March 5, 2011

Santa Clara Edges No. 30 San Jose State, 3-2

SANTA CLARA, Calif. –   The Santa Clara baseball team (5-5) bumped back up to .500 with a 3-2 win over No. 30 San Jose State (8-2) this afternoon at Schott Stadium.  With the victory, the Broncos remained a perfect 5-0 in home games this season.

Senior Saturday starter Cory Hall earned the win, improving to 2-1 on the season while junior J.R. Graham grabbed his first save of the year.  Spartan pitcher Roberto Padilla pitched a complete game and fell to 2-1 with the loss despite all three Bronco runs being unearned.  Padilla only surrendered four hits and struck out seven batters.

"They're a good team so any time you can beat a good team that's big for us," said head coach Mark O'Brien. "We lost a tough one last night, but we came back and beat a good pitcher today."

Santa Clara took a three-run lead in the bottom of the fourth inning after loading the bases with one out on the board.  Quinton Perry was unable to score any of the runners, going down swinging in his at-bat, but junior Lucas Herbst crushed a ball to right center and was about a foot short of the hitting a grand slam.  Herbst had to settle for a three-RBI double and was thrown out on his way to third to end the inning.  All three runs were unearned due to catcher's interference earlier in the inning.

"Lucas had a big swing of the bat for us and allowed us to score some runs," said O'Brien.  "We stayed present and took care of the task at hand."

In the top of the fifth, San Jose State had runners on the corners with two outs, but Hall got out of the inning with a fly out to right field, stranding two of the Spartans' seven runners left on base in the game.

In the top of the seventh inning, the Spartans recouped two runs on a bases-loaded single to left field from Jake Valdez to make it 3-2 in favor of the Broncos.  That play ended Hall's day as junior J.R. Graham came in relief and struck out Matt Lopez to get out of the inning with runners on second and third.  Hall finished the day with two strikeouts and conceded two runs on seven hits.

"I've pitched in that situation before so it wasn't any different," said Graham.  "This is the situation I love going into."

The 3-2 score would stick through the end of the game as Graham pitched a 2.1 hitless innings and struck out three of his seven batters faced.  Two strikeouts came in the top of the ninth inning.

Freshman Kyle DeMerritt continued his consistent play at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a single and a double. The rookie was also perfect in the field, registering eight assists and one putout. Herbst, who had three RBIs, and sophomore Blake Leyva also notched hits for Santa Clara.

"We just have to play the game the right way tomorrow," said O'Brien.  "We have to battle and put the ball in play with two strikes."

The Broncos will head back to San Jose State tomorrow for the final game of the series.  The game is slated for 1 p.m. at Municipal Stadium in San Jose.

Game Notes:  Freshman Kyle DeMerritt hit his fourth double of the season and is now tied with sophomore Matt Ozanne for the team lead … Starting pitcher Cory Hall threw a six-pitch second inning ... DeMerritt made two exceptional diving stops in the fourth and fifth innings to save two hits.