SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Staying on the road for another West Coast Conference series, Santa Clara baseball looks to get back in the win column when it travels to the Pacific Northwest for a matchup with Portland. The Broncos and Pilots will play a doubleheader on Thurs., March 28 starting at 11 a.m. After taking Friday off, the two teams will wrap-up the series on Sat., March 30 at 1 p.m.
Last week Santa Clara opened conference action at Pepperdine and was swept in a three-game series. The losses put the Broncos at 8-15 on the season and 0-3 in WCC action.
Santa Clara is 41-26 all-time vs. Portland. Last year the Broncos picked up their first WCC win of the season in the finale of a three game set by beating the Pilots 5-4. Powell Fansler, the WCC Pitcher of the Month for February 2012, pitched six solid innings and Andrew Biancardi and Pat Stover added a home run each.
The Pilots enter the weekend with a record of 8-16 overall and 1-2 in the WCC. They opened the season by being swept at No. 5 Mississippi State. Two weeks later Portland fell. 3-1 at No. 14 Oregon and then took the opener in a four-game set with No. 21 UC Irvine 2-0. On Tuesday the Pilots fell at No. 12 Oregon 5-1.
"This rough patch is necessary right now," said Santa Clara head coach Dan O'Brien. "We must get tougher as a program and that message won't sink in until these guys get sick of getting beat. I welcome the adversity because I know it will ultimately build this program up."
Santa Clara has a team ERA of 5.69 in 204.0 innings. The pitching staff has allowed 246 hits and 82 walks while striking out 135. Opponents are hitting .305 off of Bronco pitchers.
Tommy Nance (2-2, 2.74) has been spectacular in five starts this year. Nance has thrown 23.0 innings and allowed 16 hits. He has 17 strikeouts against seven walks with an opponents' batting average of just .195. At San Jose State on March 10 he tossed 8.0-plus innings of one-hit, one-run ball with seven strikeouts.
Mike Couch (3-3, 3.26) has started the first six Friday nights for Santa Clara and had his best outing vs. San Jose State on March 8. Couch threw a complete game shutout with five strikeouts. Couch leads the team with 47.0 innings pitched and has struck out a team-high 31 batters with 17 walks while allowing 40 hits.
Max Deering (1-1, 3.08) has been lights out coming in from the bullpen. Deering has thrown 26.1 innings over 14 appearances, including one start, and struck out 21 batters against just five walks. His 4.2 strikeout to walk ratio is tops on the team. He has also leads the team with two saves. D.J. Zapata and Reece Karalus are tied for second in saves with one each.
Chris Mendoza (2-2, 5.93) stepped up out of the bullpen in the first game of the double header vs. Michigan State on March 16. Mendoza threw 5.0 innings of one-run ball to save the bullpen. Mendoza has thrown 27.1 innings over 10 appearances and five starts.
Santa Clara is hitting .269 as a team with a .360 on-base percentage and a .347 slugging percentage. The Broncos have hit 29 doubles, four triples and eight home runs while scoring 124 runs and stealing 35 bags in 51 attempts.
Greg Harisis leads Santa Clara in hitting with a .377 (26-69) batting average. Harisis clubbed his first home run of the season vs. vs. Northern Colorado on March 3. He has added five doubles, one triple, 14 runs scored, 12 RBI and four stole bases. His nine walks and one hit-by-pitch put his on-base percentage at a terrific .450.
Quinton Perry leads the team with five home runs, his total from 2012, while hitting .365 (23-63). Perry has a team-high 18 RBI while adding four doubles and scoring 16 runs. Perry has a .432 OBP and a .667 slugging percentage.
Newcomer Casey Munoz has started all 23 games for Santa Clara and is hitting .319 (29-91) with a team-high seven doubles, one triple, 17 RBI and eight runs scored. Matt Ozanne is tied for first on the Broncos with 18 RBI while hitting .273 (21-77) and scoring 12 runs. Justin Viele leads the Broncos with 16 walks, while hitting .295 (26-88) and posting a .417 OBP. He has scored 20 runs and driven in nine while hitting three doubles and a triple with a team-high six stolen bases in seven attempts. Freshman Kert Woods is second on the team with five steals in seven attempts while scoring nine runs.
Jeff Melby leads Portland with a .313 (25-80) batting average and a .382 on-base percentage. Melby has scored six runs and driven in eight runs with two doubles.
Caleb Whalen leads the Pilots with five steals and four triples. Whalen is hitting .273 (21-77) with seven runs scored and seven RBI to go along with three doubles.
Benn Grubb is hitting .228 (13-57) but leads the team with 12 runs scored. Grubb has added five doubles, a triple, a home run and three RBI with five steals.
Kurt Yinger (2-1, 1.75) has the lowest ERA on Portland in six starts. Yinger has tossed a team-high 46.1 innings while allowing 36 hits with 34 strikeouts and just five walks.
Billy Sahlinger (1-1, 2.25) is tied for the team-lead with two saves while appearing in eight games, including three starts. In 25.0 innings Sahlinger has struck out 19 against 11 walks.
Travis Radke (2-3, 3.82) leads the Pilots with 53 strikeouts. Radke has made six starts and thrown 35.1 innings while allowing 37 hits and 11 walks.
Jeremy Burright (2-2, 3.38) has appeared in 11 games over 10.2 innings with a save and 10 strikeouts. Colin Feldtman (0-0, 2.70) has picked up two saves in seven appearances.