Santa Clara Opens WCC Play With Doubleheader Split
April 1, 2006
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The clouds parted and the sun made an appearance over Stephen Schott Stadium Saturday afternoon as the Santa Clara University baseball team battled the San Francisco Dons in doubleheader action. The teams split today's two games as USF captured the opener, 6-2, while the Broncos battled back to take the nightcap with a 4-3 triumph.
The two squads will return to the diamond tomorrow afternoon at 12 noon for the rubber game. The contest's start time has been moved up an hour in order to avoid forecasted showers.
Santa Clara (17-12, 1-1 WCC) suffered a couple of defensive lapses in game one which allowed San Francisco (18-13, 1-1 WCC) to take a 6-1 lead after the sixth inning. The Dons got a complete-game effort from pitcher Scott Cousins, who struck out seven and allowed only two runs while also going 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI from the plate.
USF took a 1-0 lead in the second but the Broncos answered right away in the bottom half of the inning when the first of Brady Fuerst's three hits drove home Eric Newton. But the Dons scored the next five runs of the contest, and although Newton blasted his seventh home run of the season in the bottom of the sixth, the Broncos could not bounce back and dropped the first game.
Things looked better for SCU in the nightcap as Ryan Conan and Matt Long started the bottom of the fifth with walks in a scoreless game. Two batters later, Fuerst broke the scoreless tie with an RBI single and then helped the Broncos score their second run of the inning as his hustle foiled a potential USF double-play when he beat the throw to second on Jason Matteucci's grounder, which allowed Long to score from third.
Long added an RBI single in the sixth, through which point SCU starter Justin Kuehn was plowing through the USF lineup, having allowed only three hits up to that point. But facing USF's Lucas DeLong with one out and one on in a 3-1 game, the Bronco defense misplayed a foul pop which could have been the second out of the inning. Instead, DeLong made the most of his reprieve and tied the game at three-apiece on the next pitch with a two-run shot over the left-center field fence.
Reliever Daniel DeMarco picked up Kuehn at this point, retiring the Dons to end the seventh and then getting out of a jam in the eighth where San Francisco had runners at the corners with only one out. DeMarco responded by striking out pinch-hitter Chris Baligalupi and getting Zach Kim to fly out to center to end the threat.
After Mark Willinsky retired the side in order in the top of the ninth, Santa Clara came through in the ninth as consecutive singles by Jason Matteucci and Daniel Nava loaded the bases with Fuerst on third. After Gabriel Alcantar worked the count to 3-1 against Dons reliever Jeff Gordon, the next pitch was low and Fuerst was forced in with the winning run.
Alcantar was 1-for-2 in the contest, also hitting his seventh double of the year, while Long went 2-for-3 with an RBI.