April 13, 2007
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara baseball team dropped a tough 3-2 decision to the Gonzaga Bulldogs in West Coast Conference action on Friday night at Stephen Schott Stadium. Despite a 13-strikeout performance by freshman Nate Garcia, the Broncos (17-18, 4-3 WCC) could not pull out a victory. Ryan Conan hit his team-leading fifth home run of the season and Jon Karcich added three hits in a losing effort SCU. A three-run home run by Mike Terry in the top of the seventh were all the runs that Gonzaga would need.
Garcia had a tough start to the game, allowing two first-inning singles and going to a 3-0 count on the Bulldogs (22-16, 5-2 WCC) cleanup hitter Ryan Wiegand. However, Garcia recovered to strike out Wiegand and then escape the jam.
After a second inning single, Garcia found his groove, facing the minimum 12 batters from the third through the sixth inning. In that stretch, the Bellarmine Prep grad struck out nine consecutive batters. Four of the Bulldogs went down looking as Garcia had his curveball working.
The Bronco bats came through for single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to give the home team a 2-0 edge. In the fifth, Evan LeBlanc led off the inning with a double down the left field line and he moved to third on a groudout by Patrick Glenn. Freshman Jon Karcich then knocked a double down the line to bring LeBlanc home and get SCU on the board. After a Matt Long single put runners on the corners, the Bulldogs escaped further damage when Gabe Alcantar flew out to center field.
Santa Clara appeared ready to break the game open in the bottom of the sixth. Conan led off with a towering home run to dead center field to put SCU up 2-0. It was Conan's team-leading 37th RBI of the season. Carl Bacon and David Hoffmire followed with singles and they both moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by LeBlanc. However, Bulldogs pitcher Josh Monroe snuck out of the jam, striking out Glenn and getting Karcich to ground out to end the inning.
In the top of the seventh, Garcia had his string of nine straight strikeouts snapped with a lead-off walk to Wiegand. However, he bounced back to strike out the next batter and then he retired Aaron McGuinness on a fly ball to left field.
Garcia's magic would then run out. Following a single to left by Shawn Wayt to put runners at first and second, Terry delivered the crushing blow with a deep home run to left center field for a 3-2 Bulldogs lead. The home run came on a 3-2 pitch from Garcia. He did finish the inning with one last strikeout to finish the night with a team season high 13. Matt Wickswat held the previous high, having twice notched 10 strikeouts this season.
SCU could not muster any offense against Gonzaga reliever Jeremy Stumetz, who pitched three innings of one-hit ball to earn the save. He allowed only a two-out single to Karcich in the ninth. Tommy Medica flew out to center to end the game following Karcich's single.
The Broncos and the Bulldogs continue the series on Saturday, April 14 at 1 p.m. PT at Schott Stadium.