Feb. 1, 2007
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara University baseball team opens up the gates of Stephen Schott Stadium for the second full season this Friday night, opening up a three-game set against the Utah Utes with a 6 p.m. contest. After capturing the win in last weekend's finale against Hawaii, the Broncos look to continue their winning ways against the Utes.
About the Broncos
Santa Clara opened up the 2007 season last weekend with a three-game series in Hawaii against the Rainbow Warriors of the University of Hawaii. After dropping the first two contests of the weekend by scores of 8-1 and 5-4, respectively, the Broncos rebounded and averted a sweep with a 3-2 triumph Sunday afternoon. Sophomore transfer Evan LeBlanc enjoyed a stellar debut as a Bronco, batting .700 (7-for-10) over the weekend and reaching base safely in his last 11 plate appearances of the weekend, while Gabe Alcantar got his 2007 season off to a fine start with six hits. Senior Carl Bacon went 3-for-4 Sunday, driving in the game-tying and game-winning runs, while junior reliever Jeff Lombard earned the win with two and a third innings of strong relief, striking out six batters.
Utah (0-0), representing the Mountain West Conference, opens up its 2007 season with this weekend's trip to the South Bay. The Utes went 28-28 in 2006, and finished fourth in the MWC with a 9-13 mark in conference play. Utah, picked to finish sixth in the preseason MWC coaches' poll, is led by 2007 Preseason All-MWC pick John Welsh, who last season batted .326 with 17 doubles, eight home runs, and 41 runs batted in, numbers which earned him 2006 All-MWC First Team honors. The Utes offense is also boosted by 2006 second-team All-MWC pitcher Jay Brossman (.354, 18 doubles, 10 home runs, 57 RBIs).
Straight From the Desert
Sophomore Evan LeBlanc, a transfer from Yavapai Community College in Arizona, wasted no time making his presence felt in the Santa Clara lineup this past weekend, batting an eye-popping .700 (7-for-10) over the three-game set against Hawaii. LeBlanc, a Tucson, Ariz. native, went 2-for-4 in his debut game Friday night, and his singles in his final two at-abts that night started a streak of his reaching base safely in 11 straight plate appearances. That streak remains intact heading into this Friday night's home opener against Utah.
Bacon Sizzles At the Plate
Senior catcher/designated hitter Carl Bacon showed this past weekend why he will be depended on to provide a healthy amount of leadership this season, going 3-for-4 and driving in both the game-tying and game-winning runs in Sunday's 3-2 win over Hawaii. Besides his heroics at the plate, Bacon also managed a strong pitching outing from behind the plate Sunday, as sophomore Justin Kuehn allowed only one earned run and struck out two over six innings before yielding to Jeff Lombard, who picked up the win in relief by allowing only one hit and striking out six ove rthe final two and a third innings.
Heat From the 'Pen
Although the Broncos dropped two of the three games, and the series, against Hawaii last weekend, they received a positive contribution all weekend long from the bullpen. In Sunday's win, Daniel DeMarco, Sean O'Neill, and Jeff Lombard all combined to hold Hawaii scoreles over the final three innings to allow SCU to comeback for the 3-2 win. Lombard was especially effective, striking out six and allowing only one hit in two and a third innings of work. In the previous two contests, the Bronco bullpen got solid efforts from Chris Stansbury, who allowed only one hit and struck out two in an inning and two-thirds Friday, and from freshman Alex Rivers, who allowed only a home run while striking out three batters in three and two-thirds innings of long relief on Saturday.
From Top To Bottom
Santa Clara got positive production from throughout its lineup over the weekend, as leadoff man Kevin Drever batted a solid .455 (5-for-11) over the three games with a double and an RBI, and on the opposite end of the lineup, No. 9 hitter Gabe Alcantar batted .545 (6-for-11) with a pair of doubles. As a whole, the Broncos hit .324 for the weekend, totaling at least 10 hits in each of the three contests, as eight of the nine starters got at least two hits over the entire weekend.