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SANTA CLARA, Calif. - With a 6-2 mark on the 2012 season, Santa Clara baseball will look to continue playing good baseball. The Broncos will host Nevada in a midweek game on Tue., Feb. 28 and then take on local rival San Jose State over the weekend with games Fri. and Sun. at Stephen Schott and the Sat. game at San Jose State.
Last week the Broncos beat Cal Poly on the road on Feb. 21 and split a four-game series with Illinois-Chicago over the weekend.
Fans should keep an eye on SantaClaraBroncos.com, @SCUBroncos and @SCU_Baseball on twitter or the athletics Facebook fan page for in game updates.
Twin brothers OF Matt Ozanne and 3B/DH Drew Ozanne look to continue to produce offensively for the Broncos in 2012. Matt started 45 games last season and lead the team with 10 stolen bases and added 22 RBI. He has appeared in five games, making three starts, in 2012. Drew started 29 games, appearing in 37. He had 16 RBI on the season, including a walk-off RBI single against Bakersfield. The brothers batted back-to-back in the lineup three times last season and look to anchor the offense in 2012. He has made three appearences.
NO SOPHOMORE SLUMP FOR DEMERRITT
Coming off of a spectacular rookie season for the Broncos, Kyle DeMerritt has been hard at work preparing for the 2012 season. He spent time over the summer in the very competitive Northwest League in Wausau, Wisc. where he was a member of the Wisconsin Woodchucks.
"Summer ball plain and simple is a blast," said DeMerritt. "I was given the opportunity to play out of state for two and a half months against players from all around the country. We get fed and housed and our job is to play baseball every day... it doesn't get much better. However, we play 70 games in 75 days which was a grind that really humbled me and allowed me to realize what the next level (professional ball) is all about. On the baseball side I had both success and failures and the competition I faced really helped me mature as a ball player. Lastly, I was fortunate to have an amazing host family and stay in a town where our team was highly regarded. It was awesome playing for the people out there."
Now DeMerritt and his teammates are hard at work trying to become a unit on the field. Coach O'Brien stresses the importance of team chemistry and with DeMerritt as one of the top returners he will be looked upon for a larger leadership role.
Eight select Bronco baseball games, four non-conference and four conference, in 2012 will be called on the Broncos' online Game Central via Stretch internet, for the first time since 2010. All eight broadcast will be done by a two-man student broadcast affiliated with Santa Clara's athletic department. The crew includes John Nash , a junior on the Santa Clara men's water polo team and an Athletic Department student employee, and Brandon Rebboah, also an Athletic Department student employee. In addition to the eight broadcasted games, all home games will have free video streaming via Game Central.
"We're excited to have two passionate and talented Santa Clara students broadcast our games once again. We want people to fall in love with Bronco baseball and who better to help us do that than these two outstanding young men," said O'Brien about the radio broadcasts.
NEARLY SELLING OUT
One of the goals baseball head coach Dan O'Brien had when he started was to get as many people into Schott Stadium for the home-opener on Feb. 24 as possible. While the stadium was not sold out, it was close. A total of 1,273 spectators came to watch the Broncos take on Illinois-Chicago and push their record to 5-0.
Some of the attractions included fresh popcorn being popped around the stadium, games for children on the concourse and of course, the Bronco baseball team in their old-school baggy uniforms.
"The atmosphere tonight was electric and I'm just so thrilled that the Santa Clara community came out to support us," said O'Brien after the win. "For their support, we promise to give our Bronco faithful a passionate and energetic effort between the lines the entire season. They will be proud of how our team competes and can be excited for an aggressive and fun style of baseball when the Broncos take the field."
The 5-0 mark the Broncos posted to open the season was the best start for the team since the 2008 season when it also went 5-0. That team took down Utah Valley, Kansas State, Pacific and San Jose State in its first five games. They won games by scores of 12-1,7-2, 9-2, 15-6 and 7-6 before finally falling at San Jose State 10-9.
The 2008 squad opened the season with a mark of 9-1 and finished the season with an overall record of 33-22. That season the Broncos finished third in the West Coast Conference with a 13-8 record in league play.
With the 2012 edition of Bronco baseball sitting at 6-2 through the first two weeks of the season, the best start since that 2008 team, the feeling arond the team is that they can compete with anybody.
"We have the talent on the roster to compete in the West Coast Conference this year but we need to come together as a team," said O'Brien. "The college model is all about team, it's all about the guy to your left and to your right and that's where we're going to spend a lot of our time. Our team chemistry is going to be as strong, if not stronger, than anybody in the country. That college model is going to be in the heart of everything we do."
