May 11, 2006
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Heading into its final home and WCC series of the 2006 season, the Santa Clara University baseball team will be looking to end its current five-game slide and send seven seniors of on a winning note in their final home contests. The chance to get back in the win column presents itself this weekend as the Broncos host the Portland Pilots in a three-game set at Stephen Schott Stadium.
Friday night's series opener will get underway at 7 p.m. while Saturday and Sunday's contests are slated for a 1 p.m. first pitch. Tickets are available by calling (408) 554-4660 or by visiting the Leavey Center ticket office.
Santa Clara (26-24, 7-11 WCC) has dropped its last five, suffering a three-game sweep last weekend at WCC foe San Diego before dropping an 8-4, 15-inning marathon against Stanford Tuesday night and a 6-0 decision Wednesday at California.
This weekend's series also marks the final home games for seven Bronco seniors: second baseman/designated hitter Kevin Drever, shortstop Michael Lange, outfielder Jason Matteucci, outfielder Daniel Nava, second baseman Eric Newton, third baseman Dustin Realini and catcher Kris Watts. All have contributed a great deal to the re-emergence of the Bronco Baseball program and will be honored prior to Sunday's contest.
Matteucci, Lange and Newton have spent their entire collegiate careers on the Mission Campus, leaving their marks on the program in their four years. Matteucci already sits in SCU's top 10 in at-bats, currently sitting ninth all-time with 721. His 214 hits are only seven away from the No. 10 spot on SCU's all-time hits list.
Newton's 25 home runs are tied for ninth all-time with John Boccabella (1961-63) in the SCU books and he currently leads the WCC with 13 home runs. He also provided some of the most memorable hits in recent years, as in 2005 his two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth against San Francisco gave the Broncos a dramatic 2-1 win while the following night his game-winning, RBI single in the 13th inning lifted Santa Clara to a 6-5 victory over Stanford.
Lange earned the starting shortstop job in his freshman year at SCU, starting 49 of 51 games in his rookie campaign. Throughout his four years he has been one of Santa Clara's defensive rocks, starting 116 games thus far in his SCU career.
Drever joined the Broncos in 2004 after spending his freshman season at the University of Hawaii-Hilo. Although the Salinas native only saw action on five games that year, he stepped up in 2005, starting 40 of 47 games and batting .327 on the season and earning first-team All-WCC honors. This season, Drever's consistency has continued as he has alternated between playing second base and designated hitter, batting .291 so far with 48 hits and six doubles.
Realini also came to the Mission Campus as a sophomore in 2004, in this case from Washington State. He has held the starting third base job since his first game at SCU, but lately has moved across the diamond to first. In only two-plus seasons, the Cupertino native has amassed 151 hits and .298 average.
Starting backstop Watts, also known as "Bubba" to his teammates and the Bronco faithful, has made a distinctive mark as one of Santa Clara's top catchers in only two seasons. He spent his first two years at Ohlone College in Fremont before joining the SCU program. In his second season, Watts has started 102 contests, including all 50 so far in 2006. The Fremont native has also hit for a career average of .311 with 21 doubles, 14 home runs and 83 RBIs thus far at Santa Clara.
Last but certainly not least for the seniors is Daniel Nava, the perfect example of perseverance and dedication to Santa Clara Baseball. After initially coming to Santa Clara as a freshman in fall 2001 and being cut from the baseball team, Nava served as the team's manager and continued improving all facets of his game while fulfilling his managerial duties.
But with the itch to play D-I ball, Nava left SCU and played two years of junior college ball at College of San Mateo, putting together a pair of impressive seasons which culminated in him being named a Junior College All-American in 2005.
Returning to the Mission Campus in 2006, Nava became the team's starting leftfielder and has started 49 of the team's 50 games. He leads the West Coast Conference with a .381 average and also paces the Broncos with 69 hits, four triples and a .484 on-base percentage.
The Portland Pilots (14-31, 2-13 WCC) are coming off of a two-game split with the University of Washington earlier this week, as they dropped the first game 8-1 before coming back on Tuesday with a 7-6 victory. The Pilots are led offensively by Matthew Peters (.342, 11 doubles, six homers, 39 RBIs) and Danny Meier (.315, 12 doubles, eight homers, 26 RBIs) while on the hill, Ari Ronick and Sean Sargent lead the staff with three wins apiece.