March 21, 2012

Santa Clara Baseball Set For WCC-Opener At San Diego

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SANTA CLARA
, Calif. - With 13 days of rest, Santa Clara baseball (13-4) will return to the field Sat., Mar. 24 through Mon., Mar. 26 at San Diego in the first West Coast Conference games of the season for the Broncos. First-year head coach Dan O'Brien and the Broncos look to carry the momentum of non-conference play into the WCC season. The 13-4 record before playing a conference game is much better than last season. In 2011, Santa Clara was 11-17 before it opened its conference season.

The 13-4 start is also the best start Santa Clara baseball has had since the 2008 season when it started 10-3. That year the Broncos finished third in the WCC with an overall record of 33-22 while going 13-8 in conference, good for a third place finish.

Head coach Dan O'Brien will be returning to San Diego where he spent the last 14 seasons as head coach of UC San Diego, a Division II program. O'Brien was the most successful head coach in Triton history, compiling a record of 454-283-1 (.616). UCSD earned eight straight California Collegiate Athletic Association Championship Tournament appearances, five consecutive NCAA Regional appearances and back-to-back West Regional crowns in 2009 and '10.

Santa Clara's most recent games were the third annual Jack Gifford Memorial Classic from Mar. 8-11. Santa Clara beat Utah 4-1, Lehigh 5-3 and Columbia 3-0 but fell to San Jose State in a heart-breaker, 6-5, on the final day of the tournament.

Fans should keep an eye on SantaClaraBroncos.com, @SCUBroncos and @SCU_Baseball on twitter or the athletics Facebook fan page for in game updates.

BRONCO PITCHING
Junior RHP Tommy Nance (3-0; 2.56) has lived up to the title of Friday night starter for the Broncos in 2012. He has made four starts while also appearing in relief once. Nance leads the team with 31.2 innings pitched and 20 strikeouts. He has walked 10 while allowing a .248 batting average against. He is second on the team in wins, behind WCC Pitcher of the Month for February LHP Powell Fansler

Fansler has been stellar as Santa Clara's midweek starter. He has a team-high four wins and an ERA of 3.52. In six apperances, three starts, he has tossed 23.0 innings while striking out 11 and walking just four. Fansler was named WCC Pitcher of the Month for February when he picked up four wins while making two starts and appearing twice in relief.

RHP Mike Couch (1-1; 3.21) threw his first complete game and first career shutout vs. San Jose State on Mar. 4. He allowed six hits and one walk while striking out seven. Converting from a bullpen role in 2011, Couch has made four starts and thrown 28.0 innings. His 19 strikeouts are second on the team and he has only allowed six walks.

RHP Paul Twining (2-2; 4.61) has been the top bullpen arm thus far for Coach O'Brien. Twining has made 12 appearances to lead the team and struck out 16 batters in 13.2 innings. He also leads the team with six saves. He pitched the ninth inning in each of the four Santa Clara games in the third annual Jack Gifford Memorial Tournament from Mar. 8-11, picking up three saves.

BRONCO OFFENSE
Offensively, OF Lucas Herbst and OF Pat Stover have paced the Broncos thus far in 2012. Herbst is second on the team with .426 batting average (29-68). He has scored a team-high 20 runs and added 14 RBI while hitting five doubles and four triples. With six walks and four HBP, his on-base percentage stands at an eye-popping .488 which has helped him steal four bases. Stover is third on the Broncos with a .348 (23-66) batting average. Stover leads the team 17 RBI and has also scored 15 runs. He has five doubles and two home runs. His six steals in six attempts leads the team. 

Others doing well include 1B Andrew Biancardi who has two home runs and three doubles while adding 13 RBI and scoring 10 runs. C Peter Summerville has started to pick up more at-bats and is making the most of his opportunity. In 12 games, including eight starts, Summerville leads the team with a .467 batting average (14-30). He already has four multi-hit games including a 3-3 performance at San Jose State on Mar. 3. 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.

SCOUTING SAN DIEGO
The Toreros are tearing the cover off the ball, leading the WCC in  almost every offensive category. As a team they are hitting .335 with a .410 on-base percentage and a .470 slugging percentage. Their 161 runs scored are 53 more than the next closest team (Santa Clara has 108). They have hit 20 more doubles and seven more home runs than any other team in the WCC. 

Preseason All-WCC 3B Kris Bryant is leading the team in cirtually every offensive catetory inclyding hitting  (.414), runs (23), hits (36), doubles (7), home runs (6), RBI (27), walks (15), hit-by-pitch (7), total bases (61), slugging percentage (.701) and on-base percentage (.532). He has also swiped three bases in six attempts.

1B/OF Corey LeVier has been fantastic as well for San Diego. He is hitting .409 with at .480 on-base percentage. He has scored 20 runs and knocked in 11 more. C Dillon Haupt has launched four home runs and driven in 22 runs while hitting .307. Of  Torero players with at least 20 at-bats, San Diego has eight players hitting over .300

On the mound San Diego has two starters and two relievers with ERAs under 3.00. RHP Paul Sewald is 2-1 with a 1.85 ERA in 34.0 innings pitched. In his five starts and one relief apperance he has struck out 32 against 14 walks. Having only allowed 22 hits, his batting average against is .185. RHP Calvin Drummond has pitched 32.0 innings in five starts and has struck out 32 batters while walking 10. He is tied for the team lead with four wins and has a 2.53 ERA.

