SANTA CLARA, Calif. – After splitting four games on opening weekend, Santa Clara baseball returns to its home field for a three-game set with Illinois-Chicago. The teams will play at Schott Stadium at 6 p.m. on Fri., Feb. 22 and then a double-header starting at 1 p.m. on Sat., Feb. 23.
I'm proud of this ballclub and how they've handled early season adversity," said Santa Clara head coach Dan O'Brien. "They battled regardless of the circumstances last weekend. Everyone gets beat up, but not all clubs have fight. As we get healthier, we'll only get better."
"We just need to get back in the zone this weekend," said Bronco pitching coach Gabe Ribas. "We need to be consistent and put some pressure on their offense. Hopefully we've got the jitters out of us. All of that is behind us and now we can get back to the principles that we teach. We can have a little bit of grit and toughness about us and get back to competing on every pitch. We want to be able to control what we can control and develop every time we get out there. Week one can expose some of your weaknesses and hopefully our guys saw that and are ready to get back to putting their nose in the dirt, filling up the zone and getting after it."
Last year the Flames visited Schott Stadium and split the four games with the Broncos. Santa Clara took the opener and finale but UIC swept a Saturday double-header. It was the second time the teams had played with the first meeting coming in 1978 when the Broncos took two games from the Flames. Santa Clara is 4-2 all-time vs. UIC.
Last weekend Santa Clara won the first two games of the season with 7-6 and 16-11 wins over Seattle but lost the finale to the Redhawks 15-13 and dropped a President's Day game to Cal Poly 5-4.
Tommy Nance (0-0, 0.00) had the best start for Santa Clara on opening weekend. Nance tossed 4.0 shutout innings with two strikeouts on just 34 pitches. Opening-night starter Mike Couch (1-0, 6.43) went 7.0 innings while allowing four hits and fanning three while picking up the win.
"Tommy was huge for us," said Ribas. "He stuck to some really basic mechanical principles. He's a horse and he's going to be one of the better guys in our league. He set a great example for the entire pitching staff. Sometimes you give up hard contact but you come back and you're facing a new guy. He kept it really simple and filled up the zone with three pitches. He showed he's a legitimate ace on the West coast, no matter what conference you play in."
Max Deering (1-0, 0.00) came out of the bullpen three times and picked up the win in the second game of the season by throwing 2.2 innings of shutout relief with two strikeouts. In all, Deering threw 5.0 innings without allowing a run. He struck out five and walked just two while allowing just two hits.
D.J. Zapata (0-0, 15.43) picked up the lone Bronco save by picking up the final out of the opener. He struck out one and walked one in 0.1 innings pitched. It was Zapata's Division I debut. Zapata made two appearances covering 2.1 innings with two strikeouts.
"Our young guys got out there and some nerves got the better of them but at the end of the weekend you saw tremendous maturity from the young guys by making one-nigh adjustments," said Ribas. "They came out after their first outings and got back to some core principles. It was a great opportunity for the game to teach them some things that we as coaches can't necessarily do. The game teaches you your biggest lessons and they did a great job responding to those things."
Drew Ozanne led Santa Clara with a .600 (6-10) batting average on the opening weekend. After coming in as a sub in the opener, Ozanne started the next three games and didn't stop hitting. He scored five runs, had two RBI and one double with a stolen base.
Quinton Perry flexed his muscles at the plate by knocking two home runs while hitting .529 (9-17). Perry added two doubles, five RBI, scored eight runs and stole a base to go along with three walks.
Preseason All-WCC selection Greg Harisis hit .529 (9-17) with a double, two RBI and six runs scored. Harisis swiped two bags in three attempts. His biggest game came on Feb. 17 when he went 5-6 with five singles, an RBI and three runs scored.
Junior transfer Casey Munoz had a big weekend in his Division I debut. He hit .421 (8-19) with two runs scored, two doubles, a stole base and six RBI. On Feb. 16 Munoz went 4-6 with a run scored and two RBI to pad the Broncos' lead in the late innings.
As a team Santa Clara hit .360 and scored 39 runs with eight doubles and two home runs. The Broncos stole 10 bases in 13 attempts and drew 20 walks to post a team on-base percentage of .441.
Illinois-Chicago upset No. 24 Texas A&M 2-0 on opening day on the road but dropped the next two to the Aggies by finals of 4-3 and 5-1.
The Flames hit just .234 as a team in its season-opening series. The Flames had only one extra base hit, a double, and scored six runs in three games. They attempted just one stolen base and were unsuccessful.
Tyler Detmer led UIC with a .556 (5-9) batting average and knocked in three runs. Alex De La Rosa hit .333 (4-12) with a double, a run scored and a RBI. John Coen scored a team-high three runs while hitting .250 (2-8). Alex Jurich hit .333 (2-6) in two starts and Jacob McNamara went 1-2 with two hit-by-pitches in one start.
Illinois-Chicago had a 2.88 team ERA against Texas A&M with 14 strikeouts against five walks in 25.0 innings pitched. UIC held the Aggies to a .225 batting average.
Tomas Michelson (1-0, 0.00) threw 7.1 innings in the season-opener and picked up the win. He allowed four hits and two walks while striking out five.
Ian Lewandowski (0-0, 0.00) threw 5.0 innings of relief over two appearances. He allowed three hits with one walk and one strikeout.
Alex Posey (0-0, 0.00) was perfect while pitching in all three games and picking up a save. In all, Posey tossed 1.2 innings with two strikeouts.