March 13, 2014

Baseball Continues Homestand Against Penn State Thursday-Saturday

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — In its last non-conference weekend series of the 2014 season, Santa Clara baseball will face Penn State for a Thursday-Saturday matchup March 13-15 at Schott Stadium. The Broncos and Nittany Lions will take to the diamond for a 6 p.m. first pitch Thursday and Friday, followed by a 12 p.m. first pitch Saturday.

Last weekend, the Broncos went 1-3 as a host of the fifth annual Jack Gifford Memorial Baseball Tournament. Santa Clara won 9-8 in walkoff fashion March 8 against Pacific on Casey Munoz's pinch-hit, RBI single and posted a season-best four doubles in that win. Both of Santa Clara's home wins in 2014 have come on pinch hit, walkoff RBI singles. The Broncos lost a close game to UC Davis (3-2 March 7), in which they posted a season-high five stolen bases, and dropped a pair of games against Washington (6-4 March 6, 9-1 March 9).

Probable Starters

Thu., March 13, 6 p.m.

SCU: RHP D.J. Zapata (1-3, 4.15 ERA) vs. PSU: LHP Greg Welsh (0-3, 7.71 ERA)

Fri., March 14, 6 p.m.

SCU: RHP Steven Wilson (0-1, 3.70 ERA) vs. PSU: RHP T.J. Jann (0-3, 3.18 ERA)

Sat., March 15, 12 p.m.

SCU: RHP Peter Hendron (2-1, 2.39 ERA) vs. PSU: RHP Patton Taylor (1-0, 5.59 ERA)

Live Stats and Video

Click here to access live stats for all games this weekend

Click here to access a video feed (no audio commentary) for all games this weekend

This Weekend's Opponent: Penn State

Penn State wraps up a stretch of eight games in nine days with the three-game set in Santa Clara this weekend. The Nittany Lions enter the weekend after a pair of losses to Fresno State in the last two days: 13-3 March 11 and 12-3 March 12. Penn State has lost four of its last five games overall.

Rob Cooper is in his first season as the head coach of Penn State. Prior to joining the Nittany Lions, he spent nine years coaching at Wright State and went 286-230 with two regular season titles and three tournament championships in the Horizon League.

Bronco Offense

Zach Looney was a staple in the Santa Clara lineup and in the field during the Jack Gifford Memorial Baseball Tournament last weekend. The senior from Colorado Springs, Colo. hit .400 (6-for-15) with two doubles, four RBIs, two runs scored and two walks with just two strikeouts. He started all four games at second base and turned out a strong defensive weekend with 10 putouts and 14 assists, while committing no errors.

Greg Harisis and Looney are the only two Broncos to start all 17 games in 2014.  Harisis has reached safely in 13 of 23 trips to the plate as a leadoff hitter this season entering Thursday night's game. The senior from Yorba Linda, Calif. has scored 20 of the team's 77 runs (26 percent) and crossed the plate 13 times more than the Bronco with the second-highest number of runs, Casey Munoz. Harisis also leads the team in hits (24) doubles (7), home runs (2) and total bases (37).

Mac Hess also had a productive last weekend for the Broncos, going 6-for-14 with a double, two RBIs, two runs scored, two walks and two stolen bases. After coming off the bench for his first six appearances, Hess has started in six of his last seven appearances, including all four last weekend. He leads the Broncos with a .440 batting average (11-for-25) and currently owns a team-best seven-game hitting streak.

Stevie Berman has a team-high 11 walks and is the only Bronco batter to amass 10 hits with runners on base this season.

The senior duo of Harisis and Munoz was among the most productive offensive players last season, as Munoz led the Broncos in batting average (.308), hits (64), doubles (10) and RBIs (31) while Harisis led the Broncos in on-base percentage (.399) and stolen bases (13-for-15).

Bronco Pitching

In his last start against Washington March 6, this Thursday's probable D.J. Zapata recorded his second-longest outing of the season with 6.0 innings and allowed five runs (four earned) on nine his with no walks and four strikeouts. The senior from Oceanside, Calif. leads all Bronco pitchers with 18 strikeouts on the season in 26.0 innings pitched. Zapata recorded a complete game victory Feb. 20 against Notre Dame.

Friday's probable Steven Wilson finished his last start with a no decision after throwing 5.2 innings against UC Davis March 7. He currently has the lowest opposing batting average of Santa Clara starters at .207.

Saturday's probable Peter Hendron made the started and pitched 5.2 innings March 8 against Pacific. He gave up seven runs (four earned) on eight hits with two walks and four strikeouts. He threw a career-best 8.0 innings pitched and a career-best seven strikeouts March 2 against Manhattan.

The Broncos have used four pitchers eight or more times out of the bullpen this season. Reece Karalus and Chris Heckert are tied for a team-high nine appearances, with Karalus accounting for one win and both of Santa Clara's saves, while Heckert has picked up a pair of wins out of the bullpen. Nick Medeiros has come out of bullpen eight times, and recorded four scoreless outings to start the season, while Jason Seever leads all four with a 3.24 ERA.

