Baseball plates two late runs to beat Gonzaga 3-2

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS — Santa Clara baseball scored single runs in the seventh and eighth innings and got strong performances from its pitching staff to defeat the Gonzaga Bulldogs 3-2 at Nelson Wolff Stadium in San Antonio, Texas Saturday afternoon. The Broncos improve to 4-4 with the victory — their third straight — while Gonzaga falls to 2-5. Santa Clara plays the final game of the Irish Baseball Classic tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. PST against Notre Dame. The Broncos defeated the Irish 2-1 on Feb. 20 in their opening game of the event.

Santa Clara is the only team with an undefeated mark in Irish Baseball Classic competition at 3-0. The win over Gonzaga was Santa Clara's first in its last 10 tries dating back to the 2010 season.

Redshirt freshman Steven Wilson threw six innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits, walked five and struck out three. He faced four batters in the first and the minimum three batters in the second and third, including a 1-2-3 second. Wilson has given up only five hits in 12.2 innings through two starts this season.

"When Steven spots up, he's really tough to barrel," head coach Dan O'Brien said. "He also has a great defense behind him so he knows he can get right after hitters."

Center fielder Greg Harisis continued his hot start to the 2014 campaign with a leadoff double as the first Bronco batter of the game. The senior made it to third on a balk and scored on an RBI groundout by shortstop Kyle Czaplak to put Santa Clara ahead 1-0.

Gonzaga right fielder Payden Lamb put the Bulldogs on the board and tied the game up with an RBI single in the fourth. One inning later, the visitors took a 2-1 lead on an RBI groundout from left fielder Sam Brown. Wilson finished off the start on a high note by tossing a three-up-three-down sixth and striking out the last batter he faced, center fielder Brock Slavin.

The Broncos used four pitchers out of the bullpen, including Chris Heckert (W, 1-0) and Reece Karalus (SV, 1). Heckert entered a 2-2 game in the top of the seventh and got pinch hitter Beau Bozett to ground out to second for the final out the inning.

"I can't say enough about Chris Heckert. He's going to be great in whatever he chooses in life," O'Brien said. "He's getting it done on the mound partly because he's a grinder, but at the end of the day it's because he's just an outstanding human being."

Harisis pulled the Broncos level in the seventh with an RBI double to score left fielder Jose Vizcaino, Jr. Pinch hitter Casey Munoz hit a bases loaded RBI single to drive in the game's deciding run in the eighth against Gonzaga's Kenny Smith (L, 0-2).

"We have a lot of depth and a lot of good hitters on this ballclub," O'Brien said. "I've been proud of our guys off the bench who have been coming up ready to barrel the baseball." 

Karalus issued a leadoff walk followed by three consecutive outs to close out the game in the ninth. First baseman Quinton Perry led the Broncos with three of the team's 12 hits in the victory, while Santa Clara limited the Bulldogs to just five hits. For the second straight game, at least four Broncos recorded multiple hits.

GAME NOTES: First pitch was at 10:30 a.m. PST … time of game was 2:50.