SANTA CLARA, Calif. – In the rubber game of a three-game West Coast Conference set, Santa Clara baseball topped LMU by a final of 8-7 behind a three-run eighth inning. Santa Clara's one through four hitters combined for 10 of the team's 11 hits and five of the team's seven RBI in the victory.
The Broncos are now 19-24 overall and 10-8 in WCC action while the Lions are now 25-19 overall and 13-8 in conference play. Santa Clara returns to the field Tues., April 29 at 6 p.m. at San Jose State.
Jacob Steffens (0-4, 4.46) started for Santa Clara and picked up a no-decision in 5.1 innings. Steffens allowed five runs on eight hits with three strikeouts. Reece Karalus (W, 5-1) got the win in 3.0 innings out of the bullpen. Greg Harisis was 3-5 with two doubles, three runs scored, and an RBI to lead the offense. Stevie Berman was 2-4 with a double, two RBI and a run scored while Jose Vizcaino, Jr. was 2-4 with two runs scored and the game-winning RBI.
"They were challenging us with fastballs away," Vizcaino, Jr. said. "We really had to stick with our approach and hit balls into the gaps."
J.D. Busfield (0-0, 2.05) started for LMU and picked up a no-decision in 5.0 innings. Busfield allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits with four strikeouts. Brett Dahlson (L, 0-1) got the loss in 0.2 innings out of the bullpen. Tanner Donnels was 3-5 with three RBI and a run scored to lead the offense. David Fletcher was 3-4 with a run scored while David Edwards was 2-2 with a walk and two runs scored.
Austin Miller led off the game with a single to left and Fletcher followed with a single of his own. Tommy Cheek laid down a sacrifice bunt and Donnels singled up the middle to bring in two runs.
Santa Clara answered right back in the bottom of the first with a three-spot. Harisis doubled to left center to lead off the inning and Vizcaino was hit by a pitch. Berman doubled in both runs and came in to score when Casey Munoz reached on an error.
Harisis led off the bottom of the third with a single through the left side and after a strikeout, Berman singled to left. Munoz loaded the bases with an infield single to the shortstop and T.J. Braff hit a sac fly to right to make the score 4-2 Broncos.
Donnels and Cole Trezek hit back-to-back singles with one out in the top of the sixth. Edwards scorched a single to right that loaded the bases and ended the day for Steffens. Jason Seever entered and got pinch-hitter Tyler Cohen to strike out swinging. A fly ball to left looked like it was going to end the inning, but Munoz never saw it because of the sun and it fell in for a bases-clearing double that put the Lions on top 5-4.
"This team is all about picking each other up and you could tell that everyone in our dugout immediately worked to pick up Casey today after that play," head coach Dan O'Brien said. "He did it too and had a huge RBI knock late. Special things are happening with this ballclub, I'm so proud of their make up and resilience as a group."
Miller stroked a single to right center off of new Santa Clara pitcher Karalus to lead off the top of the seventh. A sacrifice bunt moved the runner into scoring position and after a strikeout, Donnels hit an RBI single to center to make it a two-run LMU lead.
After two quick outs in the bottom of the seventh, Vizcaino singled to right and Berman followed with a walk to put the tying runs on base. Munoz came through with an RBI single to left to cut the deficit to one run at 6-5. Carlos Fuentes came in and got the third out on one pitch.
"The guys continue to grind out at-bats, regardless of the outcomes, they just keep competing at-bat after at-bat," O'Brien said. "That pays off over the corse of the game."
The eighth started with a walk to Edwards and a sac bunt to move him up. Kevin Garcia scalded a single up the middle to put the Lions back on top by two.
Perry hit a high fly to right that was dropped for a two-base error to start the home half of the eighth. Zach Looney walked on four pitches and a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position. Kyle Cortopassi got the Broncos a run closer with an RBI sacrifice fly to left. Another wild pitch put the tying run just 90 feet away with only one out. With the count 2-1 on Kert Woods, Dahlson came in to pitch and got a short fly to right that wasn't deep enough to score the run. Harisis came up big with an RBI double to right that tied the game at 7-7. Vizcaino put the Broncos on top 8-7 with a solid RBI single to left field.
"I knew he was going away and throwing fastballs," Vizcaino Jr. said. "I took a big hack before that and tired to settle down. I looked at the coaches and they told me to breathe a little bit. On two strikes, all we talk about all year is shortening up and putting the ball in play hard on a line. That last pitch I got up and away, I kind of pulled it a little bit so I was pretty happy it got over the shortstop's head."
Fletcher singled to right center with one down in the top of the ninth. Karalus bounced back to get the next two outs and seal the win.
"Reece did a great job of staying composed and ready for that final inning," O'Brien said. "He's been clutch for us all year, today was our day to pick him up. I'm not surprised, these guys play hard for one another."
Game Notes: Attendance was 336 … first pitch was at 1:07 … game time was 3:18 … a foul ball in the bottom of the eighth made it into the press box.