April 8, 2006
SPOKANE, Calif. - In danger of falling three games below .500 in the WCC standings, the Santa Clara University baseball team knew it was gut-check time Saturday afternoon. Down four runs in the ninth against the Gonzaga Bulldogs, the Broncos answered the call by exploding for five runs and dealing the Zags their first conference loss en route to a dramatic 7-6 victory in Spokane.
The teams managed to get today's game in despite rain and ominous weather which forced first pitch to be pushed back to 3 p.m. Following today's SCU win, the teams will return to Avista Stadium for tomorrow's rubber game at 1 p.m.
Eight of the nine starters for the Broncos (19-14, 2-3 WCC) had a hit, highlighted by Eric Newton's 2-for-5 performance with two home runs and two RBIs. Kevin Drever had three hits, including a two-out single in the ninth that drove in the game's deciding run. Matt Long also notched three hits while Kris Watts and Daniel Nava each had multi-hit games.
Jeff Lombard shut the Zags (22-11, 4-1 WCC) down over two innings of relief to earn his first win of the season and even his record at 1-1. Mark Willinsky earned his sixth save after getting Gonzaga's Bobby Carlson to groundout to short with the winning run on second base.
Santa Clara struck first Saturday as Newton drove a Patrick Donovan offering over the fence in left-center to open up the scoring in the first. But the Zags answered with a pair of runs in their half of the first, sparked by a lead-off homer from Jackson Brennan.
After the Broncos battled back to even things up at 2-2 in the third, the Bulldogs got to SCU starter Justin Kuehn for two runs in the fourth and sixth innings. Brennan struck again with an RBI double in the fourth and a passed ball in the sixth allowed another run to come across.
But after being shutout the previous five frames, the Broncos answered immediately in the ninth as Newton led things off with his ninth homer of the year. Jason Matteucci followed with a single and was driven in by Nava's double. Nava was subsequently brought home by Watts' single to right.
With one out, Long singled and pinch-hitter Carl Bacon, representing the go-ahead run, walked to load the bases. Gabriel Alcantar's sacrifice fly to right plated Watts to tie the game, and at the top of the lineup, Drever came through with an opposite-field base hit to put SCU ahead by a run.
Willinsky's sixth save didn't come easily, as after retiring the first two batters, a single and a walk followed by a wild pitch put the tying and winning runs on second and third for Carlson. But Carlson's grounder to short was handled by Michael Lange and the Broncos evened the series at a game apiece.