March 16, 2007
RIVERSIDE, Calif. - The Bronco baseball team's comeback bid came up just short on Friday night in the opener of its three-game series against UC Riverside. Santa Clara fell behind 9-0, but scored eight runs in the final three innings before falling 11-8 to the Highlanders. Matt Long continued to swing a hot bat, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs but it was not enough for the Broncos. SCU fell to 13-12 on the season while UC Riverside moved to 14-9.
Coming off a series win against Fresno State last weekend, the Broncos could not keep the momentum going early on against the Highlanders. UCR scored three first-inning runs against Bronco starter Nate Garcia. A walk, a single and a double by the Highlanders first three batters put the Broncos in a 2-0 hole right off the bat. Jaime Pedroza knocked in both runs with the double on his way to a five-RBI night. UCR added one more in the inning on an RBI groundout to lead 3-0 after one inning.
Mike Vass led off the bottom of the fourth with a home run and the Highlanders added four more in the frame to stretch the lead to 8-0, knocking Garcia out of the game. UC Riverside pounded six hits in the inning.
After the UCR added a single run in the sixth inning on another double by Pedroza, SCU found itself down 9-0 with just nine outs to go.
Mark O'Brien's squad would not go down without a fight, however, as the Broncos got the comeback started in the seventh inning. Long singled with one out and then stole second base. After moving to third on a groundout, Long scored the team's first run on an RBI single by Ryan Conan.
The Highlanders responded with two more runs to move out to an 11-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh, but the Bronco bats exploded in the eighth to make a game of it. Two pinch hitters got the inning started for SCU, as Nathan Faulkner and Geoff Klein hit back-to-back singles. Faulkner then scored when Jon Karcich reached on an error, leaving runners on the corners with no outs.
Following two strikeouts, the Broncos responded with four runs with two outs. Long singled home Klein and then Gabe Alcantar smacked a double that brought home both Karcich and Long. Carl Bacon got another clutch hit to score Alcantar and cut the deficit to 11-6.
Matt Hiserman pitched a scoreless eighth to give SCU a chance in the ninth and the Broncos nearly got it all back. Klein led off the ninth with his second hit in as many innings and Karcich kept it going with a single of his own. After a wild pitch put runners on second and third with one out, David Hoffmire drove Klein home with a single to left. Long then picked up his second RBI of the night with a sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to three runs.
However, the rally finally died as Alcantar grounded out to end the game.
The Broncos and Highlanders play game two of the series on Saturday, March 17 at 1:00 p.m. PT. Bronco ace Matt Wickswat is scheduled to face Pat Cassa at the Riverside Sports Complex.