoff home runs, including four leadoff home runs in the last eight ball games.
Senior Jack Headley has steadily increased his batting average this season and is now fourth on the team with his .307 batting average. He leads the team in doubles (11), triples (3) and stolen bases (13). His 20 runs batted in are third on the team, trailing only Scott Dierks and Will Thompson. Even more remarkable are his strikeouts and base on balls numbers. The Gilroy, California native has walked 11 times this season and struck out only eight times. He has also been hit by a pitch on three separate occasions.
Next Week: Broncos Play at Cal, Return Home for Three-Game Set with LMU
Santa Clara returns to the Bay Area for four-games next week beginning with a midweek game at California. The Tuesday afternoon contest is slated for a 2:30 p.m. first pitch from Berkeley. The Broncos will return to Buck Shaw Stadium for a three-game weekend series with WCC West Division Leader Loyola Marymount beginning Friday evening at 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday's games are both scheduled for 1 p.m. starts at "The Shaw."