March 24, 2006
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - With finals week just completed, the Santa Clara University baseball team will exchange their blue books and study guides for bats, gloves and Hawaiian shirts for the first weekend of Spring Break. The Broncos travel to the big island of Hawaii to take on the University of Hawaii-Hilo Vulcans in a four-game series beginning with a doubleheader Saturday afternoon.
First pitch for tomorrow's twinbill is set for 3 p.m. Pacific (1 p.m. local time), with the nightcap beginning approximately 25-30 minutes following the conclusion of the first game. The contests scheduled for Sunday and Monday afternoons will also begin at 3 p.m. Pacific time.
This weekend marks the final non-conference series for the Broncos as they will return home to Stephen Schott Stadium Friday through Sunday, March 31-April 2. Santa Clara opens West Coast Conference play Friday night at 7 p.m. against the visiting San Francisco Dons, with Saturday and Sunday's games set for 1 p.m. starts. Tickets are available by calling (408) 554-4660 or by visiting the Leavey Center ticket office.
Santa Clara (13-11) enters this weekend fresh off of a 3-1 homestand to climb back over the .500 mark for the second time this season. After Wednesday's 9-1 loss to UC Davis brought the Bronco slide to four games, SCU bounced back over the weekend with a three-game sweep over the Northwestern Wildcats.
Eric Newton went 3-for-7 (.429) during the series with his third homer of the year while Daniel Nava batted .500 (6-for-12) in the series with a pair of triples and RBIs. Matt Wickswat earned his fourth win of the season in Sunday's first game, going six and a third scoreless innings, while Justin Kuehn followed that up in the nightcap with a solid six-inning outing to earn his second victory of the year.
Nava currently is tied for the West Coast Conference lead with four triples, while also among the league leaders in statistical categories are freshmen Brady Fuerst, Matt Long, Matt Wickswat and Mark Willinsky. Fuerst and Long are among the WCC's batting leaders, with Long's .361 clip ranking ninth in the conference while Fuerst's .345 batting average stands 11th.
On the pitching side of things, Wickswat and reliever Daniel DeMarco are tied for second in wins on the season with four apiece. DeMarco also leads the WCC with 13 mound appearances thus far while Wickswat's 3.00 earned-run average is sixth in the conference. Willinsky, the fireballing closer, leads the WCC with five saves.
Hawaii-Hilo (9-17), meanwhile, enters this weekend's series having won six of their last ten after splitting a pair of doubleheaders with Western Illinois and taking four of seven from the Temple Owls. At the plate the Vulcans are led by the bats of Michael Higa (.333, three doubles, three triples, seven RBIs) and Tyler Curtis (.333, three doubles, 11 RBIs, 12 BBs) while on the hill Tyson Usui (2-1, 5.93 ERA) and Vinnie Biggs (2-2, 5.52 ERA) have been the pitching leaders.