Santa Clara Baseball To Take On Brown, Portland At Home

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. Playing a mid-week doubleheader with Brown on Tuesday, Santa Clara will host Portland this weekend as it opens the 2012 West Coast Conference home slate.

The Broncos are 13-7 and 0-3 in the WCC after dropping a three-game set at No. 24 San Diego over the weekend. San Diego is now 21-6 and 3-0 in the WCC.

Brown is 1-9 this season. The Bears' only win came vs. Maine on March 22. The 22-4 victory accounts for more than one-third of the teams' total runs scored.

The Pilots sit at 14-5 with a 1-2 mark in the West Coast Conference. They opened conference play by dropping two of three vs. BYU.

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; 3.11) has lived up to the title of Friday night starter for the Broncos in 2012. He has made five starts while also appearing in relief once. Nance leads the team with 37.2 innings pitched and 23 strikeouts. He has walked 14 while allowing a .244 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 mid-week starter. He has a team-high four wins and an ERA of 3.12. In seven appearances, including three starts, he has tossed 26.0 innings while striking out 13 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 (1-2; 5.10) 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 five starts and thrown 30.0 innings. His 21 strikeouts are second on the team and he has only allowed nine 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 tied for first on the team with .400 batting average (32-80). He has scored a team-high 20 runs and added 14 RBI while hitting six doubles and four triples. With six walks and four HBP, his on-base percentage stands at a terrific .457 which has helped him steal four bases. Stover is third on the Broncos with a .351 (27-77) batting average. Stover leads the team 18 RBI and has also scored 17 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 16 RBI and scoring 12 runs. C Peter Summerville has started to pick up more at-bats and is making the most of his opportunity. In 15 games, including 11 starts, Summerville is tied for the team-lead with a .400 batting average (16-40). 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 BROWN
The Bears just wrapped-up a four-game series with Pacific in which they were swept. The Tigers outscored Brown 42-14 and only one game was decided by less than seven runs (a 5-4 Pacific victory on Mar. 25). 

Brown has struggled to keep runs off the board as its pitchers have a combined 9.15 ERA. RHP Heath Mayo has thrown 17.0 innings to lead the team but only has five strikeouts against 12 walks. His ERA of 6.35 is second on the team and he has the lone win on the season for the Bears.

RHP Taylor Wright leads the team with a 3.68 ERA in five appearances, including one start. In his 14.2 innings he has struck out 11 batters while walking just five. He has an 0-1 record, picking up the loss at Pacific on Mar. 24. He allowed five runs on 11 hits in 5.0 innings as the Bears fell 10-0.

LHP Will Marcal has an impressive 15 strikeouts in just 12.0 innings to lead the team. He has made two starts and appeared in relief twice.

INF Cody Slaughter leads the team with a .375 (15-40) batting average and .550 slugging percentage. He has smacked two homers and added 12 a team-high 12 RBI.

OF John Sheridan leads the team with five stolen bases in six attempts. He is hitting .310 (13-42) and has one home run and two doubles to accompany his four RBI.

Despite hitting just .188, OF/1B Mike DiBiase leads the team with 10 runs scored. He has found a way to get on base with seven walks and two hit-by-pitches to put is on-base percentage at .357.

SCOUTING PORTLAND
The Pilots strength this season has been on the mound. They have a team ERA of 2.09 with is good for second in the WCC. LHP Travis Radke had led the way with a 1.20 ERA in six starts. He has thrown 30.0 innings and struck out 33 against only 10 walks. Batters can't square him up as evidenced by his 14 hits allowed. 

RHP Kyle Kraus leads the team with 44.2 innings pitched in six starts. He has only struck out 16 batters but has surrendered just five walks. He has a record of 3-2 and an ERA of 2.22.

Out of the bullpen RHP Owen Jones has made a team-high 12 appearances and has racked up seven saves. His miniscule 0.82 ERA is helped by his 16 strikeouts.

IF Brian Frattali leads the team in hitting with a .323 average. He also has a team-high 11 walks to put his on-base percentage at .450. He has one home run and eight RBI to go along with 10 runs scored.

OF/IF Turner Gill has been the big bat for the Pilots, having knocked three home runs in just 68 at-bats to pace the team. He is hitting .309 and has added three doubles and 11 runs scored. Tied for the team-lead with 12 RBI, Gill has also swiped one base.

Despite hitting just .226 (14-62), IF/OF Caleb Whalen has made sure that his hits have counted. He has eight extra-base hits (two homers, two triples and four doubles) which has led to him knocking in 11 runs and scoring 10 more.

BEATING QUALITY OPPONENTS
Santa Clara came out of the gates in 2012 ready to play. Thus 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 winning percentage of .600 or better. 

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

Team

 

Wins

 

Losses

 

Outcomes

 

Texas State

 

13

 

6

 

Won 5-4, (13)

 

Louisiana-Lafayette

 

12

 

8

 

Won 7-1, (12)

 

Wichita State

 

12

 

10

 

Won 8-5

 

Cal Poly

 

12

 

6

 

Won 5-2 and 11-6

 

Nevada

 

10

 

8

 

Won 8-4

 
 

SANTA CLARA RANKED IN MID-MAJOR POLL
As of Mar. 26, the Broncos are No. 18 in the www.CollegeBaseballDaily.com Mid-Major Poll. Santa Clara is joined by three other WCC members including No. 8 Pepperdine, No. 14 San Diego and No. 16 Gonzaga. TCU is No. 1 in the poll for the first week this season. 

Texas State, who Santa Clara beat 5-4 in 13 innings on the road to open its season, sits at No. 2.

Also in the poll is No. 7 Dallas Baptist who lost to Cal in the 2012 Santa Clara Super Regional at Santa Clara's Stephen Schott Stadium. Santa Clara hosted the Super Regional because Cal did not have the facilities to accommodate the large number of media and fans.

JOHN FRANCO
For the second straight season, former Major League Baseball LHP John Franco will coming to the Mission Campus to watch his son INF J.J. Franco play for Brown against Santa Clara. J.J. Franco has started all 12 games for the Bears and is hitting .225 (9-40). He has scored six runs and has one RBI to go along with one stolen base. 

John Franco pitched for the Cincinnati Reds, New York Mets and Houston Astros during a 21-year baseball career. He holds a National League record for games pitched with 1,119, which is third in MLB history. His 424 career saves was second in major league history when he retired in 2005 and is currently fourth behind Mariano Rivera (603), Trevor Hoffman (601) and Lee Smith (478). He holds the record for most saves by a left-hander.

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 16 games, making 14starts, 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 nine 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 15 starts and scored seven runs with seven 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 remaining 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."