Feb. 6, 2007
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Things continued to fall into place for the Santa Clara baseball team Tuesday night, as timely hitting, patience at the plate, and clutch pitching worked in cohesive fashion. These elements set the stage for the Broncos to score the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth for their fourth straight win, a 7-6 triumph over the UC Davis Aggies at Schott Stadium.
SCU (5-2) will now hot the road this weekend, traveling to Southern California to battle the San Diego State Aztecs in a three-game series. Friday's contest is set for a 6 p.m. first pitch, while Saturday and Sunday's games will get underway at 1 p.m.
"I was really pleased with the guys coming back from behind like they did, especially because they did it later in the game, which shows how much heart there is on this team," said head coach Mark O'Brien. "They kept their heads up, put the ball in play with two strikes and hit solid line drives, that's what you have to do."
Matt Long went 3-for-5 for the Broncos Tuesday night, while freshman Jon Karcich hit his first collegiate home run and drove in a pair of runs while scoring three. Gabe Alcantar continued his hot start to the 2007 season by stroking a pair of hits, including a fourth-inning triple. Freshman Tommy Medica provided the game-winning hit, lashing a line drive down the left-field line to plate Karcich with the deciding run.
On the hill, Jeff Lombard earned his second win of the season, working the final two-thirds of the ninth as he induced a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of the Aggies' Aaron Hanke to end a two-on, one-out threat.
"Jeff has a lot of confidence right now and that's because he's doing everything he needs to do to be successful," said O'Brien. "His fastball is down and he is using his secondary pitches at will."
Steve Kalush worked two scoreless innings of relief, striking out three to bolster the SCU bullpen's effort.
UC Davis got on the board first, as a couple of singles and a walk loaded the bases with one out for Michael Hernandez, who cleared the sacks with a line-drive double to left-center. SCU starter Donald Brandt calmed down after that opening flurry, though, giving up only one more run in the third before ending his night with a 1-2-3 fourth inning.
After manufacturing a run in the second, the Broncos cut things to one in the fourth, as Karcich led things off with a towering drive that cleared the left-field wall for his, and the team's, first home run of the season. Alcantar followed with a tailing line drive to right that a diving Hanke could not come up with, and ended up with a stand-up triple. Kevin Drever's first sacrifice fly of the night plated Alcantar in the next at-bat.
While the Aggies answered with a run right away to up the lead to 5-3, the Broncos responded in the seventh, scoring three times without a single hit as they used patience, heads-up baserunning, and a little bit of luck to grab their first lead. After Nathan Faulkner reached on an error to start the inning, David Hoffmire and Karcich walked to load the bases, then they all advanced a base on Trevor Fox's wild pitch, making it a 5-4 game.
With Alcantar intentionally walked to re-load the bases, Fox committed a balk to bring in the tying run, before Drever hit another sacrifice fly to score Alcantar with the go-ahead run and a 6-5 lead.
But UC Davis answered again in their next time up, with a two-out RBI double to left-center by Jacob Jeffries.
That just set the stage for Lombard and the Broncos. After Lombard got out of the ninth with the double play ball, SCU used a lead-off single from Hoffmire and walks to Karcich and Alcantar to load the bases once more. After a fielder's choice, Medica ripped into a Nik Aurora offering, scoring Karcich and delivering SCU's fourth straight win.