BEATING QUALITY OPPONENTS
Santa Clara isn't just beating up on weak teams in the early part of the 2012 season. So far they have defeated No. 35 Texas State, No. 37 Wichita State and a Cal Poly team whose only loss was a 5-2 defeat at the hands of the visiting Broncos.
Cal Poly started the season by sweeping Oklahoma State by finals of 6-0, 11-3 and 6-0. After the Mustangs' loss to Santa Clara, they took on Loyola Marymount, picked to finish fourth in the West Coast Conference, in Los Angeles. Cal Poly left town with a four-game sweep of the Broncos' conference rival.
Junior RHP Tommy Nance (1-0; 4.02) has lived up to the title of Friday night starter in his first two Division I starts. Against Illinois-Chicago on Feb. 24, the Broncos home-opener, he handcuffed the Flames in 7.2 innings. He allowed two runs, one earned, on five hits and three walks while striking out eight.
Despite not having a win yet, RHP Brock Simon (0-0; 2.08) has been terrific in two starts in 2012. He has pitched 13.0 innings and struck out 11 while walking three. Opponents are hitting .205 against him.
RHP Paul Twining (2-1; 2.16) has been the top bullpen arm thus far for Coach O'Brien. Twining has made five appearences to lead the team and struck out nine batters in 8.1 innings. He also leads the team with two saves.
OF Lucas Herbst and OF Pat Stover have paced the Broncos on offense through two weeks of games. Herbst leads the team with .459 batting average (17-37) while Stover is second with a .359 (14-39) mark. Herbst has scored 14 runs and added eight RBI while hitting three doubles and two triples. With two walks and four HBP, his on-base percentage stands at an eye-popping .535 which has helped him steal two bases. Stover is tied for the team lead with eight RBI and has also scored nine runs. He has two doubles and one of two Bronco home runs. He is tied for the team lead with three stolen bases and has yet to be caught.
Others doing well incldude 1B Andrew Biancardi who has a home run and a double while adding seven RBI and scoring five runs. Freshman DH/1B T.J. Braff is coming up big in his first season, as he has five RBI, tied for fourth-best on the team. 2B Evan Peters hit a big triple against Illinois-Chicago on Feb. 26 to help Santa Clara come back from five runs down late in the game.
The Wolfpack have a record of 5-2 in 2012 with wins over Utah Vally, San Francisco and New Mexico have three batters hitting .400 or better through the team's first seven games, sporting a 5-2 record. 1B Brett Jones (.448) leads the team and has four doubles and four RBI. 1B Kewby Meyer (.409) has scored two runs and knocked in four while IF Joe Kohan (.400) has scored seven runs and also has four RBI. SS Kyle Hunt leads the team with five RBI and is 4-4 on stolen bases. 3B/1B Austin Byler has hit the only home run of the season for Nevada.
On the mound RHP Braden Shipley (2-0; 0.00) is unscored upon in two starts spanning 11.0 innings. He has struck out 16 batters and surrendered just five hits. LHP Tyler Wells (1-0; 1.74) has also made two starts and while he is yet to lose, he has walked eight and struck out just four. RHP Matt Gardner (0-0; 2.08) has been Nevada's ace reliever, picking up three saves in four games. He has struck out six in 4.1 innings.
SAN JOSE STATE
San Jose state is 1-6 so far in 2012, with its lone win coming at San Francisco. OF Andre Mercurio has been the best Spartan hitter in 2012. He is 9-21, good for a .429 average. He does not have an extra-base hit but has scored three runs and has one RBI. IF Caleb Natov leads the team with four RBI and has added a double in his 17 at-bats. OF Michael Gerlach has shown a patient eye at the plate. Despite hitting just .231 his on-base percentage is third on the team at .412 because of his team-leading four walks in just 13 at-bats.
LHP Wayne Russo (1-0; 2.57) has the lone San Jose State win and is second on the team with a 2.57 ERA. In his only start this season he went 7.0 innings and struck out two with one walk. He surrendered five hits and three runs, two earned, against the University of San Francisco. RHP Sean Martin (0-0; 2.45) and LHP Johnny Malero (0-2; 2.70) have been solid for the Spartans in two games each. Malero has made two starrs and has been unlucky in picking up two losses. Martin has come in from the bullpen twice to pitch 7.1 innings and has struck out seven while walking four.