March 4, 2012

Santa Clara Wins Behind Couch's Complete Game Shutout

Check out photos from the game! (Credit Denis Concordel)

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Trying to rebound from a tough loss on Saturday, Santa Clara baseball was led by a career day from RHP Mike Couch as it topped San Jose State by a final score of 4-0. The win moves the Broncos record to 9-3 and the Spartans are now 3-7.

Couch (1-1; 2.70) made his third start of 2012 and pitched his first career complete game and first career shutout while allowing six hits and striking out seven, also a career high, with only one walk. RF Lucas Herbst continued his hot hitting by going 3-4 with two runs scored and a stolen base. 1B Andrew Biancardi drove in two runs on two sacrifice flies.

Santa Clara will continue its home stand on Tue., Mar. 6 at 6 p.m. against Cal Poly. The Broncos beat the Mustangs in San Luis Obispo on Feb. 21 by a score of 5-2 in a matchup of then-undefeated teams.

"It was a lot of fun out there today," said Couch. "I was just trying to take it one inning at a time, one pitch at a time and win each at bat. I was trying to stay calm on the mound and keep my nerves in check. I was fortunate to have all my pitches working and my fastball command is what really did it for me. The last three innings I think I only threw five or six off speed pitches."

San Jose State threatened in the first inning when LF Michael Gerlach and DH Jacon Valdez hit back-to-back one-out singles. Couch got RF Tim Quiery to fly out to left and 1B Matt Carroll to strikeout swinging to end the inning.

The Broncos put two on with one out in the bottom of the first on a solid base hit up the middle by Herbst and a walk to LF Pat Stover. DH T.J. Braff hit a chopper up the middle that deflected off the shortstop's glove and brought in the first run of the game while advancing Stover to third. Biancardi brought in the second Bronco run on a sacrifice fly to right field. Braff was thrown out trying to steal to end the first with the score 2-0 in favor of Santa Clara.

Herbst led off the home half of the third inning with a triple into the right field corner. Stover followed with a RBI double past the diving first baseman to make the score 3-0 Broncos. Braff grounded out to shortstop to advance Stover to third with one out. Biancardi followed with his second sac fly of the day to put the Broncos up 4-0.

Back-to-back Spartan singles started the top of the fourth. 3B Tyler Christian laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners. C Kyle Gallegos hit a liner that 2B Kyle DeMerritt leaped for and used every inch he had to snag the ball for the out. SS Ricky Acosta flew out to center to end the inning without a run scoring.

2B Michael Reiling lead off the top of the fifth inning with a bloop single that just found the outfield grass. Mercurio sacrificed the runner over to second and Gerlach flew out to right to put a runner on third with two outs. Couch struck out Valdez looking to end the half inning.

Ozanne drew a lead off walk in the bottom of the seventh and Herbst popped up a bunt that the pitcher dove for but trapped it against the ground and both runners were safe. Stover flew out to deep center and Ozanne went to third to put runners on the corners with one out. Herbst stole second to put two in scoring position for Santa Clara. Guzman got Braff to strike out swinging and Biancardi to ground out to shortstop to end the inning with the score still 4-0.

Couch came out for the start of the ninth and Carroll hit a one-hop grounder that tied-up 3B Matt Glomb and his throw was in the dirt and got past Biancardi. He got a strikeout of pinch hitter Caleb Natov and a chopper to short by Gallegos to put a runner on second with two outs. Pinch hitter Matt Lopez walked and another pinch hitter, Kalei Contrades, grounded out to second to give the Broncos the 4-0 win.

Game Notes: First pitch was at 1:02 p.m. ... RHP Estaban Guzman came in to replace LHP David Wayne Russo to start the bottom of the fourth inning ... Pat Stover was hit in the head with a pitch in the fifth but was not injured ... four batters (three for Santa Clara, one for San Jose State) were hit by a pitch but called back because they did not attempt to get out of the way, according to the home plate umpire.