LHP James Pazos and RHP Michael Wagner have been stellar coming our of the bullpen for head coach Rich Hill. Pazos has a 1.75 ERA and a 4-1 record in 13 appearances. He has totaled 25.2 innings pitched while striking out 29 and walking just nine. Wagner leads the team with 10 saves in 12 apperances. He has pitched 21.0 innings and struck out 17 and walked four. His strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.25 is tops on the team.

BEATING QUALITY OPPONENTS
Santa Clara isn't just beating up on weak teams in 2012. So far they have defeated No. 35 Texas State, No. 37 Wichita State and a Cal Poly team who swept Oklahoma State in three games and the Broncos WCC rival LMU in a four game series. Santa Clara has taken down five teams with a winning record and four teams with a winnig percentage of .600 or better. 

Below are the teams the Broncos have beaten in 2012 and their current records.

Team

Wins 

Losses 

Ties 

Outcomes 

Texas State

13 

Won 5-4, (13) 

Louisiana-Lafayette

12 

Won 7-1, (12) 

Wichita State

12 

10 

Won 8-5 

Cal Poly

12 

Won 5-2 and 11-6 

Illinois-Chicago

11 

Won 9-3 and 12-7(7)

Nevada

10 

Won 8-4 

San Jose State

10 

Won 3-1 and 4-0 

Utah

12 

Won 4-1 

Lehigh

13 

Won 5-3 

Columbia

11 

Won 3-0 

TOTAL

86 

95 

 

POWELL FANSLER NAMED WCC PITCHER OF THE MONTH FOR FEBRUARY
Santa Clara baseball went 7-2 in new head coach Dan O'Brien's first month on the Mission Campus and LHP Powell Fansler was named the West Coast Conference Pitcher of the Month for February. He picked up four of the seven Bronco wins while making two starts and appearing twice in relief. 

"Being honored as the WCC Pitcher of the Month is indescribable but the award should be given not just to myself but to my team as well," said Fansler. "When I'm on the mound I really focus on executing the pitches that my coach calls. In addition, I have developed a routine that I stick to everyday and when something doesn't feel right I can look to my routine to find out what the problem might be. As for the team dynamic, I have a defense that I know works just as hard as I do, in practice and during the game, it makes pitching a lot easier. Our team mentality is completely different this year and it started with the new energy of the team and coaches. We love to have fun. Furthermore, the coaching staff has fostered a brotherhood that is unbreakable, because of this companionship each and every one of us has grown closer. We trust each other. Thus, the success that the team has been having is a result of the our attitude, trust, and hard work."

"This is great for the program but mostly it's great for Powell," said first-year Bronco pitching coach Gabe Ribas. " I saw a guy who was will to throw strikes and compete in the zone. I think he's done a great job of that all year. He's also done a great job pitching in pressure situations with runners on. He's come out and made some great changes and he's really mindful of where he wants to go this year. He earned it and hopefully we have a bundle more of those coming. Although he's stood out for us, everybody's done a great job. It's great to get individual awards but those are for the individuals. We're a team-oriented program and hopefully we'll get some team awards, too."

Fansler was dazzling for the month, making two starts and two relief appearances. He posted a 2.65 ERA to go along with his four wins. In 17.0 innings pitched he allowed 16 hits and struck out nine against only two walks.

His best start game vs. Nevada on Feb. 28 at Schott Stadium. He scattered five hits over 7.0 shutout innings and struck out three with only one walk.

MOVING DOWN THE ALAMEDA
The 2011-12 Santa Clara baseball team has three members that all played their high school baseball just down the Alameda at Bellarmine College Prep. Freshman Matt Glomb, sophomore Kyle DeMerritt and junior Mike Couch all played at the Jesuit prep school that is just 1.5 miles from the Mission campus. DeMerritt and Glomb played together at Bellarmine, while DeMerritt appeared on the same varsity team as Couch during his sophomore season. Bellarmine, a typical feeder for many Santa Clara students, has funneled many players into a Bronco uniform. Since 2005, each Santa Clara baseball team has had at least two former Bells on its roster with six wearing the Santa Clara uniform in 2009. The Bells have given Santa Clara two Louisville Slugger Freshman All-Americans – DeMerritt (2010-11 season) and Tommy Medica '09 (2006-07 season).

BROTHERLY LOVE
Twin brothers OF Matt Ozanne and 3B/DH Drew Ozanne look to continue to produce offensively for the Broncos. Matt started 45 games last season and lead the team with 10 stolen bases and added 22 RBI.  He has appeared in 13 games, making 11starts, in 2012. He has one home run and seven RBI. Drew started 29 games, appearing in 37. He had 16 RBI on the season, including a walk-off RBI single against Bakersfield. This season Drew has appeared in seven games while making two starts. He has scored five runs and added two RBI. 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 appearances. 

DEMERRTT ON SUMMER BALL
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, Wis.. 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. Thus far in 2012 he has made nine starts and score five runs with five RBI.

LISTEN UP
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. The games to be aired will be Mar. 9 vs. Lehigh, Mar. 30 vs. Portland, Apr. 10 vs. Cal, Apr. 20 vs. Pepperdine, Apr. 27 vs. Saint Mary's, May 22 vs. Stanford and May 25 vs. LMU. 

"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."

HOT START
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 around 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."