March 28, 2014

Baseball Gets First WCC Win, 6-2 at Pacific

STOCKTON, Calif. — Santa Clara baseball picked up its first West Coast Conference win of the 2014 season with a 6-2 victory over University of the Pacific at Klein Family Field Friday night. The Broncos got seven strong innings from senior starting pitcher D.J. Zapata, struck for multiple runs in the sixth and ninth and committed no errors for a team victory. 

"This is the kind of complete team effort we've been waiting for out of these guys," head coach Dan O'Brien said. "They put together a complete game on the mound, on defense, on the bases and at the plate. When we do that, we're a very solid ballclub."

Zapata (W, 2-4) allowed two earned runs on 10 hits with no walks and two strikeouts to earn his second victory of the season for the Broncos (10-16, 1-3 WCC). He needed only seven pitches in a 1-2-3 first, and went on to face the minimum three more times in his 7.0+ innings of work. He recorded three straight outs in the sixth after allowing one run on three hits to the first three batters of the inning.

"D.J. was consistent and stayed composed all night," O'Brien said. "Even when he started to rush and get away from his game, he found a way to compose himself and pitch out of his own jam. That's what great pitchers do."

Sophomore Reece Karalus (SV, 4) entered a 4-2 game with one out and a runner on second in the eighth, and went on to record four strikeouts in 1.2 scoreless innings for his fourth save of the season. Mike Hager (L, 2-3) threw 6.0 innings and allowed four earned runs on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts.

The Tigers (11-16, 3-4 WCC) had runners on the corners with one out in the second, and attempted a double steal. Senior first baseman Erik Lockwood broke for second, fell on the basepath and was tagged out by sophomore shortstop Jose Vizcaino, Jr. for one out. Sophomore catcher J.P. Yakel made his way to home plate during Yakel's rundown, and Vizcaino threw back to freshman catcher Stevie Berman in time to complete the double play.

Senior center fielder Greg Harisis returned to the lineup after a five-game absence and put Santa Clara on the board with an RBI double to left in the third inning. He also added an RBI triple in the ninth to finish 2-for-5 on the night.

"Harry is our offensive leader and a difference maker," O'Brien said. "We're a different ballclub with him in there. I'm so proud of him for handling this adversity so well, and certainly not surprised he stepped up tonight."

Pacific sophomore left fielder Gio Brusa answered in the home half of the inning with a two-out, RBI single through the right side to tie the game at 1-1. 

Senior left fielder Casey Munoz gave the Broncos their second lead at 2-1 with an RBI sacrifice fly in the sixth. Later in the inning, Mac Hess extended the advantage to 4-1 on the strength of a two-out, two-RBI double. Pacific responded in their half of the inning on an RBI single from Yakel to make the score 4-2.

In the ninth, the Broncos added their fifth run on one of Kyle Czaplak's game-best three hits, and increased the lead to 6-2 on the RBI triple by Harisis. Hess and Harisis led the Broncos with two RBIs each, and four of the team's eight hits went for extra bases.

"People forget that Kyle hasn't had live at bats in over a year and a half due to several surgeries," O'Brien said. "It's exciting to see him settle in at the dish. This is just the beginning of a special Bronco career for that kid."

Karalus allowed a leadoff single in the home half of the ninth and recorded three consecutive outs to secure the team's first victory since March 15.

The Broncos and Tigers meet for the second of a three-game set tomorrow at 2 p.m. from Klein Family Field. Peter Hendron (2-2, 3.47 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Broncos against Jake Jenkins (1-2, 4.15 ERA).

GAME NOTES: First pitch was at 6:06 p.m. … time of game was 3:06 … attendance was 402 … Zapata faced one batter in the seventh.