2011 Baseball Season Review
The Santa Clara men's baseball team finished a difficult season at 17-34 overall, with a 4-17 mark in West Coast Conference play. After losing four players, two hitters (RF/C Tommy Medica and C Geoff Klein) and two pitchers (RHP Nate Garcia and RHP Alex Rivers), to the 2010 MLB draft the Broncos had to fill four major holes on the team.
Despite the losses of key players there was reason for optimism coming into the 2011 season. Senior 1B Curtis Wagner had hit .404 as a junior and two returning players, Matt Ozanne and Evan Peters, had been named 2010 All-WCC Honorable Mention.
The season started at South Carolina, the reigning national champions. The Broncos fought hard and nearly took game two of the series by leading for the first four and a half innings, but ultimately fell 2-1. Santa Clara returned home and swept Albany in a four-game series in dominant fashion by outscoring the Dane's 36-14. The Broncos pulled off another four-game sweep against Brown University. Santa Clara scored a season-high 18 runs in the second game of a double-header on March 27. The following day they scored 17 more runs to cap-off the sweep and bring their record above .500 at 11-10. A win against Bakersfield put the Broncos at 12-11, the final time they would be above .500 on the year.
The season was hurt by several key players missing time due to injury. 2B Evan Peters, coming off a season in which he hit .320, played in only six games due to multiple injuries. RHP Thain Simon, a 2009 Freshman All-WCC honoree, missed his second straight season recovering from surgery. Another Bronco who missed significant time was Pat Stover. After appearing in 50 games and hitting .302 with 24 RBI in 2010, Stover only made 12 appearances.
There were, however, several pleasant surprises for Santa Clara in the 2011 season. Freshman 3B/2B Kyle DeMerritt hit well over .300 for most of the year and finished the year at .280 with 27 RBI.
RHP Cory Hall emerged as the ace of the Bronco staff by leading the team in ERA (3.26), wins (4), strikeouts (80) and innings pitched (105.0).
The biggest individual story was RHP J.R. Graham and the number of professional scouts that showed up to watch him pitch. Graham was listed at the 72nd best draft prospect by ESPN's Keith Law on May 12. The right-handers sat in the upper 90's and touched 100 mph on several occasions. His 0.68 walks per nine innings not only led the team but ranked him fourth nationally. Primarily a reliever, head coach Mark O'Brien started Graham in five games to showcase his talents. Graham's season was capped off by being selected in the fourth round, 146th overall, by the Atlanta Braves in the 2011 MLB First Year Player Draft. This was the highest Bronco taken since Randy Winn was taken by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the third round with the 65th overall pick.
Three Santa Clara players received All-WCC honors in 2011 and one received accolades for his performance in the classroom. Cory Hall was named All-WCC first team, Pat Terry was named All-WCC Honorable Mention and Kyle DeMerritt was named to the All-WCC Freshman team. DeMerritt was also named to the Louisville Slugger's Freshman All-American Team on June 8. For the second straight year Curtis Wagner was named to the Capital One Academic All-District Team (formerly ESPN: The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-American).