Feb. 22, 2006
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Following a wild and unpredictable week which saw them take two of three games and even their record at 5-5, the Santa Clara University baseball team will face a major challenge on the road beginning Friday night as they travel to San Luis Obispo to take on the No. 22 Cal Poly Mustangs.
The Broncos (5-5) have won three of their last four, most recently an 11-9 victory over the Sacramento State Hornets Tuesday evening at Stephen Schott Stadium. Daniel DeMarco got his second win of the season with three innings of shutout relief, allowing only one hit. Gabriel Alcantar and Brady Fuerst stepped up with three hits apiece and Fuerst added a triple and drove in three runs.
Santa Clara's rotation of young guns has been nothing short of spectacular thus far in 2006, with freshman Sean O'Neill (0-1, 0.89 ERA) leading the way. Despite two no-decisions and a tough 1-0 loss Saturday, O'Neill has limited opposing batters to a .197 average and only two earned runs while striking out 12 in 20.1 innings of work.
Justin Kuehn worked eight and one-third solid innings of one-run ball Sunday against UC Riverside, preserving a 1-1 tie before handing things off to fellow freshman Mark Willinsky. Willinsky worked four and two-thirds innings in relief, notching his first collegiate win as SCU made a 13th-inning comeback for the 3-2 win. Willinsky (1-0, 2.53 ERA, one save) has established himself as Santa Clara's top arm out of the `pen, striking out 10 batter in just over 10 innings of work.
Offensively the Broncos will rely on freshman Matt Long (.393, two doubles, five RBIs) and junior Kyle Hartz (.325, team-leading 13 hits) to set the table for big bats Dustin Realini (.263, four doubles, one home run, four RBIs) and Kris Watts (.278, six doubles). Fuerst, who in limited action has six hits in nine at-bats along with five runs driven in, may also find himself in a position to contribute this weekend in SLO.
The No. 22 Mustangs (9-3), representing the Big West Conference, come into this weekend off of taking two of three from San Diego State. Jimmy Van Ostrand leads a highly-productive offense with five homers and 17 RBIs while Matt Canepa (.452, 9 RBIs) and speedster Brent Walker (.341, seven stolen bases) provide able backup.
Hurlers Gary Daley (2-1, 3.13 ERA) and Bud Norris (3-0, 1.96 ERA) anchor the starting staff while Rocky Roquet (2.84 ERA, six saves) is called upon when things need to be closed down.
First pitch for Friday's opening game is set for 6 p.m. while starting time for Saturday and Sunday's contests from Baggett Stadium is set for 1 p.m.