SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The Santa Clara Broncos and Saint Mary's Gaels battled for six scoreless innings Friday night at Schott Stadium before combining for nine runs in the last three frames of a 6-3 Saint Mary's win. Santa Clara led 3-2 heading into the ninth, and the Gaels rallied for four runs to take the first of a three game set.
The Broncos must win their final two regular season games Saturday and Sunday to reach the West Coast Conference Baseball Championship.
In his final home start, D.J. Zapata threw 6.2 innings and allowed two earned runs on eight hits with one walk and seven strikeouts for the Broncos (24-28, 14-11 WCC). Zapata faced more than four batters just once through the first six frames; Saint Mary's sent five to the plate in a fifth inning that featured an error. His seven strikeouts were one shy of a career-high eight, set back on Feb. 20 vs. Notre Dame.
Ryan Brockett pitched 6.1 innings and allowed three earned runs on four hits with six walks and four strikeouts for the Gaels (16-37, 8-17 WCC). He held the Broncos hitless from the first out of the second through the end of the sixth. Sophomore David Dellaserra (W, 1-1) retired six of the seven batters he faced in the last two innings to earn his first victory of the season.
Senior center fielder Greg Harisis led off the first with a walk and made it to second base on sophomore shortstop Jose Vizcaino, Jr.'s sacrifice bunt before two straight outs ended the inning. Santa Clara threatened by putting runners on first and second with no outs in the second before a pair of pop ups retired the side, the first of which resulted in a double play.
With runners on second and third and one out in the fifth, junior center fielder DonAndre Clark reached on a throwing error by senior second baseman Zach Looney. Sophomore left fielder Michael Valentin, Jr. broke for home after watching the ball get away from junior first baseman T.J. Braff, who recovered in time to throw Valentin out at the plate and keep the game knotted at 0-0.
The Gaels opened the scoring in the seventh on a two-run double off the bat of Clark that landed just inside the left field line. The Broncos called on freshman relief pitcher Jason Seever, the Gaels countered with sophomore Connor Hornsby to pinch hit and Seever issued a groundout to end the inning.
In the bottom half of the seventh, senior designated hitter Quinton Perry led off with a walk and freshman third baseman Max Kuhns doubled down the right field line to put two runners in scoring position with no outs. Looney doubled both baserunners home to tie the game at 2-2. Three batters later, Vizcaino, Jr. hit an RBI single to score sophomore right fielder Kert Woods and put the Broncos ahead for the first time at 3-2.
Sophomore Reece Karalus (L, 5-2) entered the game with a one-run lead in the eighth and struck out the first two batters he faced in a 1-2-3 inning. In the ninth, the Gaels rallied for four runs to take the biggest lead of the game at 6-3. Saint Mary's put its first two batters aboard and tied the game at three when junior second baseman Darian Ramage scored from second on a throwing error by Karalus. Hornsby hit a two-run single to right to put the Gaels back in front and junior first baseman Collin Ferguson doubled to left center to make it 6-3.
The Broncos got a two-out single from Harisis in the ninth, and could not bring across a run against Dellaserra. They spread six hits among six batters and Looney led the way with two RBIs on the night, while Harisis walked twice to reach safely a team-high three times.
Santa Clara and Saint Mary's meet tomorrow for game two of the series with a 1 p.m. first pitch. Peter Hendron (6-4, 3.83 ERA) is scheduled to take the hill for the Broncos against Cameron Neff (5-8, 4.18 ERA).
Game Notes: First pitch was at 6:03 p.m. … time of game was 2:50 … attendance was 608.