April 1, 2007
PORTLAND, Ore. - The Santa Clara baseball team turned in a strong finish to the opening series of the West Coast Conference season, defeating the Portland Pilots 6-3 in the rubber game on Sunday to capture the three-game set. SCU's five runs over the second and third innings opened up a lead that proved insurmountable for the Pilots.
SCU (15-15, 2-1) will return to action Tuesday night in a 6 p.m. non-conference battle against the San Jose State Spartans at San Jose Municipal Stadium. The contest is a make-up for the postponed March 2 game, and with the season series tied at one game apiece, Tuesday's victor will capture the three Rivalry Series points at stake. The Broncos will then return to WCC action Thursday night, starting a three-game set against the San Francisco Dons with a 3 p.m. contest at Benedetti Field.
The Broncos struck quickly against the Pilots Sunday, taking advantage of three consecutive errors in the second inning to plate four runs. After Bacon led the inning of with a single to left, Hoffmire, Karcich, and Kevin Madden all reached base on errors, two of those by Pilots starting pitcher Ari Ronick, who suffered his fourth loss of the season in the contest.
Hoffmire reached on third baseman Jesse Rodgers' throwing error on a sacrifice bunt, while Karcich's ground ball was misplayed by Ronick, allowing Bacon to score the game's first run. Madden attempted to bunt his way on, and reached when Ronick made an errant throw to first, scoring Hoffmire. Karcich and Madden then came across on bunts by Tommy Medica and Matt Long.
Another Pilot error in the third gave SCU its fifth run of the game, as Evan LeBlanc reached on Rodgers' second error. After being sacrificed to second by Bacon and then stealing third, LeBlanc scored on Hoffmire's bunt single.
This was all the help starter Donald Brandt needed, as the lefty went five innings, allowing only five hits and two earned runs to earn his third win of the season.
Portland got an unearned run in the third on a sacrifice fly by Justin Pierce, and added their second run on a Rodgers sacrifice fly in the fifth which scored Danny Meier. After Pierce scored on Chase Powell's fielder's choice to cut the SCU lead to 5-3 in the sixth, Brandt was relieved by Steve Kalush, who shut the Pilots down the rest of the way, picking up his second save of the year with four shutout innings out of the bullpen.
Santa Clara tacked on an insurance run in the eighth as Karcich's single up the middle brought in Nathan Faulkner, who came on to pinch run after Bacon drew a walk.