April 27, 2007

Ninth-Inning Homer Sends Broncos To 5-4 Loss

April 27, 2007

Box Score

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - For a few moments it appeared that, despite four errors and three unearned runs given up earlier in the game, the Santa Clara baseball team would still manage to come away with a win in Friday night's series opener against Loyola Marymount at Stephen Schott Stadium. But it was not meant to be, as a ninth-inning home run put the Lions ahead for good and the Broncos suffered a heartbreaking 5-4 loss.

The Broncos (21-22, 6-7 WCC) return to action Saturday afternoon, continuing the series against the Lions with a 1 p.m. contest. The series will conclude with Sunday's game at 1 p.m.

Freshman Nate Garcia turned in a fine effort Friday night, allowing only four hits and striking out seven, and not allowing an earned run over six and two-thirds innings. Yet the SCU defense committed four errors in the field, leading to three LMU runs and twice allowing the Lions to pull even over the first seven innings.

Ryan Conan went 3-for-4 with two RBIs, as well as a double and his eighth home run of the year, a solo job in the eighth that gave the Broncos a 4-3 lead. Carl Bacon and David Hoffmire also drove in runs for Santa Clara.

But LMU's Brian Wilson took center stage on this night, hitting the deciding two-run, pinch-hit homer that put LMU ahead 4-3 in the ninth after a one-out walk to pinch-hitter Brett Mendoza, then holding the Broncos scoreless in their half of the ninth to earn his second save of the year.

SCU closer Jeff Lombard, who came on in the ninth looking to become only the third Broncos pitcher to reach 10 saves in a season, instead was charged with his third loss of the year after giving up Wilson's home run.

Santa Clara took advantage of an LMU error in the first, as after Ryan Conan's two-out RBI single, Gabe Alcantar reached on a throwing error by LMU third baseman Michael Glomb , which put Conan and Alcantar in scoring position. Conan scored right away on Carl Bacon's infield single to give SCU the early 2-0 lead.

Yet with one on and one out in the top of the third, the Lions capitalized on consecutive Bronco fielding errors to get their first run across, and then got a sacrifice fly from Elvis Herrera that tied the game at 2-2.

The Broncos got another unearned run in the sixth to go up 3-2, as Tommy Medica reached on an error to open the inning, and eventually scored on a two-out, bases-loaded walk to Hoffmire. Yet right away in the seventh, the SCU defense gave the run right back, as a two-out fielding error by Jon Karcich at shortstop allowed Ryan Wheeler to score from second with the tying run.

Santa Clara got new life when Conan crushed a leadoff home run over the batting cages in left-center field in the eighth inning, but LMU reliever Nate Keadle came in and retired the next three batters, and after Wilson's homer and subsequent save, earned his third win of the year.