SANTA CLARA, Calif. – On opening night of the 2014 season, Santa Clara baseball fell to Nevada by a final score of 4-1. The loss puts the Broncos at 0-1 while Nevada is 2-0 after winning the opening game of the day at Schott Stadium.
D.J. Zapata (0-0) started for Santa Clara and picked up the loss in 5.2 innings. Zapata allowed two runs on seven hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
"I'm really proud of the way D.J. pitched tonight," said Bronco head coach Dan O'Brien. "Considering he doesn't have much college experience as a starter and where he was last year, to come out and deliver a game like that says so much about him."
"Our young guys played great tonight; we had a lot of freshman and sophomores that played like veterans," O'Brien said.
Michael Fain (0-0) made the start for Nevada and picked up a no-decision in 4.1 innings. Fain allowed one earned run on three hits and three walks with three strikeouts. Colby Blueberg (1-0) picked up the win for the Wolfpack in 1.2 innings of relief while Adam Whitt got the save with 3.0 scoreless innings. Justin Bridgman was 2-3 with a walk, a RBI, and a run scored to lead the offense. Austin Byler was 2-5 with a run scored while Scott Kaplan was 2-4 with a walk and a run scored.
Graf-Brennen battled to draw a one-out walk in his first collegiate plate appearance. Graf-Brennan stole second on a 2-1 pitch and moved to third on the throw that went into centerfield. Zach Looney followed with a walk to put runners on the corners with just one down. With Quinton Perry at the plate, Looney stole second and Graf-Brennan came in to score the first run of the night.
Berman reached first on an error to start the bottom of the second. Vizcaino, Jr. followed with a beautiful bunt single down the third baseline. Both runners advanced on a comebacker to the mound that should have been a double play but the throw from the pitcher pulled the shortstop off the bag. Seaver Whalen hit a shallow fly to left that wasn't deep enough to get the run across but Greg Harisis followed with a four-pitch walk to load the bases. Graf-Brennen flipped a ball to left but it was tracked down and the Wolfpack escaped the inning unscathed.
Jay Anderson walked to start the third and moved to second on a ground out. Jordan Devencenzi was hit by a pitch to put two on with just one out. Zapata came back with a strikeout on a high fastball and a fly ball to right to keep Nevada scoreless.
Kaplan hit a sharp single up the middle to lead off the top of the fourth for Nevada. Ryan Teel smoked one shortstop that bounced off Whalen and allowed both runners to advance a base. Brooks roped an RBI single to left to tie the game and keep runners on the corners. Bridgman followed with a seeing-eye single to put the Wolfpack on top for the first time with still nobody out. Anderson laid down a sac bunt for the first out that put runners on second and third with just one out. Zapata induced a weak grounder back to the mound and fanned Devencenzi to escape the inning without another run coming across.
Stevie Berman led off the fourth with his first career hit but was gunned down attempting to steal. Vizcaino reached on an error and stole second and moved to third on a wild throw by the catcher. C.J. Jacobe went down looking and Whalen went down swinging to end the inning.
Byler and Brad Gerig hit back-to-back singles with one out in the top of the seventh off of Max Deering. Kaplan followed with a walk to load the bases for Nevada and Max Kuhns came in to pitch for Santa Clara in his collegiate debut. Kyle Hunt hit a sacrifice fly to left to extend the lead to 3-1.
"We want Kuhns to be that guy and it was by design to put him in for a tough situation," O'Brien said. "It was great to have him get experience in a jam like that."
Jacobe led off the bottom of the seventh with a walk and Kyle Czaplak came in to pinch hit and make his collegiate debut. A walk to Czaplak put the tying run on base with no one out. With two balls on Harisis, Whitt came in to pitch in the middle of the at bat. Whitt got a double play to escape the jam and keep it a two run game.
Bridgman walked to lead off the top of the eighth and Anderson laid down a sacrifice bunt. Bridgman took off and stole third and came in to score on a wild throw by the catcher to make the score 4-1.
The Broncos made some noise in the bottom of the ninth. Vizcaino doubled down the right field line with one down. Jacobe reached first on the fifth error of the night by the Wolfpack to put runners on the corners. Czaplak went down swinging for the second out and Harisis came to the plate as the Broncos last chance. Harisis went down swinging to end the game.
Game Notes: Attendance was 417 … First pitch was at 6:20 pm … Three true freshmen were in the starting lineup. Rory Graf-Brennen played second and hit second, Stevie Berman caught and hit sixth, and Seaver Whalen played shortstop and hit ninth. … Colby Blueberg came in to pitch for Nevada with a 1-0 count and one out in the bottom of the fifth. … Max Deering came in to pitch for D.J. Zapata with two outs in the top of the sixth. … Nick Medeiros came in to pitch the top of the ninth.