April 28, 2007

Broncos Come Up Just Short In 7-6 Setback

April 28, 2007

Box Score

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - After being held in check for most of the first six innings Saturday afternoon, the Santa Clara offense awoke and put up a furious rally against Loyola Marymount, pulling to within a run in the seventh, but that was the closest they would come, eventually falling 7-6 to the Lions at Stephen Schott Stadium.

With the loss, the Broncos (21-23, 6-8 WCC) dropped their third consecutive WCC series, and fell a game back of the Lions into fifth place. They will get a chance to avert an LMU sweep in tomorrow's series finale, set for a 1 p.m. start.

Evan LeBlanc hit his second home run of the season Saturday, a three-run job in the seventh that provided what ended up being the final runs of the contest. Ryan Conan also had a pair of hits and drove in a run to continue his strong hitting on the series.

The Broncos struggled early at the plate, failing to get their first hit until there were two outs in the sixth inning. Over that time, the Lions took advantage, scoring five runs on 10 hits against SCU starter Matt Wickswat, who dropped to 6-5 on the year with the loss.

LMU first in the third, as a two-out single up the middle from Michael Glomb scored Eric Farris from third. Bad luck on the Broncos end gave the Lions two more in the fifth, as with runners at the corners and none out, Farris hit a ground ball that took a hard bounce into David Hoffmire's glove at second base. Hoffmire was unable to extricate the ball from his mitt in time, and Farris reached on an infield hit, scoring DeAndre Miller. The Liones got their second run of the inning two batters later, as Wickswat struck Sean Dovel out swinging on a breaking ball in the dirt, but the ball got away, bringing Joe Zeller in from third.

Following two more runs in the sixth that gave LMU a 5-0 lead, the Bronco bats finally came alive against LMU starter and Friday night hero Brian Wilson. Wilson cruised through the first five innings, allowing only two baserunners and not hits to that point, but ran into some trouble.

After walking Matt Long and hitting Tommy Medica with a pitch two batters later, Wilson surrendered SCU's first two hits of the game, RBI singles to Conan and Gabe Alcantar, making it a 5-2 game. But LMU reliever Nate Keadle came on in relief and struck out the next batter to end the threat.

Wilson earned his fourth win of the year with the two-run, two-hit effort, striking out eight SCU batters.

The Lions got the runs back right away in the seventh, as Elvis Herrera left the building with a two-run homer to left-center off of SCU reliever Steve Kalush to rebuild the LMU lead to five at 7-2.

Santa Clara's last best chance came in the seventh, taking advantage of an LMU error to stage a four-run, two-out rally. With Jon Karcich on thanks to the fielding error at shortstop, Long drew his third walk of the game, and LeBlanc woke the crowd up with a three-run shot to left that cut things to 7-5. Consecutive singles from Medica and Conan, followed by a walk to Alcantar, loaded the bases for Carl Bacon, who reached on a second LMU fielding error, this time at first base. The error allowed Medica to score and bring the Broncos to within one, but LMU reliever Xavier Esquivel got out of the frame, striking out Brady Fuerst with the bases loaded.

Santa Clara managed to get a baserunner on in each of the last two innings, but could not advance him past first either time, as Esquivel picked up his first save of the year by allowing no runs on two hits over the final two and a third innings.