By Brandon Rebboah
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Despite amassing 10 hits, Santa Clara (14-22; 2-7) dropped the series-finale to San Francisco 15-4. Chris Mendoza picked up the loss for the Broncos, falling to 2-5 on the season. The Broncos offense was hilighted by Lucas Herbst's two-run homerun in the sixth inning. Matt Hiserman picked up the win for San Francisco (20-20; 7-2). Santa Clara will now return home to host Pacific and Gonzaga next week.
Santa Clara got its offense going early. Justin Viele supplied Santa Clara with its first hit of the game. Kyle DeMerritt singled to left field, advancing Viele to third. Patrick Terry hit a sacrifice fly to score Viele. After half a frame Santa Clara had a 1-0 lead.
Starter Chris Mendoza provided a 1-2-3 inning, striking out the first batter he faced followed by two groundouts.
Drew Ozanne provided a lead off single in the second. With one out, Curtis Wagner singled to left field to put runners on first and second. Despite the early-inning offense the Broncos were unable to extend their lead.
Mendoza surrendered his first hit in the home half of the second. Travis Higgs doubled to put runners on second and third. Nik Balog knocked in two runs with a single to give the Dons a 2-1 lead. Stephen Takahashi helped out Mendoza with an acrobatic, diving grab for the first out of the inning. Artiz Garcia advanced the runner to second with a sacrifice bunt. Mendoza fanned Morioka to end the inning. Entering the third inning, the Broncos trailed by one run.
With one out in the third Viele walked, followed by a DeMerritt single. Patrick Terry hit a blooper to right field to load the bases. Ozanne hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game.
After a leadoff single, Connor Bernatz hit a two-run homerun to put the Dons ahead by two. After a walk and a single, Balog hit a two-RBI double to extend the USF lead. The defense helped Mendoza out of a jam when Wagner snagged a hard-hit ball and tossed it to second for the 3-6 putout. DeMerritt backhanded a ball lined to third and zipped it to first for the third out of the inning.
Curtis Wagner tallied his second single to start the fourth inning. Zach Looney hit a one-out single. Lucas Herbst grounded out, but advanced the runners to second and third. However, a fly ball ended the inning.
Pete Levine singled to start the bottom of the fourth. After Mendoza walked a batter, he was relieved by Jason Westerberg. Westerberg got the first out on a sacrifice bunt that advanced the runners to second and third. DeMerritt tracked down a ball skied in foul territory for the second out. Westerberg hit a batter to load the bases. Balog followed with a two-RBI double to extend the Don's lead to 8-2. Westerberg punched out Ted Lemasters to end the inning.
After a scoreless inning for Santa Clara, Westerberg returned to the mound for the Broncos. He struck out the first batter of the inning. With two outs, Max Deering took the mound for Santa Clara. Lavin hit a two-out double. DeMerritt stopped a line drive, spun and fired to first to end the inning.
The Broncos shortened the USF lead to four. After a quick out, Stephen Takahashi was hit by a pitch. Zach Looney reached on a fielder's choice, with Takahashi being retired at second. Lucas Herbst hit a towering two-run shot to make the score 8-4.
USF extended their lead to 10-4 on RBIs by Higgs and Barry.
The Broncos were not able to muster any runs in the seventh.
With a runner on first and no outs, Deering forced a 4-6-3 double play. A Santa Clara error extended the inning, but Deering induced a fly ball to escape without allowing a run.
With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Deering was lifted in favor of Joe Supple. Supple got a quick out, before surrendering five runs. Paul Twining entered the game to record the final out of the inning.
The Broncos fell by a final of 15-4. Santa Clara will return to Stephen Schott Stadium to host Pacific on Tues., Apr. 26 in a mid-week game. The Broncos continue WCC action next weekend, hosting Gonzaga with the series opener Fri., Apr. 29.
Game Notes: First pitch was thrown at 1:03...Drew Ozanne made his first start as a defensive player, before today all his starts (13) were as the DH… Mendoza pitched 3.0 innings, allowing eight runs on seven hits.