March 27, 2007

Bronco Baseball Begins WCC Play In Portland

March 27, 2007

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara baseball team (13-14) heads to the Pacific Northwest this weekend to begin West Coast Conference play with a three-game series against the Portland Pilots. This weekend also marks the halfway point of SCU's season-long 13-game road swing, as the team will look to make a successful start to the WCC season on the road.

About the Broncos
Santa Clara hit a bump in the second weekend of its season-long 13-game road trip last weekend, suffering a three-game sweep at the hands of the UC Riverside Highlanders. The Broncos were outscored 38-15 over the three games. But SCU did get some solid offensive performances over the weekend, as Gabe Alcantar, the team's leading hitter, raised his average back up over the .400 mark to .406 by going 6-for-13 (.462) on the weekend. He also had four doubles to bring his team-leading total to 12 on the year. Carl Bacon continued his career year by batting .429 (6-for-14) over the weekend to raise his average to .359 on the year. Evan LeBlanc, meanwhile, hit his first home run as a Bronco and batted .333 (4-for-12) over the weekend.

About Portland
Portland (11-12) heads into WCC play this weekend following a Wednesday afternoon contest against Linfield. Last weekend, the Pilots dropped two out of three from Dallas Baptist, losing the series opener, 13-2, before getting a doubleheader split against the Patriots on Friday. On the year, the Pilots are led offensively by Chase Powell, who is batting .318 with a homer and nine runs scored, as well as Justin Pierce's .292 average, team-leading four home runs, and 11 RBIs. On the mound, Given Kutz leads the staff with a 4-2 record and 3.33 ERA.

Pounding the Rawhide
Junior 1B/3B Gabe Alcantar continued his breakout year this past weekend, batting .462 (6-for-14) against UC Riverside to raise his team-leading batting average to .406 on the year. Alcantar also banged out four doubles to bring his total on the year to 12. So far he is second in the WCC in batting, and leads the loop in doubles.

Call the Utility Man
Whether behind the plate or serving in the designated hitter's role, senior Carl Bacon is enjoying a career year in 2007, batting .359 with 37 hits and 16 RBIs. Bacon had six hits, a double, and a pair of RBIs last weekend in Riverside, and continues to be a productive presence in the middle of the Bronco lineup. His .359 average ranks 10th in the WCC, and is one hit and one doubles shy of the conference's top 10 in each category.

Pluggin' Along
Sophomore centerfielder Matt Long continues to put up solid numbers for the Broncos, batting .353 with 36 hits and four doubles on the year heading into West Coast Conference play. Last weekend, Long batted .333 (4-for-12) over the three games in Riverside, and on the year has also driven in 12 runs and hit his first collegiate home run.

Controlling the Hill
Ace of the staff Matt Wickswat is following his stellar 2006 campaign with another good season, so far holding a 4-3 record and 4.15 ERA. Despite a somewhat rocky outing last weekend in Riverside, Wickswat has been the anchor of the Santa Clara staff, leading the team in wins, innings pitched (43.1) and strikeouts (35), while leading all SCU starters with a 4.15 ERA.

"LeBlasting" the Homer
This past weekend saw another Bronco hit his first home run in a Santa Clara uniform, as sophomore left-fielder Evan LeBlanc blasted a homer against UC Riverside. LeBlanc, a transfer from Yavapai City College in Arizona, has already made a mark on the SCU lineup this season, taking over the left-fielder duties and also currently ranking fourth on the team with a .342 batting average. LeBlanc also has 27 hits, four doubles, and has driven in eight runs on the year.

Sealing the Deal
Another hurler who has starred on the mound this season is closer Jeff Lombard. With 14 mound appearances under his belt, Lombard holds a 2-1 record and 2.21 ERA to go with a team-leading four saves, which is also tied for fourth in the WCC. The junior reliever has also demonstarted his ability to dominate hitters, striking out 25 batters in only 20.1 innings of work.

SCU Offers Live Web Coverage of Home Games
When the Santa Clara baseball program moved into Stephen Schott Stadium, the multimedia coverage on www.santaclarabroncos.com increased. Bronco fans can listen to the WCC action live on Broncos All-Access, and as always, all Bronco baseball games will also be covered on Gametracker.

2007 Freshman Class Noted Among the Nation's Best
The Santa Clara University baseball program received an accolade from the Collegiate Baseball newspaper as the Broncos' 2006 recruiting class was named on of the Top-40 classes in the nation, coming in at No. 28, tops among West Coast Conference schools. The members of this class, who are currently in their first year on the Mission Campus, will look this spring to help lead the squad to its first WCC title since 1997.

Of the freshman class in 2007, Nathan Garcia (Bellarmine College Prep), Patrick Glenn (Amador Valley HS), Matthew Hiserman (Capistrano Valley HS), Steven Kalush (Aragon HS), Jon Karcich (Serra HS), Geoffrey Klein (Ocean View HS), Tommy Medica (Bellarmine College Prep), Alex Rivers (Tokay HS) and Dylan Slocum (Paloma Valley HS) make up the California contingent. Tayler Thomas (Salpointe Catholic HS) hails from Arizona and Jeremy Zink (Garfield HS) will come to the Mission Campus from the state of Washington.

Four Broncos Named to All-WCC 40th Anniversary Team
The West Coast Conference announced its 40th Anniversary Baseball Team in early January, and four Broncos were named to the 40-man squad. LHP Rich Troedson (1969-72), catcher Troy Buckley (1987-89), RHP Bob Pailthorpe (1992-95), and outfielder Mike Frank (1994-97) were all honored for their achievements on the diamond.

SCU Baseball Picked to Finish Sixth in WCC Preseason Poll
The Santa Clara baseball team was selected to finished sixth in the West Coast Conference in the 2007 WCC preseason poll, as selected by the conference coaches. The Broncos were picked to finished behind Pepperdine, San Diego, San Francisco, LMU and Gonzaga. Santa Clara claimed the sixth position with 18 total points.