SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS — Behind a complete-game effort from senior starting pitcher D.J. Zapata, Santa Clara baseball won 2-1 Thursday night over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Nelson Wolff Stadium in San Antonio, Texas. The Broncos improved to 2-4 with the victory while the Irish fell to 1-3 in the first game of the Irish Baseball Classic. Santa Clara returns to action tomorrow for the second of a four-game stretch at 2 p.m. PST against University of the Incarnate Word.
Zapata (W, 1-1) made his second start of 2014 for the Broncos and recorded a career-high eight strikeouts while conceding one earned run on six hits and one walk. The Oceanside, Calif. native tossed a 1-2-3 inning in the third and held the fighting Irish scoreless after they put runners at the corners with one out in the fourth. Notre dame went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position against the Santa Clara starter.
"D.J. was in control the entire night, physically and mentally," said head coach Dan O'Brien. "He's pretty talented, but he's our most mature player as well and that's why he was so calm under pressure tonight."
Irish starter Nick McCarty (L, 0-2) threw 6.2 innings and allowed two earned runs on six hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Center fielder and leadoff hitter Greg Harisis opened the scoring in the third with a one-out, solo home run to right, his second long ball of the season. Irish second baseman Cavan Biggio tied the game at one with a solo home run down the right field line to lead off the sixth.
The Broncos retook the lead one inning later on pinch-hitter Peter Summerville's RBI single to drive in third baseman Max Kuhns. Pinch hit RBI singles have produced the game-deciding run in both of Santa Clara's wins this season.
"Three of our last four have been tight ballgames, and that's making us better," O'Brien said.
After Biggio's home run, Zapata retired ten consecutive batters through the first out of the ninth. Designated hitter Robert Youngdahl hit a one-out single for the Irish before the right-hander issued a line out and ground ball out to end the game. Zapata, who did not make a start for the Broncos in 2013, previously had a career high of three strikeouts.
"It takes an impressive individual to pick up baseball after starting college as a football player and then throwing a complete game two years later," O'Brien said. "I can't say enough about D.J.'s makeup. He's the reason you recruit great humans."
Game Notes: First pitch was at 5 p.m. PST … time of game was 2:11.