SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara baseball will play the final four games of its season-opening homestand this weekend against Northwestern. The Broncos and Wildcats are set to play four games beginning Friday at Stephen Schott Stadium.
"We're excited to get back to playing solid baseball again this weekend," head coach Dan O'Brien said. "We haven't played well as of late, but it's important to keep things into perspective and not overreact. We just need to simply get back to playing the game the way it should be played. It's really that simple."
Saturday Game 1
Saturday Game 2
Games #8-11 | Home Games #8-11
Santa Clara, Calif. | Stephen Schott Stadium
All-Time Series: SCU leads 6-0 in the all-time series. This is the first matchup between the two schools since 1983.
Probable Starters (2017 Stats)
Friday, March 3 • 6 p.m. PT
SCU RHP Jacob Steffens (0-1, 0.63 ERA) vs. NU RHP Joe Schindler (0-2, 6.00 ERA)
Saturday, March 4 • 1 p.m. PT – Game 1 Doubleheader
SCU RHP Eric Lex (1-1, 3.00 ERA) vs. NU RHP Hank Christie (0-1, 3.86 ERA)
Saturday, March 4 • 4:30 p.m. PT (or 30 minutes after game 1) – Game 2 Doubleheader
SCU RHP Grant Nechak (0-2, 7.56 ERA) vs. NU LHP Matt Gannon (0-0, 1.50 ERA)
Sunday, March 5 • 12 p.m. PT
SCU RHP Michael Bono (0-0, 4.50 ERA) vs. NU RHP Tommy Bordignon (0-1, 27.00 ERA)
Santa Clara (1-6) has 15 newcomers on the 2017 squad and many of them will play significant roles this season. "We really focused on getting humble, hard working, grinders," head coach Dan O'Brien said on Feb. 14 at Bay Area Baseball Media Day.
Catcher Jake MacNichols, a freshman from Napa, California, went deep in his first collegiate at-bat on Feb. 18. He has started in six of the first seven games and hit his second home run against Michigan on Feb. 26. MacNichols has a .409 slugging percentage along with 65 putouts and five assists for a .986 fielding percentage.
Brandon Buckley, a freshman out of Kentfield, California, has been a bright spot for SCU out of the bullpen. He has made three appearances and pitched 8.1 innings, allowing just one earned run (two runs total) and four hits while striking out 13 batters. His 14.04 strikeouts per nine innings is the second-best mark in the league and No. 42 in the nation.
"Brandon has shown very good stuff on the mound in this young season, but more than that he has shown that he is a competitor," associate head coach Gabe Ribas said. "He has invested in doing all the dirty work mentally and physically, and has made huge strides throughout his time with us this year. I have been very impressed with his work ethic, toughness, and attention to detail in every aspect of what he does-- day in and day out. His time spent as a college pitcher is pretty limited, but he has shown a great picture about what he could be moving forward."
Broncos in the Field
2016 West Coast Conference Honorable Mention honoree Tyler Meditz, a senior outfielder, has started every game for the Broncos this season. The Honolulu, Hawaii native is hitting .310 to start the year. He hit his first home run of the season against Michigan on Feb. 26 and boasts a slugging percentage of .448. He has 16 putouts as the starting left fielder and a perfect fielding percentage.
Sophomore infielder John Cresto, a 2016 WCC All-Freshman Team member, has been hot at the plate this season. He is hitting .440 (11-25) which is the third-best average in the league. He hits 0.57 doubles per game (four total), which is tied for the best in the conference. Cresto has also hit two home runs on the season and is ranked 18th in the nation in slugging percentage at .920 He is first on the team with five runs batted in as well.
Junior Jake Brodt has made 96 starts in his career, playing primarily at first base. He boasts a .333 batting average after starting all seven games on the year. He has recorded nine hits in 27 at-bats and walked twice as well. He is tied for the team lead with Cresto in runs scored (4) and doubles (4). Brodt has been strong in the field for the Broncos, posting 47 putouts with seven assists and a 1.000 fielding percentage.
Junior designated hitter Niko Holm recovered from a slow start at the plate to have the best on-base percentage on the squad at .536. He has been walked eight times and hit by a pitch twice on the season. He is up a .278 batting average with five hits, including two doubles and an RBI on the year.
"Niko (Holm) is doing a much better job of managing the adversity of the game and hitting the 'reset' button when needed," assistant coach Keith Beauregard said. "Players who evaluate and learn to make adjustments when the game asks them to are able to find success. He does that well."
Santa Clara recorded 14 triples last year, the third-best mark in the West Coast Conference. SCU was also fourth in the league in stolen bases with 49. Cresto has already recorded a triple for SCU while and junior Grant Meylan and Meditz have both successfully stolen a base in the young 2017 season.
Broncos on the Mound
Two weeks into the season and Santa Clara is second in the league and is No. 32 in the nation in strikeouts per nine innings at 10.0.
Redshirt senior RHP Jacob Steffens, now two years removed from his season-ending Tommy John surgery in 2015, has stepped into the starting rotation after being a relief pitcher in 2016 and been excellent on the mound for the Broncos. Steffens has thrown 14.1 innings, allowing just one earned run (2 runs total) while striking out 16 batters. His 16 Ks is a top-60 mark in the nation and his 0.63 ERA is No. 3 in the conference.
Junior RHP Eric Lex spent the 2016 season recovering from Tommy John surgery and has looked good on the mound after two starts this season. He is 1-1 on the year with a 3.0 ERA in 9.0 innings pitched. His 16.0 strikeouts per nine innings is tops in the WCC and the 11th-best mark in the country.
The Northwestern Wildcats enter the series with a 0-6 record on the year and have yet to play a game at home. They were swept at Arizona State to open the season and then played three games at the Mule Mix Classic last weekend. Alex Erro leads the team in batting average at .368 with seven hits on 19 at-bats, including a double and a home run. The Wildcats are active on the base paths, stealing eight bases on nine tries.
Hot Chocolate Hitter - If Santa Clara's leadoff batter reaches base in any inning, hot chocolate is $1 at Bronco Concessions for the rest of the half inning
Baseball Bingo: Pick up a baseball bingo card at the marketing table and follow along while the Broncos are at-bat for your chance to win a prize.
Peanuts: If Santa Clara's leadoff batter reaches base in any inning, peanuts are $1 at Bronco Concessions for the rest of the half inning
Parking: Parking is now available in the Guadalupe lot, adjacent to 455 El Camino Real. The Guadalupe lot is reserved beginning 60 minutes before game time through the end of the event for free parking. Baseball parking is no longer allowed in the lot behind Schott Stadium's left field wall. Overflow parking is available in the Leavey Center lot. Spectators that plan to arrive more than an hour prior to game time on weekdays are encouraged to purchase a parking permit for the Leavey lot. All SCU lot parking is free on weekends. ADA parking is available in the lot directly in front of the main gates; there is no general public parking in this lot. Follow signs for parking instructions.
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