SCU starters combined to allow nine runs and seven earned runs over 26.0 innings in the four games Feb. 20-23 for a collective 2.42 ERA. In 26.0 innings and four games of opening weekend, Bronco starting pitching recorded a 2.76 ERA.

Scouting Penn State

Steve Snyder leads all Penn State hitters with a .412 (21-for-51) batting average, 24 total bases, a .471 slugging percentage, a .475 on-base percentage and a 4-for-4 mark in stolen base attempts. He is one of two players to start 14 games for Penn State alongside Taylor Skerpon, who has the second highest batting average among qualified batters at .292 (14-for-48). Thirteen game starters Greg Guers and J.J. White are the top RBI getters, with eight and seven, respectively, on the season.

James Coates has 13 walks in 13 games to lead Penn State, and as a team, the Nittany Lions have drawn 62 walks while allowing 44.

Greg Welsh makes his fourth start of the season Thursday, and has lost all three of his starts thus far in 2014. During his last outing March 7 at Saint Mary's, Welsh allowed four runs (two earned) on eight hits with one walk and two strikeouts. In 2013, he finished second on the Nittany Lion pitching staff with a 4.09 ERA in 55.0 innings.

T.J. Jann is one of two four-game starters for Penn State at this point in the season, and he leads the Nittany Lions with 22.1 innings pitched and 13 strikeouts, alongside the lowest ERA for their starting pitchers at 3.18. The right-hander threw a quality start in his last outing by allowing three runs (three earned) on seven hits with one walk and four strikeouts. Only eight of the 18 runs he have allowed the season were earned runs.

Patton Taylor also makes his fifth start of the season as Saturday's probable pitcher. In his last outing March 9 at Saint Mary's, Taylor threw 2.0 innings and allowed four runs (four earned) on four hits with two walks and no strikeouts. The Nittany Lions trailed 6-4 after the fourth and scored in four consecutive innings to come back and defeat the Gaels 9-6, which was their last victory.

Jack Anderson is the most-used pitcher for Penn State with six appearances out of the bullpen, including three wins in relief and a 1.38 ERA. He has given up three runs (two earned) in 13.0 innings with 12 strikeouts.

Close Contests

Five of Santa Clara's seven victories this season are one-run wins, including a pair of walkoff victories for its only two home wins of the season. In the 3-2 loss to UC Davis March 7, the Broncos and Aggies were within one run of eachother the entire way. In the 9-8 victory over Pacific March 8, there were four ties and three lead changes, with only one lead of more than three runs, when the Tigers were ahead 7-4 in the top of the sixth.

Welcome to the New Age

Several Santa Clara freshmen have seen a significant part of the action this season: Stevie Berman has made 17 appearances and 15 starts (17-15), Rory Graf-Brennen (14-7), Max Kuhns (15-13 in the field, three relief appearances), Seaver Whalen (9-6), Kyle Czaplak (16-11) and Tyler Meditz (12-1).

Four of five Bronco pitchers to make a start this season are underclassmen: sophomore Reece Karalus, sophomore Peter Hendron, sophomore Jacob Steffens and redshirt-freshman Steven Wilson. Thursday night's starter and senior D.J. Zapata is the lone upperclassman in the current rotation.

Santa Clara Bests Manhattan 10-2, O'Brien Earns 500th Career Win (Click Here for the full game story)

Bronco head coach Dan O'Brien won his 500th career game as the Broncos defeated Manhattan 10-2 on March 2. The third-year Santa Clara head coach won 454 games with his alma mater, UC San Diego, and has 46 wins in his time with the Broncos.

"There's been a ton of great memories and some big team wins in there, but I don't do this for the wins," O'Brien said after Sunday's game. "I coach for the countless lifelong relationships I've developed over the years. Those mean the world to me."

Peter Hendron Named College Sports Madness West Coast Player of the Week

Sophomore pitcher Peter Hendron was named the College Sports Madness West Coast Player of the Week for March 3, 2014. Hendron posted career high marks with 8.0 innings and seven strikeouts in a 10-2 win March 2 against Manhattan at the Sanderson Ford Baseball Classic in Surprise, Ariz. last weekend. He allowed two runs (one earned) on eight hits with two walks and held the Jaspers to 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position to earn the winning decision to improve to 2-1.

Greg Harisis Named Rawlings WCC Baseball Player of the Week

Greg Harisis won Irish Baseball Classic MVP honors with a stat line of 9-for-19, three RBIs, seven runs scored, two doubles, one home run and an outfield assist as the Broncos went 4-0 Feb. 20-23. He was named the WCC Rawlings Baseball Player of the Week, becoming the first Bronco to earn the honor since Patrick Terry on May 23, 2011.